For Immediate Release
ACLU and FFL Win Case for Teen Moms
A federal court ruled that two high school seniors whose school denied them National Honor Society membership because they became pregnant and chose to give birth must be admitted into the society. The case was brought by the American Civil Liberties Union and supported by Feminists for Life of America.
FFL's Executive Director Serrin Foster filed an affidavit asserting that the Grant County School system was sending a strong and dangerous message to choose between education and career plans or one's children. The actions of the Grant County School District "encourage students to hide their pregnancies and not seek prenatal care (thereby putting them and their babies at medical risk) and instead obtain an abortion," or "commit neonatal infanticide."
As a result of FFL's work on their College Outreach Program and on welfare reform, FFL has developed significant insight into and expertise regarding the relationship between education, poverty and welfare, and the reasons driving women and girls to abortion and infanticide.
Somer Chipman and Chasity Glass, both 17-year-old mothers, had been denied entry to the National Honor Society chapter in Grant County High School in Williamstown, Ky., despite outstanding academic records.
Saying that "the balance tips decidedly in favor of" Grant County High School students Somer Chipman Hurston, 17, and Chasity Glass, 18, Chief Judge William O. Bertelsman, Jr. issued a preliminary injunction ordering the Grant County School Board to admit the students into the society for the rest of their senior year while they wait for their case to come to trial.
Despite their top grades and records of high achievement, Chipman and Glass were the only students in the school eligible for membership to be excluded from the 1998 induction into the National Honor Society (NHS).
In court papers filed on August 6, 1998, the ACLU said the school had illegally discriminated against the students, violating Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, the state and federal Constitutions, and the Kentucky Civil Rights Act.
Somer Chipman, 17, was pregnant at the time of the honor society induction last April. She gave birth on June 1 to a daughter, Cheyenne, and married her 20-year-old fiancÚ, Shawn Hurston, in August. Chasity Glass, 18, is the mother of 20-month-old Shelby. The lawsuits were brought on the students' behalf by their mothers, Brenda Jones and Sheila Glass.
"If Ms. Chipman and Ms. Glass had had abortions, their sexual activity would not have become known to school officials. Actions such as those of the Grant County School District thus send a message that a decision to carry a pregnancy to term will be punished," Foster said in her affidavit. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, nearly 4 in 10 teen pregnancies (excluding miscarriages) end in abortion. There were more than 308,000 abortions among teens in 1992.
Like the early American feminists who opposed abortion, Feminists for Life works to systematically
eliminate the root causes that drive women to abortion by facilitating practical solutions. FFL has emerged as a link
between the pro-life and pro-choice worlds, working on legislative efforts such as child support enforcement, the Violence
Against Women Act and opposing the child exclusion provisions in welfare reform. FFL is a non-sectarian, grassroots
organization dedicated to empowering women through progressive, non-violent choices for themselves and their children.
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