ANN ARBOR, MI – A federal lawsuit filed against Ann Arbor Public Schools alleges Skyline High School showed “blatant viewpoint discrimination” against a student and Republican club when they were allegedly denied a school-wide announcement opposing Proposition 3.
The lawsuit was filed by the conservative Thomas More Law Center on Tuesday, Nov. 1, in the Eastern Division of the U.S. District Court in Detroit by a parent of a Skyline senior and on behalf of the Skyline Republican Club, alleging that the student and the club was denied the same treatment that the school has given other student groups unrelated to the curriculum.
The lawsuit alleges that Skyline allows student groups to make announcements at all schools expressing political views “with which they agree,” alleging that the school has approved political announcements from the National Organization for Women’s student club expressing support for Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood recruiting students “to work on their LGBTQ+ initiatives” at the school.
When the Skyline Republican Club tried to use the same forum to recruit students interested in opposing Proposition 3, however, the school denied the request, claiming the notice could not be shared because it is political, the lawsuit states.
Proposition 3 would amend the Michigan Constitution to guarantee “a fundamental right to reproductive freedom” that includes abortion care, contraception, infertility care and more.
On October 21, the Skyline student submitted this announcement to be read over the public address system:
“Are you interested in joining our efforts to protect the health of women and children by joining us in our fight to defeat Proposition 3? If Proposition 3 passes, it would eliminate health and safety regulations, legalize late-term and partial-birth abortions, no longer require doctors to perform abortions, and eliminate informed consent laws.”
The student and the Republican Club were informed in an email that their announcement would not be read due to its “political nature,” noting that the school was not allowed to advertise political activities, according to Ann Arbor School Board policy.
After being told the ad wouldn’t be allowed to be shared because it was “political,” the suit claims director Cory McElmeel claimed in an Oct. 28 email that “on the advice of legal counsel,” he had to say the ad wasn’t allowed “for because of the campaign finance law”.
The lawsuit alleges that the school’s refusal to allow students to read a statement opposing the proposal is a violation of their rights under the Equal Access Act, which gives all student groups unrelated to the curriculum equal rights. access if a public school creates a restricted forum. be used by at least one group of students unrelated to the curriculum.
“The defendants have discriminated (the students) based on their political intent, point of view and based on the content of their speech by not allowing them, to the same extent allowed by other student groups that are not related to the curriculum, to use public address system. “, the lawsuit states.
Although a state court ruled that Michigan’s 1931 law banning abortion is unconstitutional, the legislature could enact a new ban. Voting Proposition 3 into the constitution, however, would replace a future ban.
Anti-abortion groups argue that Proposition 3 is too broad for the constitution, as rights to abortion, sterilization and other procedures are not given an age limit. The amendment would also repeal or modify dozens of existing laws and regulations, opponents have said.
The lawsuit, filed on behalf of the students, seeks a declaration that AAPS violated the students’ rights under the First and Fourteenth Amendments and the Equal Access Act, an order that allows them to share their announcement over the public address system of the school, a “Nominal Damages” decision and attorney’s fees.
The lawsuit alleges that AAPS and its officials have a duty to adequately supervise, control, or train employees in the Equal Access Act and the First and Fourteenth Amendments, and failed to adequately train and supervise its employees in those area, including McElmeel and secretary Jefferson Bilsborrow. who are mentioned in the lawsuit.
“Ann Arbor Public Schools was aware of the policy and their decision to discriminate against (students) based on their political intent, viewpoint and content of their speech and ratified, approved and approved the decision,” the lawsuit states.
Ann Arbor Public Schools declined to comment on the lawsuit, with spokesman Andrew Cluley saying the district does not comment on pending litigation.
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