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Christian college groups support equal treatment at 9th Circuit

ADF attorneys file friend-of-the-court brief on behalf of two Christian student organizations

Wednesday, Feb 22, 2023

SAN FRANCISCO – Alliance Defending Freedom attorneys filed a friend-of-the-court brief on behalf of two Christian student organizations Wednesday with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit, urging the court to uphold the First Amendment rights of Christian student organizations and treat them the same as other campus groups.

ADF attorneys represent Ratio Christi and Chi Alpha on the brief filed in Fellowship of Christian Athletes v. San José Unified School District Board of Education. In the case, a chapter of Fellowship of Christian Athletes at Pioneer High School in San José is asking the San José Unified School District for reinstatement to its prior status as a recognized campus organization, and equal access to the resources and benefits that come with that recognition.

“Public schools should be fostering real diversity of thought, not discriminating against groups based on their religious or political beliefs,” said ADF Senior Counsel Tyson Langhofer, director of the ADF Center for Academic Freedom. “Today’s students will be tomorrow’s legislators, judges, and civic leaders. That’s why it’s so important that public high schools and colleges exemplify the First Amendment values they are supposed to be teaching to students.”

Fellowship of Christian Athletes served students at Pioneer High School for more than a decade. But in 2019, school officials stripped the student organization of its recognized status in response to a teacher’s targeted campaign against the club based on its deeply held religious beliefs on human sexuality and requirement that club leaders affirm those beliefs. The group, along with the national Fellowship of Christian Athletes organization, is filing suit asking the San José Unified School District to return its status as a recognized student group at Pioneer High School.

In recent years, ADF has reached successful settlements of lawsuits for Ratio Christi with universities in Texas, Georgia, and Colorado after the schools agreed to change their policies to protect the student group’s First Amendment rights.

  • Pronunciation guide: Langhofer (LANG’-hoff-uhr)

The ADF Center for Academic Freedom is dedicated to protecting First Amendment and related freedoms for students and faculty so that everyone can freely participate in the marketplace of ideas without fear of government censorship.

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