Zombie posters live, pro-life posters die at Mo. school
SPRINGFIELD, Mo. — Alliance Defense Fund attorneys filed suit against the Dixon R-1 School District Tuesday on behalf of a student who had her pro-life posters torn down by school officials.
Officials at Dixon High School removed the posters and denied public address announcements promoting the Pro-Life Day of Silent Solidarity even though it routinely allows other non-curricular communications, including photographs of students edited to look like bloody zombies; posters and announcements promoting the Gay, Lesbian, & Straight Education Network’s Day of Silence; and posters with political and anti-drug messages.
“All students should have the freedom to express their beliefs,” said ADF Legal Counsel Jeremy Tedesco. “Pro-life students have a positive and valuable message that school officials should welcome, not censor. Public schools are more likely to succeed when they allow for the free exchange of ideas.”
The Dixon School District allows students, student groups, and community organizations to post fliers, drawings, and other materials “in areas of the school which are generally frequented by students” and also permits announcements over the school intercom at designated times regarding activities and opportunities of interest to students.
The district has allowed numerous communications under a policy that states that “student expression regarding a variety of topics may be beneficial to the District’s educational mission,” including “discussion and debate regarding serious issues”; however, it prohibited posters and announcements for the Pro-Life Day of Silent Solidarity while allowing others.
The school allowed the student’s Pro-Life Day of Silent Solidarity posters and announcements in the past, but in October of last year tore down and destroyed the posters because it deemed them “offensive.”
“What is offensive is the double-standard here,” said ADF Litigation Counsel Matt Sharp. “Public school officials cannot pick and choose what messages they are going to allow based on which viewpoints they prefer. ADF has litigated numerous cases similar to this one, and the law and the Constitution are clearly on our side here as well.”
Douglas Fredrick, one of nearly 2,100 attorneys in the ADF alliance, is serving as local counsel in the case, J.A. v. Dixon R-1 School District, filed with the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Missouri, Southern Division.
- Pronunciation guide: Tedesco (Tuh-DESS’-ko)
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.