High School Denies Student’s Request to Start Pro-Life Club, But Allows Animal Rights Group

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It [Gulf Coast High School] recognizes the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, the Animal Rights Club, the Gay Straight Alliance, and Collier Students for Change, which is affiliated with the Florida Democratic Party, as school clubs.

Below is a report from Micaiah Bilger, Life News about a battle between a Florida High School and a student-led pro-life club.  

A Florida student is fighting for her legal right to begin a pro-life club at her high school this week. Gabrielle Gabbard applied to start a pro-life club, Sharks 4 Life, in August at Gulf Coast High School, but was refused, according to Alliance Defending Freedom, the pro-life legal group that is representing her. The club would be affiliated with Students for Life of America, which has more than 1,200 student clubs across the country.

On Thursday, ADF sent a letter to the Florida school explaining that Gabbard has a right to form the student organization under the federal Equal Access Act.

According to ADF, the school claimed Gabbard’s club would be too “political” and “controversial” — even though it recognizes the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, the Animal Rights Club, the Gay Straight Alliance, and Collier Students for Change, which is affiliated with the Florida Democratic Party, as school clubs.

“The First Amendment doesn’t permit a public school to play favorites when approving student organizations. Gulf Coast High School must recognize Sharks 4 Life, and Collier County Public Schools needs to update its policies so that this doesn’t happen again,” said ADF Legal Counsel Michael Ross.

According to the legal group, Assistant Principal Catherine Crawford-Brown refused to recognize the club during a meeting with Gabbard and one of her faculty advisors. They said Crawford-Brown also threatened to fire the advisor unless she withdrew her offer to be the club advisor.

“Crawford-Brown made these remarks even though she knew that the club needed a faculty advisor to be approved. Because of these remarks, both of the faculty advisors promptly withdrew as faculty advisors for the club,” according to ADF.

Their letter asks the school district to revise its policy by Nov. 21 to specify that its schools will consider requests for new student clubs in a timely manner and will not discriminate against the club because of its religion, politics, philosophy or other beliefs.
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Students for Life of America President Kristan Hawkins said students increasingly are facing hostility because of their pro-life position.

“Across the country, we are seeing incredible opposition to the pro-life speech of our student leaders and volunteers as they speak for the defenseless and educate their fellow students on abortion,” Hawkins said. “But the law and the Constitution are clear on the matter: Public schools cannot single out pro-life groups for exclusion from recognition. Officials in Collier County need to do the right thing and do it quickly

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Students For Life of America Leadership Summit Draws High School and College Students

Villanova University is where one of the oldest pro-life college groups that ever started at the beginning of the movement. On Saturday, February 16th, the campus would host 50 students that represented various high school and colleges in the Philadelphia area.

The day began with a welcome from Liana Hollendonner, the Students for Life of America regional coordinator for the states of Pennsylvania and Delaware.

She opens with a reminder to those in attendance to remember to be bold and courageous on their campuses.  Reflecting on Martin Luther King’ legacy, pro-lifers are called to share the message of abortion with controversy and be bold in their convictions.

“The best approach when dialoguing with others is to find common ground and share stories.”

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A student panel followed the opening address, which included Dominic Sceski (Villanova), Karly Brown and Sean Harney (Temple), and Mike Prieto, (Bishop Shanahan High School).

Temple students Karly Brown and Sean Harney shared how they countered Planned Parenthood workers who showed up on campus by drawing confusion with the signature pink colors of the organization and handing out information dispelling the common myths of the organization.

Mike Prieto of Bishop Shanahan High School, which won the national award from Students for Life of America (see article here: Bishop Shanahan Wins National Award) He acknowledges how Planned Parenthood never shows up to school giving its Catholic setting. It pays off. Every 1st Saturday the group participates in the vigil outside of the Planned Parenthood in West Chester and they notice how not many of their peers enter the facility while they are praying.

Dominic Sceski is a part of a family dynasty with his older brothers (Blaise and Colin) who were active in the pro-life group at Villanova. He reminds those gathered to communicate truth better and not get too confrontational.

There was even time for breakout sessions. The speakers included Dr. Monique Ruberu, Dan Bartkowiak, Brooke McDowell, and Sarah Portis.

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Dan Bartkowiak from the Pennsylvania Family Institute and Council shared about the progress being made in promoting the culture of life in the state. Reflecting on the episode of Gosnell, he reminded those gathered that we must keep holding state officials accountable.  Since 1973, 2 million babies will be aborted in the state. Much work has to be done. Even the state passed a law to protect children with down syndrome. It is yet to be signed by pro-abort Governor Tom Wolf.

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Dr. Monique Ruberu took time to address the importance of being the hands and feet of God when outside of abortion facilities in our community. She shared a story of how a woman saw a sign promoting the abortion pill reversal hotline and it would soon help her choose life for a precious girl she gave birth to around the Christmas season. Despite the poverty she was in, Monique and several women got together and threw her a baby shower. She was showered with love.

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The final speaker was a colleague and friend of Liana named Stephanie Schmitt. Like Liana, she works for Students for Life as the regional coordinator of the capital area, which includes Virginia, Maryland, and the District of Columbia. Schmitt took time to encourage the students to be more involved and ready to respond if Planned Parenthood and other abortion-rights groups enter their campus with a rapid response. Some helpful tips were: record any acts of vandalism, writing letters to the editor, hosting drives for diaper collections, and tabling to recruit more members. She used examples of how students countered sex week on one campus by reminding them of pregnancy resources and the hotline if women become victims of sexual assaults.

The students were energized and ready to take on the abortion lobby should they set foot on their campus.

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