Seattle, WA, April 29, 2008 … The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) today welcomed a federal appellate court's decision that a publicly funded student club, "Truth," could not discriminate against students who refused to sign a Christian statement of faith.
In Truth v. Kent School District, the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals held that the Washington State school district's requirement that Truth adhere to the district's non-discrimination policy did not violate Truth's First Amendment or federal Equal Access Act rights.
Ellen Bovarnick, ADL Pacific Northwest Regional Director, issued the following statement:
We welcome the 9th Circuit's decision in the Kent School District case which makes it clear that all students, regardless of religion, must be afforded the same equal educational opportunities. Both the law and sound educational policy demand inclusive school environments.
We respect the right of religious students to meet and pray with each other. However, any student club that has a discriminatory membership policy has no business taking the public's money or asking for the advantages that accompany official school recognition.
ADL filed a "friend of the court" brief in the case, arguing that the club's policy violated the U.S. Constitution's Equal Protection Clause. The brief also addressed the serious problem of peer discrimination among students within our nation's schools, and highlighted the critical importance of anti-discrimination policies in fostering inclusive school environments which result in student well-being and academic achievement.