A Massachusetts school district is backing away from holding racially segregated "affinity groups" after a non-profit filed a lawsuit.
The settlement was made between Wellesley Public Schools and non-profit Parents Defending Education on Monday and states that the school district will not exclude students from affinity groups or any other school activities on the basis of race.
The lawsuit was filed in October and challenged the district's "Bias Reporting Procedure," which, according to the lawsuit, gave the school the ability to punish speech that is "offensive" or "demonstrates conscious or unconscious bias." As part of the settlement, the school district also rescinded the reporting procedure.
Wellesley Public Schools promoted several racially segregated "affinity groups" in spring 2021, according to the lawsuit.
For example, the school district scheduled an affinity group session for "Asian and Asian American students and faculty" after several Asians were shot in Atlanta in March 2021, with teachers and administrators stating that the groups were "*not* for students who identify only as White," according to the lawsuit.
The school district said in a previous statement that the teachers' message was misconstrued.
"In an effort to further define this district invitation to an individual class of students in a developmentally appropriate manner, one of our teachers noted that this particular space was not designed for students who identify as white," it read. "The teacher’s intent, however imperfectly stated, was to help early secondary students better understand the intended audience for this affinity space, not prohibit anyone else from attending. No students or staff were turned away from participating in the healing space. In fact, participants on that day represented a range of racial groups, including white participants."
When Wellesley Public Schools hosts an affinity group session, it must state that "this event is open to all students regardless of race, color, sex, gender identity, religion, national origin, or sexual orientation."
Parents Defending Education President and Founder, Nicole Neily, told Fox News Digital that the settlement sends a clear message about racially segregated affinity groups.
"Parents Defending Education is thrilled that Wellesley Public Schools has agreed to respect both the First and Fourteenth Amendment rights of its students going forward. This settlement sends a clear message that racially segregating students in public schools is wrong – and there will be consequences. We have spent decades teaching our kids that racial segregation was and will always be wrong. We will not tolerate a return to segregation in 2022," Neily said.
Wellesley Public Schools said in a public statement that the dismissal of the lawsuit is a "win for Wellesley Public Schools and every school district engaged in important equity work."