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School permits students to form pro-life group — but only after threat of legal action

A New Mexico middle school finally allows students to form a pro-life group — but not before receiving a threat of legal action. (ALICE RITCHIE/AFP/Getty Images)

A Rio Rancho, New Mexico, middle school will permit its students to form a pro-life group. The move by Rio Rancho Middle School comes after a nonprofit legal group sent a claim of discrimination to the school after the school initially refused the group's formation.

What are the details?

The school initially denied the group's formation in 2017 when eighth-grade student Dylan Fredette attempted to set up Students for Life, the Albuquerque Journal reported. Fredette even had a teacher who had volunteered to moderate the group if approved.

School principal Lynda Kitts reportedly told Fredette that creating such a group would not be fair to those who are pro-choice and denied his request.

In response, the Thomas More Society, a nonprofit legal group, began sending letters of complaint to the district superintendent and the school itself, noting that the principal's decision violated the student's First Amendment rights, according to the Journal.

The group also threatened to file a federal civil rights action suit if the district didn't reply to the letter or permit the formation of the club.

The Thomas More Society announced last week that the school decided to permit the club.

Why did the school allow the pro-life club to form?

In a statement to the Albuquerque Journal, a spokesperson for the district said students from another school in the district had formed anti-abortion club at a different school, and that the district supported students' rights to form such clubs.

The spokesperson also added that the district has certain processes in place in order to address student and parent concerns, but noted that such processes were not followed in Fredette's case.

"In this case," the spokesperson explained, "we wish the process would have been followed, as there would have been a simple resolution."

What did the nonprofit legal group say?

Joan Mannix, Thomas More Society's special counsel, told the Christian Post, "We appreciate that the Rio Rancho School District finally decided to honor the First Amendment rights of its students. Sadly, it took the threat of legal action for the school to recognize the rights they consistently previously denied students."

"The Thomas More Society pointed out that Principal Lynda Kitts was wrong to deny a pro-life group at Rio Rancho Middle School. She stated such a club was 'too controversial' and that other students might disagree with the pro-life point-of-view. She refused to approve the pro-life club even after she was asked to reconsider her denial," Mannix explained.

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