School accused of discriminating against Christian students

July 17, 2023
World Net Daily

This story was originally published by the WND News Center.

A federal complaint has been filed in district court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania charging that a school district is violating the constitutional rights of some parochial school students by banning them from participation in extracurricular activities.

Simply because they attend religious schools.

The Thomas More Society reports it has filed the complaint on behalf of the Religious Rights Foundation of Pennsylvania and the parents of two Centre County parochial school students.

The defendant is the State College Area School District.

The district is accused of violating the Free Exercise Clause of the First Amendment and the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment because officials in the district denied permission for parochial students to participate in public school activities.

Lawyer Thomas Breth noted that the district has a policy that lets charter school and homeschool students take part in various programs.

"Yet, the school district justifies its exclusion of parochial school students from the same programs and activities by claiming their inclusion would take away opportunities from students attending district schools," the report said.

"The board has consistently allowed homeschool students and those attending charter schools to take part in the district’s more than 100 extracurricular activities and classes, including athletic teams and Advanced Placement courses," the lawyer explained.

"The school district has denied those same opportunities to students attending religious schools, based solely on their religious identity. That forces parochial school students to choose between their religious beliefs and the right to participate in extracurricular activities and advanced classes."

He said the practice appears to violate existing Supreme Court precedents.

"The Supreme Court has made it clear that such denials can be justified only by a state interest of the highest order. That is certainly not the case in the State College Area School District."

The complaint seeks a court order finding the district "in violation of plaintiffs' rights" as well as orders that the parochial students be allowed to participate like other students.

The filing notes that the school's website claims it does not discriminate based on "race, color, age, creed, religion, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, ancestry, national origin or disability."

"Parent plaintiffs and student plaintiffs have suffered, and continue to suffer, an injury in fact, as a direct result of defendants' discriminatory conduct as set forth herein," the complaint charges.

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