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The Saddleback Valley Unified School District in Mission Viejo, California, voted September 4 to reverse course and allow all extracurricular clubs, including religious groups, to meet at district high schools.

The decision nullifies a district policy adopted in June that banned more than 25 clubs from meeting during school or advertising on campus. This followed a state appellate court ruling that the district could not discriminate against a Fellowship of Christian Athletes (FCA) group at Mission Viejo High School (CT, June 11, p. 17).

"I believe what really played a role was the outcry of parents in the community and the outrage over this intolerant policy against Christian clubs," said Brad Dacus of the Sacramento-based legal defense organization Pacific Justice Institute, which had sued the district.

Board President Dore Gilbert says he hopes members of the religious community will stand by the board

if it allows clubs based on racial identity or sexual orientation. "We can't have it both ways," Gilbert says. "Either we restrict clubs to curriculum-based only or we must be open to anyone."

Dacus, however, says the issue is that the board would have lost in court again, having shown "unconstitutional intent" in attempting to exclude only the FCA. He says the board took the "fiscally prudent route" in allowing noncurricular clubs back on campus.

Related Elsewhere:

Christianity Today previously covered the Saddleback District court case over the Fellowship of Christian Athletes.

Board of Education minutes for the district further explains the new "limited open forum for high school clubs."

...

The Pacific Justice Institute also has a press release about the appellate court ruling and subsequentdevelopments before the district's ...

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Free Speech: School District Reverses Course
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October 22, 2001

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