A South Dakota anti-abortion group filed suit against the Rapid City school district on Monday in response to the school's repeated refusal to allow the group to use a middles school auditorium. The Rapid City Journal reports that the anti-abortion group Citizens for Life, led by Allen Carlson, is claiming viewpoint discrimination and violation of free speech.
School policy states that all nonprofit groups can use school buildings for educational or charitable events as long as the events don't conflict with established policies or laws, according to the Daily Women's Health Policy Report. However, school policy also prohibits the use of school buildings for political purposes.
Carlson claims that he requested to use the middle school auditorium on several occasions throughout the past three years, but each time his requests were denied. According to the Associated Press, the school denied Carlson's request due to the controversial nature of his anti-abortion group. Carlson requested use of the school building in 2006 to host an event in favor of the controversial abortion ban initiative that was defeated later that year. This year, Carlson requested access to the auditorium to host an anti-abortion event in favor of a abortion ban referendum featuring speaker Joe Scheidler, director of the Pro-Life Action League.
The lawyer for the school district told The Rapid City Journal that the policy is solid and "meets the requirements under the law." The school district plans to file a response to the law suit.
Media Resources: Daily Women's Health Policy Report 02/07/08; Associated Press 02/05/08; The Rapid City Journal 02/06/08; Feminist Daily News Wire 06/20/06; Feminist Daily News Wire 11/05/07