Officials at West Shore School District in Pennsylvania have agreed to lift a ban that prevented at least one middle school student from wearing an "Abortion is not Healthcare" T-shirt.
In response to the policy revisions, Alliance Defense Fund attorneys on Wednesday filed a notice of voluntary dismissal of the lawsuit they had pursued on behalf of the student.
"Public schools should not censor pro-life students for their views," said ADF Senior Legal Counsel David Cortman, in a statement. "School district officials have done the right thing in recognizing this young man’s First Amendment right to express his beliefs. We commend the revision of their unconstitutional policies so that students can engage in free speech protected by the First Amendment."
Last September, a student at Crossroads Middle School in Lewisberry, Pa., wore a white shirt that was scribbled with the phrase "Abortion is not Healthcare." He was sent to the principal's office by his fifth period teacher and was told his shirt "might insult somebody." The student had to turn his shirt inside out.
A lawsuit was subsequently filed against the district.
The student, identified as E.B., is a Christian and desires to share his religious and political views with his classmates, according to the suit. He believes in the sanctity of human life and that unborn children should be protected.
He wore his abortion shirt on the day that President Obama addressed students in schools across the country via a video message. At that time the healthcare debate was in full force and the Boyers, E.B's parents, were opposed to the president's proposed healthcare overhaul, especially any federal funding of abortion.
"[T]he Boyers, like many others, felt that President Obama was bypassing them and speaking directly to their children without their permission," the suit states.
The Boyers struggled with whether to send their children to school that day. E.B. attended and decided to express his religious viewpoint on the issue of abortion.
ADF attorneys say the t-shirt did not cause any disruption at school.
E.B. "is a Bible-believing Christian who desires to share his faith and beliefs with other students and to discuss how the Bible addresses issues, such as abortion," states the lawsuit.
"Non-disruptive, private student expression is protected by the First Amendment."
Attorneys sought to have the school district's policies on student expression and dress revised. They secured a favorable settlement with the district, which agreed to eliminate the challenged provisions, including the prohibition of expressions that "seek to establish the supremacy of a particular religious denomination, sect, or point of view" and the statement "clothing which creates a hostile educational environment or evidences discriminatory bias or animus is prohibited."