For over nine months Aaron Grider, a sophomore at Farmington High School in Michigan, has been unsuccessfully trying to get his Christian Bible club recognized by the school as an official noncurriculum-related student club in order to receive the same benefits as other student clubs at the school. School officials told him that because his group's purpose was religious, and not secular, it would not become a recognized student group. Aaron contacted the Thomas More Law Center, a national Christian legal advocacy group based in Ann Arbor, Michigan.
The Thomas More Law Center announced it has filed a lawsuit on behalf of Aaron, his parents and the Bible Club, "ALIVE," in the Federal District Court in Detroit. The lawsuit alleges that the Farmington Public Schools and several school officials violated Aaron's constitutional and statutory rights by refusing to give a student-led Bible club the same rights as other student-led groups.
Richard Thompson, President and Chief Counsel of the Thomas More Law Center, stated, "The policy and attitude of Farmington High School represents the extreme secularism that has captured many public school systems in America. In this case the school policy not only violates the US Constitution, but also federal and state Equal Access Laws. Farmington High School has not provided ‘ALIVE' and its members the same access to school facilities it allows other non-religious student groups, and we intend to rectify that problem."
Farmington High School has recognized several noncurriculum-related student groups, including the Gay-Straight Alliance, R.E.A.C.H. (a diversity club), R.H.U.B.A.R.B. (Rockin' High-Schoolers Unite Because Art Reflects Beauty), the Equestrian Club and S.A.D.D. (Students Against Drunk Driving). Recognized groups are permitted to advertise their meetings over the school's public address system, appear in the school's yearbook, and receive other benefits denied to "ALIVE" and its members.
According to Edward L. White III, trial counsel with the Thomas More Law Center who is representing "ALIVE" and the Griders, "The Federal Equal Access Act was passed, in particular, to prevent the type of discrimination against Bible clubs that is taking place at Farmington High School. ‘ALIVE' and its members have the legal right to receive the same benefits and treatment that other noncurriculum-related student groups receive at Farmington High School."