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Virginia school denies recognition to pro-life student club, ADF files suit

School rejects Christian student’s request for pro-life club, but OKs Young Democrats, Students Against Destructive Decisions, and Key Club
Published On: 10/18/2017

ALEXANDRIA, Va. — Attorneys with the Alliance Defense Fund filed a lawsuit Wednesday after a Virginia school denied official recognition to a student pro-life club but granted official recognition to student groups that focus on other issues.

“Christian and pro-life students cannot be treated as second-class citizens on campus.  The student we represent wanted to start a pro-life club at her school, just as other students have been allowed to start their own clubs, yet school officials denied her and not the others,” said ADF Senior Legal Counsel David Cortman.  “Under the law, school officials cannot discriminate on the basis of an arbitrary decision about the worthiness of the club’s subject matter.”

The student, who attends Colonial Forge High School, wanted to start a pro-life student club on campus and applied for her club to become officially recognized by the school.  Officially recognized student clubs enjoy privileges such as access to the school newspaper, bulletin boards, and the public announcement system, as well as being able to participate in student activities programs and club fairs.

Stafford County School officials denied the student’s application, stating that her pro-life club “does not meet the standard of a direct curricular link.”  But no policy exists that requires clubs to be curriculum-related, nor are there any guidelines that govern how such a determination is made.

The Stafford County School granted official recognition to other student groups that do not appear to have a “direct curricular link” on campuses within its district, including Young Democrats, Students Against Destructive Decisions, and Key Club.

“Because of the lack of a clear policy outlining how student clubs are granted official recognition, certain school and district officials have been given unaccountable discretion to determine which clubs are approved and which are not,” Cortman explained.  “Their denial of this pro-life student club is inconsistent and unconstitutional.”


ADF is a legal alliance of Christian attorneys and like-minded organizations defending the right of people to freely live out their faith. Launched in 1994, ADF employs a unique combination of strategy, training, funding, and litigation to protect and preserve religious liberty, the sanctity of life, marriage, and the family.

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