Fargo students stymied in attempt to form anti-abortion clubs

There will be no authorized anti-abortion clubs in the Fargo school district.

Two students — Brigid O’Keefe of Fargo North High School and Katie McPherson of Davies High School — tried to start the clubs, but they were stopped by administrators.

This week, the Thomas More Society said that’s unconstitutional.

At Fargo North, sophomore Brigid O’Keefe found an advisor and submitted her application to start a pro-life club in February 2015. School administrators put Brigid and other prospective club members through extensive questioning, including questions about their religious affiliations, before denying the club. After the students asked for reconsideration, the administrators turned the matter over to the District.

At that point, the District consolidated the two applications and made a decision binding on both schools.

The District decided to classify the pro-life clubs as “outside agencies” rather than approving them as official school clubs, meaning that the pro-life clubs cannot use the school name in their clubs’ names, cannot host events, and cannot put up posters at school to advertise or spread their message.

The District based its “outside agencies” classification on a District Solicitation Policy intended to regulate advertising by private businesses. “This is a clear misapplication of a policy that was never intended to limit students’ speech on significant human rights issues facing their generation,” added Attorney Jocelyn Floyd.

In a letter to administrators, the group said debate teams, a chess club, Fellowship of Christian Athletes, and gay/straight alliances are allowed at the school, even though they are “non curricular.”

This afternoon, the school district said it’ll review the decision.

Fargo Public Schools received a letter today, Wednesday, April 8, 2015 from Jocelyn Floyd, Associate Counsel, of the Thomas More Society, a national public interest law firm. This letter was received by Dr. Jeffrey Schatz, Superintendent of Fargo Public Schools, via email.

The District takes the assertions made in the letter seriously. The letter has been submitted to the District’s attorney for review. Once the District’s attorney has fully reviewed the matter, the District will be in the position to respond to the assertions in the letter.

(h/t: Ann Arbor Miller)