It’s no secret that public schools aren’t always the best advocates for the First Amendment, but that didn’t keep one brave student from taking a stand against her high school’s administration.
When administrators told Mary Carmen Zakrajsek, president of Carmel Teens for Life, that they removed her banner with a pro-life message in the Carmel High School cafeteria, she knew that the battle was about more than just the right to speak freely. It was a battle over worldview.
"It definitely sparked a conversation," Zakrajsek said. "That is something that we wanted, for students to talk about adoptions, about abortions.” Zakrajsek and her club reached out to the Liberty Counsel, a non-profit legal First Amendment advocacy organization, and Indiana Family Institute, to come up with a plan. Soon thereafter, her coalition delivered a threat of legal action to the District, and they backed down.
Mary Carmen and the Teens for Life had taken a stand and won.
"You want a robust First Amendment environment for students to enjoy all of the privileges and rights they have as citizens to take up the tough topics of the day and wrestle with them," IFI President Curt Smith said. "We were distressed when we learned what had happened and thought the administration at a minimum overreacted and may have gone even further."
Mary Carmen later joined IFI to testify before the Indiana General Assembly in support of HB 1024, a student religious freedom bill that passed the Indiana House of Representatives Monday by an 83-12 vote (click here to see if your representative supported the bill).
This isn’t the end of IFI’s fight to protect religious freedom and speech in Carmel. IFI has also sued Carmel municipal government over an ordinance that infringes on the religious liberties of ministries, churches and the faithful. We’ll keep you up to date on this lawsuit through our email updates. Click here to subscribe to our emails!