A pro-life student at a Las Vegas high school has filed an official complaint against the school after a Students for Life (SFL) chapter experienced repeated discrimination on campus.
The student, Felipe Avila, contends that not only has the club been the target of repeated discrimination over several years, but that he himself has been subjected to bullying as a result of his pro-life stance. Avila previously served as the president of the SFL club, and now serves as its vice president. His repeated appeals to school administration to address the bullying have been ignored.
Avila is being represented by the Thomas More Society. On February 16, Thomas More Society attorneys sent a demand letter to East Career and Technical Academy and Clark County School Board officials, calling for the end to the discrimination against SFL, and insisting that the school officials take steps to put an end to the cyberbullying Avila has experienced due to his pro-life stance.
The demand letter also notes that “this is not the first time Clark County schools have engaged in such conduct.” In 2015, a federal lawsuit was filed after a pro-life group was the subject of discrimination at a different area high school.
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According to the Las Vegas Review-Journal, Students for Life first faced pushback from the school in 2020, when the assistant principal denied Avila and the group permission to chalk pro-life messages on a sidewalk, despite the fact that other student groups were given such permission. The school also barred the pro-life group from handing out flyers that advertised a pregnancy resource center. Other instances of discrimination include the rejection of visual graphic inclusion within a school newsletter, censorship of promotional materials, and refusal to allow the group to hang a banner in a school area. In all instances, other groups within the school were granted permission, while SFL was denied.
“East Career and Technical Academy is discriminating against the Students for Life Club in contravention of federal law, and the school has failed to effectively remedy bullying against a leader of the club based on his pro-life viewpoint,” Thomas More Society Special Counsel Joan Mannix said in a press release.
The demand letter also contends that Avila has been the target of bullying, but school administrators have done nothing to stop it. “Perhaps the most distressing aspect of the entire situation is the blind eye that school administrators have turned to the bullying being committed against Felipe Avila,” Mannix added. “He has been stalked and threatened based on his pro-life views and leadership but the school has wholly failed to take effective steps to address the bullying.”
According to Avila, the abuse has been happening for several years. “It’s been incredibly stressful for me,” he told 8 News Now. “Oftentimes, I just couldn’t believe that this was happening. There have been anonymous accounts that have issued threats, that have called for my suicide.”
Avila hopes that the demand letter will cause the school to treat the pro-life club with fairness going forward. “What I want from the school district is to respect the constitutional rights of students like me,” he said.
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