WASHINGTON (BP)–A St. Louis mom is suing the public high school that blocked her from observing a school-sponsored assembly conducted by the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network (GLSEN), according to a report on CNSNews.com.
Debra Loveless had told school officials she considered the event inappropriate but was trying to view it herself on Oct. 24, 2001, when she was escorted out of the assembly, according to Loveless’ attorneys, who filed a federal civil rights lawsuit May 10 in U.S. District Court in St. Louis. Loveless’ daughter attends Metro High School.
GLSEN bills itself as the country’s largest network of parents, students and educators aimed at preventing “discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender/identity expression in K-12 schools,” according to its website.
GLSEN did not return phone calls to CNSNews.com.
The group conducted two assemblies at Metro High School, Oct. 17 and Oct. 24 of last year, both of which Loveless’ daughter was exempted from attending because of the family’s religious beliefs, according to the American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ), the public interest law firm representing Loveless.
However, when, at the urging of a school board member, Loveless attempted to attend the Oct. 24 event, she was ejected by an armed security guard, the ACLJ stated.
Francis J. Manion, senior counsel for the ACLJ, said parents should be able to participate in activities at a public school to see if it is appropriate for their children.
“This case is about protecting the rights of parents to participate fully in the education of their children,” he said. “Parents do not abandon their rights as parents once their children go to school. Parents have a right to know what a school is teaching their children, and [they] should not be punished for exercising their parental responsibilities. That’s exactly what happened in this case.”
The ACLJ lawsuit contends that school officials deprived Loveless of her parental right to be fully informed of the content of her daughter’s education. The suit also claims Loveless’ constitutional rights of free speech and equal protection was infringed.
Manion believes there were ulterior motives to blocking Loveless from attending the assembly.
“The real reason we believe our client was not permitted to observe the school assembly is because the school did not like her religious objections to the assembly,” Manion said. “The only thing our client wanted was an apology and a change in the school policy governing the rights of parents to observe school assemblies.
“After Mrs. Loveless was ejected from the assembly, she had no choice but to file suit — to ensure that no other parent in St. Louis is treated in the same manner.”
The lawsuit names as defendants the superintendent of St. Louis Public Schools and the principal of Metro High School.
CNSNews.com attempted to contact the principal, Pamela Randall, but she was unavailable for comment.
Pyeatt is a staff writer with CNSNews.com. Used by permission.