Students Speak Out in Religious Discrimination Lawsuit Over San Diego Public School Vaccine Mandate

The students involved in a lawsuit seeking a preliminary injunction against San Diego Unified School District’s COVID-19 vaccination mandate have filed passionate declarations with the court. The students and their parents are suing the school district, its officials and board members, over religious discrimination being perpetrated against them via the district’s COVID-19 vaccine policy. Thomas More Society attorneys are representing the families, all of whom have sincere religious objections to the currently available COVID-19 vaccines, and for which SDUSD officials have said no religious exemption or accommodation will be contemplated.

The original lawsuit, brought in October 2021 by a student athlete and her family, was amended in April 2022 to include two more families covering three additional students, each of whom is involved in the performing arts or athletics within the district. Each of these children’s education will be greatly impeded and their extracurricular participation crushed by the school district and its unconstitutional refusal to include a religious exemption among its many other COVID-19 vaccination exemptions. Due to fear of retaliation, the students are using pseudonyms and not revealing their genders or other identifying characteristics.

Paul M. Jonna, partner at LiMandri & Jonna LLP and Thomas More Society Special Counsel, explained that the San Diego Unified School District policy has what he calls “an obviously unconstitutional framework.” “Eleven Ninth Circuit judges—over a third of that court—have already recognized that SDUSD’s refusal to offer exemptions for religious students is unconstitutional. The Supreme Court was also poised to strike down this mandate, but SDUSD evaded emergency review by delaying its mandate to the summer. Its procedural gamesmanship is only delaying the inevitable and, in the meantime, causing real harm to real kids.”

One of the students involved in the case, a 16-year-old using the pseudonym Terry Roe, wrote about a personal faith objection to the COVID vaccine, in the filed Declaration of Plaintiff Terry Roe in Support of Plaintiffs’ Motion for a Preliminary Injunction:

“Scripture teaches me, and I believe, that God formed everyone in their mother’s womb and that everyone has a unique purpose and a plan designed by God for their lives. God doesn’t make mistakes. For this reason, I am strongly against abortion… I have learned from my pastors and my parents, and even some reading and research on my own, about how all of the COVID-19 vaccines were developed using material from abortions. Some may be worse than others, but because I believe there’s never a justification for participating in, cooperating with or thinking any good can come out of abortion, I cannot take any of the vaccines. That would be supporting or thinking there could be any benefit from abortion, which is the murder of babies.”

Terry’s sibling, referred to in the lawsuit by the pseudonym Taylor Roe, age 15, echoes the sentiment in the filed Declaration of Plaintiff Taylor Roe in Support of Plaintiffs’ Motion for a Preliminary Injunction:

“I want to follow what the Bible says. It says that every person that God formed is unique and has a purpose. He formed them at the moment of conception. Because of this, abortion is not okay… That’s why it’s against my Christian beliefs to get a vaccine that had anything to do with abortion. That’s why I don’t want to get the COVID-19 vaccines.”

The students’ entire family has already dealt with COVID-19 and is exhibiting the expected natural immunity to the virus.

Another 16-year-old plaintiff in the case, identified as Adrian Poe, is no less passionate in objecting to the vaccine, referring to lifelong Catholic beliefs in the filed Declaration of Plaintiff Adrian Poe in Support of Plaintiffs’ Motion for a Preliminary Injunction:

“I had no idea that any vaccines used cells from aborted babies. I only learned about this through hearing about the COVID-19 vaccines. After learning about this, I asked more questions and learned about how all of the COVID-19 vaccines either used fetal cell lines to be developed or tested. I think that’s completely horrible. It’s completely against my faith because abortion is a huge issue. Stated simply, abortion is murder and the ends can never justify the means. By getting a COVID-19 vaccine I would be participating in a great evil that is against my faith.”

The school district’s policy, which refuses to grant religious exemptions, allows unvaccinated students with a medical exemption to attend school in person and participate in school athletics. It also permits teachers to obtain religious exemptions and teach class in person. It also only applies to students who are age 16 at the beginning of a semester, exempting more than 85% of the student body.

Read the Memorandum of Points & Authorities in Support of Plaintiffs’ Motion for a Preliminary Injunction filed May 11, 2022, in the United States District Court for the Southern District of California by Thomas More Society attorneys, with a hearing date of June 15, 2022, before Judge Linda Lopez in John Doe, et al. v. San Diego Unified School District, et al. here.

SOURCE Thomas More Society