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Students Sue To Distribute Anti-Gay Tracts

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Students Sue To Distribute Anti-Gay Tracts

by Maryclaire Dale Associated Press

April 20, 2006 - 8:00 pm ET

(Philadelphia, Pennsylvania) A national Christian law group sued a suburban school district on free-speech grounds, saying the district censors prayer club members and threatens discipline if students speak out against homosexuality.

The federal lawsuit against the Downingtown Area School District mirrors others filed by the Alliance Defense Fund that accuse schools of implementing "Orwellian speech code(s)."

The Arizona-based group also sued the Georgia Institute of Technology this week over anti-gay speech, and has previously tried to block gay marriage laws, anti-discrimination policies and workplace diversity training.

In the latest suit, the alliance said Downingtown schools improperly forced a student group to drop explicitly Christian or Scriptural references from its literature, and to meet as the "Prayer Club" instead of the preferred "Bible Club."

Students also want the right to air anti-gay and other viewpoints free from punishment outlined in the school's speech code.

"(The school district) favors the viewpoints of some clubs - e.g. the Gay Straight Alliance - while banning only the viewpoints expressed by the Prayer Club," states the suit, filed Wednesday on behalf of students Stephanie and Steven Styer and others.

A school district spokeswoman did not immediately return a phone message Thursday.

In February, the Alliance Defense Fund sued Penn State and Temple universities saying their speech codes infringed on the right of conservative students to air their political views.

John Davidson, legal director of Lambda Legal, a national gay-rights group, said courts have drawn the line at speech that incites a disturbance.

"There's this very perverse attempt to paint people who are trying to impose their religious views on other people as somehow the victims, because they don't get to go up to other people and tell them they hate them," Davidson said.

"Since when do you have a right to be mean to other people, particularly when you're dealing with children?" he said. "I just don't get that they think this is something that resources should be put into."

An Alliance Defense Fund spokesman did not immediately return a phone message Thursday.

©365Gay.com 2006

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