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ADF letter prompts Montana high school to reinstate Christian student club

ADF represents students at Bozeman High School

Tuesday, Dec 8, 2020
BOZEMAN, Mont. – Alliance Defending Freedom attorneys representing Bozeman High School students and their Christian student club have secured recognition of the student group as an official non-curricular club and policy revisions from school district officials, allowing the group equal access to resources and the ability to recruit new members.

“The First Amendment doesn’t permit a public school to play favorites when approving student organizations,” said ADF Senior Counsel Tyson Langhofer, director of the ADF Center for Academic Freedom. “We commend Bozeman High School for correcting its error and restoring rightful status to BHS Fellowship of Christian Athletes. Students have the constitutionally protected freedom to organize around their shared beliefs.”

In December 2019, ADF sent a letter on behalf of several students and the Bozeman High School chapter of Fellowship of Christian Athletes. The letter, sent after school officials unlawfully revoked the Fellowship of Christian Athletes’ status as a school-sponsored club, explained that the derecognition of the Bozeman High School club, after over five years as a school-sponsored student club, violates the First Amendment and the federal Equal Access Act. The school has now responded by reinstating FCA’s official status as a non-curricular club and changing its policies to ensure that similar unconstitutional actions don’t occur in the future.

Bozeman High School recognizes many different non-curricular clubs on campus, including the Climate Crisis Club, Sexuality and Gender Alliance, Human Rights Club, Project X2+, and Native American Club.

As the ADF letter to the school explained, the Equal Access Act makes it illegal for the school “to deny equal access or a fair opportunity to, or discriminate against, any students who wish to conduct a meeting within that limited open forum on the basis of the religious, political, philosophical, or other content of the speech at such meetings.”
 
  • Pronunciation guide: Langhofer (LANG’-hoff-uhr)

The ADF Center for Academic Freedom is dedicated to ensuring freedom of speech and association for students and faculty so that everyone can freely participate in the marketplace of ideas without fear of government censorship.
 
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ABOUT Tyson Langhofer

Tyson C. Langhofer serves as senior counsel with Alliance Defending Freedom and director of its Center for Academic Freedom. Before joining ADF, Langhofer was a partner with Stinson Leonard Street LLP, where he worked as a commercial litigation attorney for 15 years and earned Martindale-Hubbell’s AV Preeminent® rating. Langhofer earned his Juris Doctor from Regent University School of Law, where he graduated cum laude in 1999. He obtained a B.A. in international business with a minor in economics from Wichita State University in 1996. A member of the bar in Kansas and Arizona, Langhofer is also admitted to practice in numerous federal district courts.