Save the Baby Humans

Kentucky Pro-Life Students Denied Right to Free Expression

Photo by Lynn Mills
Photo by Lynn Mills (photo: Register Files)

Pro-life students in Kentucky have had a difficult week: In Union, KY, a pro-life group has been denied permission to hang posters in a school hallway advertising their meetings. And in Highland Heights, a cemetery of innocents display at Northern Kentucky University has been vandalized by protesters who seek to silence the pro-life message on campus.

High School Students for Life Group Denied Permission to Post Signs

A high school student association in Boone County, Kentucky had an idea: To attract incoming freshmen to their campus pro-life group, they planned to post signs during Freshman Orientation, encouraging students to join their effort in defense of Life.

Their posters were low-key. No pictures of aborted fetuses, severed arms, beating condemnations, no warnings.... No, the teen group from Larry A. Ryle High School in the town of Union, KY posted a simple message like this:

Save the Baby Humans
Ryle Students for Life
Meeting Every Friday
Mrs. Edmonds’ Room 218
Pizza, Drinks, & Cupcakes

Another poster featured a picture of Mother Teresa smiling at a baby. One shows picketers holding signs that read “We are pro-life.”

But Ryle High School Principal Matthew Turner has dubbed the posters “too controversial” and has denied permission to post any sort of pro-life message. On six of the seven posters submitted for approval, Principal Turner pinned a note: “Signs are to communicate information about meetings, not to promote or persuade.” Principal Turner is, according to 18-year-old Patrick Edwards, concerned that pregnant women or pro-choice students might “feel discriminated against.” The sole poster which was approved by the principal featured a photo of Holocaust victim Ann Frank, and made no mention of abortion.

Edwards, president of Ryle High School's “Students for Life” group, met twice with the principal in an effort to resolve the situation. On October 7, he sent an email requesting reconsideration of the policy. Finally, he sought the help of the national Students for Life group, which brought in outside attorneys to pursue legal action.

On Tuesday, October 13, Edwards sent a letter of demand to the principal, signed by Alliance Defending Freedom affiliates and attorneys by Todd V. McMurtry and Kyle M. Winslow of the Hemmer DeFrank Wessels law firm in Fort Mitchell, KY. The demand letter claims that Principal Turner has unconstitutionally discriminated against Patrick and the Ryle Students for Life club by censoring the placement of pro-life flyers, while other groups have been permitted to hang posters in support of various causes.

But Principal Turner, who was concerned that students “were being forced into the conversation,” released the following statement to Fox19 Now:

“We just received this letter today [Tuesday] and we’re reviewing the concerns within. We believe our school procedures are with full compliance with the law for student organizations. The school does not discriminate against students or student organizations in any way, including their religious and personal beliefs.”

Edwards disagrees. “Our aim is never to discriminate,” he insists, “but to lovingly present the pro-life message and make a positive impact on our school community.” Edwards insists that unless the principal reverses his position by 5:00 p.m. Tuesday, October 20, and permits the Students for Life group to post their flyers, the lawsuit against the school will proceed. In a statement on his Facebook page, Edwards said, “Hopefully the school will allow our club to exercise our First Amendment rights and the whole situation can be resolved in a peaceful and timely manner.”

NKU Pro-Life Display Is Vandalized

Meanwhile, a pro-life group at Northern Kentucky University learned October 15 that its cemetery of innocents display—a field of crosses representing lives lost to abortion—had been vandalized. Stolen were seven signs which accompany the display, explaining the pro-life message. The signs, which had been erected October 11, were peaceful, with non-inflammatory messages such as “Every child deserves the right to have his/her beautiful picture taken.”

A police report was filed, but so far, no arrests have been made in the case. This is not the first incident of vandalism against pro-life groups at NKU. In 2012, the cemetery of innocents display was vandalized; and before that, in 2006, a professor led a group of six students to destroy the cemetery display organized by the Students for Life group.