PA School District Protects Free Speech

By Samantha Grant

A school district in Downington, PA has agreed to a settlement regarding the protection of free speech on public sidewalks surrounding school property.

This settlement comes after Vice Principal Zack Ruff of Downington STEM Academy yelled at two teenagers carrying pro-life signs on the school’s sidewalks.

Connor Haines, 16, and his sister Lauren, 19, both homeschooled students, displayed signs of unborn babies before they were approached by Ruff.

“You can go to Hell where they are, too,” Ruff said. “They’re not children. They’re cells.”

As the students were leaving the school, Ruff began doing a song and dance to distract his students from the Haines siblings.

“Shut your mouth and don’t talk to my students,” Ruff also said.

Ruff was put on leave following the incident before he later resigned and admitted that his behavior had been inappropriate.

The Haines were represented by Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), a religious liberties organization.

“No government employee—especially someone with authority over students—should harass or threaten anyone for exercising their First Amendment protected freedoms in public,” said ADF Senior Counsel Kevin Theriot. “Connor and Lauren Haines were peacefully expressing their pro-life views, holding signs and talking to those passing by.”






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