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Judge won’t throw out Forest Hills lawsuit challenging ban of race, identity discussions



Judge won't throw out Forest Hills lawsuit challenging ban of race, identity discussions

A lawsuit that seeks to stop the Forest Hills School District from enforcing a resolution banning discussion of issues like race and identity can proceed despite the district’s attempt to dismiss it, a judge ruled Thursday. The next court date has yet to be set.

The order from U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Ohio Judge Michael Barrett is a win for community members who say the resolution is infringing upon their First Amendment rights. It is not supposed to be enforced during litigation.

Nicole Lundrigan, one of the lawyers representing parents and students in the case, said the judge’s decision “confirms the harm suffered by our clients and the rest of our school community as a result of this resolution.”

The school board wrote it “intends to defend the Resolution vigorously” following Barrett’s decision, “and looks forward to the opportunity to present its case to the court.”

Board member Leslie Rasmussen said the board’s statement doesn’t represent her and suggested rescinding the resolution.

More:State Rep. Rachel Baker says Forest Hills board won’t meet with her since she’s a Democrat

The school board passed what they called the “culture of kindness” resolution in June 2022. Members of the community sued the district over the resolution days later, saying it targets students of color and LGBTQ+ students, and makes them feel unwelcome and alienated.

Rather than promoting kindness, the lawsuit says, the board’s resolution “promotes hatred, racism and discrimination” and “robs students of information, ideas, and instructional approaches” that courts have previously deemed essential to the “preservation of this country’s democracy.”

“By prohibiting education, curriculum, and training regarding ‘anti-racism,’ the resolution instead promotes racism by its very definition,” the lawsuit reads.

Barrett also went against the school board’s claim that the resolution is a “vision statement” rather than a policy. He wrote that argument “defies logic and the basic conventions of the English language,” since the resolution uses words that can only be interpreted as mandatory.

Forest Hills serves more than 7,000 students in Anderson Township, an eastern suburb of Cincinnati. About 85% of the district’s students are white, according to state data.

The cost of controversy:Here’s how much money local schools spent on legal fees last year

Read Judge Barrett’s order

Oct. 26 order in Forest Hills case

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