William Clark was a senior at Democracy Prep Public Schools during the 2020-2021 school year. Democracy Prep places civics education at the heart of its academic mission. Through a class titled “Sociology of Change”, William and his classmates participated in a deeply personal and, at times, divisive discussion around race, religion and sexuality.
The purpose of the class is to help students “unlearn” what they know about the world, and what their parents have taught them to believe, and instead to adopt a new worldview that “fights back” against “oppressive” social structures such as family, religion, and racial, sexual, and gender identities.
William, as part of a requirement to graduate, participated in the class and a series of exercises that required him to divulge his most intimate characteristics and beliefs — graded him on it. When he refused to continue, he was given a grade that had a severe negative impact on his opportunities in the highly competitive world of college admissions.
The First Amendment’s freedom of speech includes both the right to speak and the right not to be compelled by the government to speak something you do not believe. Schools may not compel a student to speak their private opinions about personal identity in front of their teacher and classmates in a way that is opposite to their values and beliefs. This creates an overall classroom experience that is hostile for the student with those particular values and beliefs. Unfortunately, this is exactly what has happened to William Clark in his “Sociology of Change” class at Democracy Prep Public Schools.
Gabrielle and William reached out to nonprofit organization No Left Turn in Education when they realized William’s rights were being violated. NLTE, led by Dr. Elana Fishbein, provides parents, students and teachers with the resources to understand and combat curriculum that violates students’ and educators’ rights. NTLE refers parents to Liberty Justice Center for legal assistance when students’ rights are violated.
Attorneys from the Liberty Justice Center are representing William and his mother, Gabrielle Clark. They’ve filed claims for declaratory judgement and damages, seeking to right the wrongs that have been done to Mr. Clark.
Clark v. State Public Charter School Authority was filed on December 22, 2020, in the U.S. District Court for the District of Nevada.