Settlement reached in Missouri lawsuit about anti-abortion posters

Wednesday, June 13, 2012 | 4:00 p.m. CDT

ST. LOUIS — A Christian civil rights group and a south-central Missouri school district settled a lawsuit over the display of anti-abortion posters.

The settlement was announced Wednesday by the Arizona-based Alliance Defense Fund. ADF filed the lawsuit in February against the Dixon School District after high school officials removed posters promoting the "Pro-Life Day of Silent Solidarity," but allowed posters for other student activities and expression.

The ADF said the lawsuit was dropped because the district has revised its policies. It now allows students to post religious and anti-abortion material along with other postings in designated areas.

"Public schools should encourage, not shut down, the free exchange of ideas," ADF legal counsel Jeremy Tedesco said. "Students should not be marginalized just because their pro-life views may not line up with school politics."

ADF said the prohibition of abortion-related posters was in contrast to the district allowing other postings, including photographs of students appearing like zombies and political and anti-drug messages. Tedesco said the district also allowed posters for the Gay-Straight Alliance's "Day of Silence."

Dixon Schools Superintendent Dawna Burrow said the district was pleased the lawsuit was resolved. She said the high school had 278 students in the 2011-12 school year.

ADF had filed the lawsuit in federal court in Springfield on behalf of a senior female student, claiming that prohibiting the posters violated the First and 14th amendments to the U.S. Constitution, as well as the Missouri Religious Freedom Restoration Act. ADF filed a voluntary dismissal of the case on May 31.

Dixon, a town of about 1,500 residents, is in Pulaski County, near Rolla.


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