A federal lawsuit has led to official recognition for a student-led Christian club that had earlier been banned by the Hicksville Union Free School District in Central Islip, N.Y.
Attorneys of the Christian law firm Alliance Defense Fund on Friday started the process of voluntary dismissal of the federal lawsuit against the district after its “decision to change course and grant the club equal access to the rights, benefits, and privileges extended to all other non-curriculum student clubs.”
Apart from officially recognizing the Frontline Club, the district also adopted a resolution affirming its “continuing policy to comply with the Equal Access Act,” a federal law that prohibits government schools from discriminating against religious student clubs that wish to meet on campus during non-instructional time, ADF – which has nearly 2,100 attorney in its alliance – said in a statement Friday.
Before the lawsuit was filed in May, Principal Brijinder Singh had stated that other schools may have a Christian club “but I don’t want this in my school.” While more than 35 other clubs, including a ping pong club, were officially recognized, the principal had denied permission to the Frontline Club.
Singh said her decision was based solely on costs. According to Singh, if she recognized the club, then she would also have to recognize clubs for every religion. The cost of providing an adviser for the religious clubs, she stated, would be “prohibitive at this economically stringent time.”
This was ADF’s third lawsuit against Long Island school districts resulting in official recognition for Christian student clubs. The Lindenhurst Union Free School District and the Half Hollow Hills Central School District had earlier recognized similar clubs.
“Christian student groups shouldn’t be discriminated against simply because they are religious, and the school district in this case has affirmed that principle,” said ADF Litigation Counsel Matt Sharp. “Any school districts acting inconsistently with federal law and the Constitution in this regard should follow the lead of Hicksville Union Free School District and the other districts on Long Island that eventually took action to respect the constitutionally protected right of their students to express their beliefs and meet as other student groups do.”
A recognized club can have access to facilities before and after instructional time, make announcements, post fliers and ads for club activities, conduct field trips during the school day, raise funds, and participate in Homecoming Week activities, among other activities.
The Frontline Club was founded by Pastor Emeritus John Vaughn of Faith Baptist Church in Taylors, S.C. The goal of the club is to disciple its members in the teachings of Jesus Christ, according to the website. The club members participate in Bible study, worship, prayer, fellowship and community service activities. They also discuss, from a biblical perspective, various issues facing students, including peer pressure, drug and alcohol abuse and abstinence.