“Public high schools cannot pick what groups they like and what groups they do not like, threatening students and faculty advisors who have another point of view. Pro-life students deserve to have their First Amendment rights protected”, said Kristan Hawkins, president of Students for Life of America.
WASHINGTON D.C. (11-07-19)– Students for Life of America, in conjunction with Alliance Defending Freedom, today sent a demand letter to Gulf Coast High School in Florida, asking them to approve the Students for Life group and change their policies district-wide to ensure that no other student faces similar discrimination.
Gabrielle Gabbard, a student at Gulf Coast High School, began her application to start Sharks 4 Life in early August. However, she ran into issues when she and one of her faculty advisors met with Catherine Crawford-Brown, the assistant principal at the school. At the meeting, Brown refused to approve the group and even threatened advisors with termination, which caused both advisors to withdraw immediately.
“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,” said Students for Life of America President Kristan Hawkins. “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.”
“Public school officials can’t refuse to recognize a student organization for being too ‘political’ or ‘controversial,’ especially when they have rightfully approved a whole host of other clubs formed around religious, political, and social interests,” said ADF Legal Counsel Michael Ross. “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.”
As Alliance Defending Freedom notes in the letter, the school currently recognizes 78 different groups, “including the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, the Animal Rights Club, the Gay Straight Alliance, and Collier Students for Change, which is affiliated with Florida’s Democratic Party.”
You can read Kristan Hawkins’ WSJ op-ed on common free-speech violations here.
For interviews, please contact Kristi Hamrick at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Students for Life of America is the nation’s largest pro-life student organization, with over 1,220 groups on high school and college campuses across the country. They have 28 groups in Florida.