The struggle for the soul of America – an epic, nation-shaping conflict often referred to as “the Culture Wars” – has been fought on many battlefields: in the courts, in the media, in the culture, in the churches, on TV and movie screens. But no ground has been harder fought on, or fought over, than our nation’s schools.
Many of the most crucial battles continue to be joined there, and three recent Alliance Defending Freedom-related legal engagements give some idea how the tide of conflict is running these days.
Earlier this month, 10 states filed suit challenging an Obama administration directive that would force public school students to share rooms on overnight school trips and undress in the same locker room with members of the opposite sex. (In doing so, they followed the example of 13 others who, in turn, followed earlier ADF efforts on behalf of parents and their children.)
“The Obama administration cannot unilaterally redefine federal law to serve its own political ends and lawlessly impose its will on local schools,” says ADF Legal Counsel Kellie Fiedorek. “The administration has exceeded its authority in threatening schools that choose to protect children’s privacy. Nebraska Attorney General Doug Peterson and the growing number of states across the country who joined him in this lawsuit are to be commended for exercising common sense and defending the privacy and safety of children.”
That so many states would take such concerted action together against this policy should give federal officials pause – but at present, indications are that the issue will have to be resolved in the courts. (Go here to learn more about the danger the administration’s policy poses – and how you can offer your support.)
Meanwhile, in Ohio, a major school district is combating Obama administration hardball legal efforts to force its embrace of this same policy. Federal officials with the U.S. Departments of Education and Justice are threatening to pull federal funding for special needs and underprivileged children if the district proceeds with its lawsuit against the same policy being challenged by the 23 states (as mentioned above). If the district doesn’t open up its schools’ overnight accommodations, locker rooms, showers, and restrooms to members of both sexes, the government will withhold the needed funds.
ADF attorneys are representing the Highland Local School District (which covers part of three Ohio counties) in asking a federal court to block the federal authorities’ planned retaliation.
The news is better in North Carolina, where officials at North Carolina State University have agreed to revise their school’s policy in the face of a lawsuit filed by ADF attorneys on behalf of Grace Christian Life – a group of students whose freedom to converse on campus about their beliefs and invite others to their meetings was severely (and selectively) restricted by administrators.
The university’s now-revised policy no longer unconstitutionally censors the free speech of students, and so Grace Christian Life has withdrawn its lawsuit.
And so it goes, in elementary, middle, and high schools, and on college campuses coast to coast, as educators – whether out of fear, confusion, or sympathy – embrace and submit to a social and political agenda designed to hypersexualize children, undermine traditional moral sensibilities, silence opposition, and censor freedom. These struggles are among the most aggressive of the Culture Wars – and perhaps the most far-reaching in their long-term impact on our children and grandchildren.
The best hope in these cases – as with so many involving religious freedom, marriage and families, and the sanctity of life – is that, wherever people of faith are standing together for their God-given, constitutionally-protected rights, we are seeing good things happen. We are seeing crucial legal victories. We are seeing God honored.
Pray, then, that courage will be contagious – that the people of God will come more and more to their feet in unity and confidence – and that the Culture Wars will end in wins that glorify our Lord, celebrate His truth, and accomplish His purposes.