Settlement: Mo. Students Can Post Pro-Life Displays in School

A Missouri school that once took down pro-life posters while allowing for other controversial displays like that of zombies and gay-straight alliance events has agreed to let the pro-life displays be posted by students.

Students from Dixon High School of the Dixon R-1 School District won the suit in a settlement with the school system. The students were represented by the Alliance Defense Fund.

"Public schools should encourage, not shut down, the free exchange of ideas," said ADF Legal Counsel Jeremy Tedesco in a statement. "The school district should be commended for agreeing to respect the rights of its students under the First Amendment. Public schools are more likely to succeed when the freedom of ideas is allowed."

Matt Sharp, ADF litigation staff counsel, told The Christian Post that Dixon had already begun to look for a simpler solution not long after the suit was filed.

"Shortly after we filed the lawsuit, the school district's attorney contacted us to discuss a settlement of the case," said Sharp.

The suit and the settlement came because of an incident back in October when a pro-life student organization had set up posters advertising for a "Pro-Life Day of Silent Solidarity."

Founded by Brian Kemper, "Pro-Life Day of Silent Solidarity" is an annual nationwide event in which students wear red duct tape with the word "LIFE" written in black.

According to the event's website, students from around 170 schools were registered for the event, which was supported by several groups including Students for Life of America.

School officials at the Missouri high school found the posters "offensive" and took them down. This was done even though in the past school officials had allowed posters by other ideological student groups like the gay-straight alliance. Furthermore, earlier on some students had put up posters with blood-drenched zombies on them and did so with impunity. The ADF filed suit on behalf of the students in February.

"Other students and even non-school individuals and groups were permitted to display flyers and posters throughout the school even though their flyers were not related to the curriculum or a school function," said Sharp.

"As a result, our client's religious, pro-life speech was discriminated against while other speech was permitted. The First Amendment prohibits such discrimination."

Dawna Burrow, superintendent of the Dixon R-1 School District, told CP that she and the district were "pleased" at the result of the settlement.

"The Dixon R-I School District is pleased that the District has resolved the lawsuit challenging the district's policy and practice regarding distribution of unofficial materials by students. The lawsuit against the district has been dismissed in its entirety," said Burrow.

"The district has revised its Policy and Regulation 2170 concerning the distribution of unofficial materials by students, making the procedures and guidelines for submission and approval of unofficial materials by students clearer."