ACLU Files Lawsuit Against School District That Banned After-School Satan Clubs
Kate Anderson on March 31, 2023
The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) filed a lawsuit Thursday against a Pennsylvania school district after they allegedly revoked permission for The Satanic Temple (TST) to host an After-School Satan Club on the district’s property, according to a press release.
Saucon Valley School District (SVSD) reportedly denied a request by TST’s club to use school facilities after receiving calls and messages from concerned members of the district, according to the lawsuit. TST argues in the lawsuit that denying its club is a violation of the First Amendment when another religious club is allowed to use school facilities but the After-School Satan Club is not.
“The Saucon Valley School District’s decision to cancel the After School Satan Club in response to public opposition sets a dangerous precedent,” Sara Rose, deputy legal director of the ACLU of Pennsylvania, said in the press release. “The First Amendment protects the expression of unpopular or controversial views from government censorship. Once the district opened up school facilities to outside use, it was bound by the First Amendment to grant equal access to all groups, regardless of their religious beliefs or viewpoints.”
The club’s approval was announced to the district community on Feb. 20, 2023, in an email from Superintendent Jaime Vlasaty, according to the lawsuit. The email explained that the district could not discriminate against the TST club but noted that it does not “endorse any of the groups or content affiliated with groups that host after-school events on District property.”
Following the email, the district received dozens of calls and messages protesting the club and two days later on Feb. 22, Vlasaty said that the club’s approval was under further review, according to the lawsuit. On Feb. 24, the district rescinded its approval for the club, claiming that TST had violated one of the SVSD’s policies by not making it explicitly clear that the school did not endorse the club or its content.
“The disruption to the District’s operations resulting from [TST]’s violation of Policy 707, vis-à-vis it’s misleading advertising, has undoubtedly interfered with the educational program of the District, creating a substantial disruption to the education of the District’s students,” Vlasaty wrote in an announcement to parents.
June Everett, director of TST’s ASSC programming, said in the press release that the club is a “critical space” for students.
“The After School Satan Club provides a critical space for students who may feel unwelcome at other after-school religious clubs,” Everett said. “By prohibiting the ASSC from meeting in school facilities, the district is sending a discriminatory message to the club’s students that they are second class and don’t deserve the same opportunities as their peers.”
Religious advocates have warned about the clubs, arguing that what they teach students is the “antithesis of religion” and explained that the clubs are designed to target religious rights, since TST only brings a club on campus if there is a religious club already there, according to its website.
The ACLU and SVSD did not immediately respond to the Daily Caller News Foundation’s request for comment.
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