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Divisive political issues have been splitting the nation, and many Americans have responded by joining political organizations or forming their own. When public school students decide to form groups with a political, religious or philosophical perspective, it is important for school leaders to know their legal obligations when responding to requests from student groups to meet or raise funds on school grounds.

A federal law called the Equal Access Act prohibits schools from engaging in a kind of bias sometimes called “viewpoint discrimination.” This means that if a district permits a single noncurriculum-related student organization to either raise money or meet on school grounds, it cannot lawfully deny the same kinds of opportunity to other noncurriculum-related student groups based on the content of their political or religious views.

According to federal courts, a noncurriculum-related student group is any student group that does not directly relate to the body of courses offered by the school.

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