Jocelyn is the legal counsel involved on the pro-life side of this issue, and Kirstan’s group was the one helping the students get organized.
It was an interesting interview (listen to the whole thing above), and I learned a few things about the situation.
[mks_pullquote align=”right” width=”300″ size=”24″ bg_color=”#000000″ txt_color=”#ffffff”]Tolerance is not expunging controversial ideas like religion or political views from the public square. Tolerance is allowing them all in, and expecting people to live and work side by side despite their differences.[/mks_pullquote]
First, Fargo Public Schools has allowed some access for the pro-life groups the students wanted to set up, but that access would have fallen under a restricted category of “outside agencies.” This would mean that the group is not formally recognized by the school and that the group could not but up banners advertising their meetings and activities nor could they be included in school announcements. The pro-lifers don’t think their group should be treated this way. They want their group treated the same as other student groups.
Second, these schools already have similar groups such as a Gay Straight Alliance chapter. The reason why the pro-life groups felt they were being discriminated against is because they feel they are in the same category with groups like the Gay Straight Alliance and want the same treatment.
Third, I asked Kristan specifically if she would be supportive of a pro-abortion advocacy organization pushing to form a similar student group. She said that not only would she support that in Fargo, she has supported it elsewhere in the country. She said it’s important for students to understand both sides of this issue.
Jocelyn said that it is their intent to avoid litigation – they’d prefer that the Fargo Public Schools simply allow the same access for the pro-life groups as other student groups – but she didn’t rule out that possibility. Currently the pro-lifers have only sent FPS a demand letter which explains to them their position on the law.
As I mentioned on the radio, I don’t think we do our students any favors when we resort to these sort of exclusionary policy. The world is a controversial place filled with diverse and often contradictory viewpoints. I see no reason why schools should be an environment where those viewpoints (or, it seems, some of those viewpoints) aren’t allowed. Recognizing that academics come first, and that we should work to avoid groups or activities that are distracting from that mission, I generally think that pro-life and pro-abortion groups should be allowed equal access.
Tolerance is not expunging controversial ideas like religion or political views from the public square. Tolerance is allowing them all in, and expecting people to live and work side by side despite their differences.