This one is a high school equivalent of the various college cases going on involving whether a school can refuse recognition of a religious group because it restricts its membership to members of that same religion. It involves a public high school in Kent County, Washington that refuses to recognize a student bible study group because that group requires that its members be Christians who accept the Bible as the authoritative word of God. The case is currently in the appeals court in the 9th circuit, where a 3 judge panel just heard oral argument on it. The district court ruled in favor of the school.
This is similar to several ongoing lawsuits over whether universities can refuse to recognize student groups that discriminate, but there’s one obvious difference here: the Equal Access Act, which requires that all non-curricular student groups in public high schools be treated equally, without regard to the group’s views or the content of the speech that takes place at their meetings. And this is another case where I’m going to agree with the Alliance Defense Fund, the group representing the student group: the group should absolutely be allowed to set its own standards for membership, just like any other student group.
We would not think of demanding that a student Democratic Club allow Republicans to join the group and take positions of leadership. Nor would we require that an Environmental Club admit those who oppose environmentalism, or that a feminist group admit anti-feminists. No student has a right to join a group whose mission they reject; what they do have a right to do, under both Federal law and the constitution, is to form their own group and control the membership of that group. That’s called the right of expressive association.