ALLENTOWN, Pa. (ChurchMilitant.com) - The Thomas More Society has sent a demand letter to Parkland High School in Allentown, Pennsylvania, after a group of students were denied a request to start a pro-life club. When one of the students reached out to the assistant principal seeking guidance on starting the pro-life club, she received no response.
According to a press release sent to Church Militant Wednesday, the principal of the school verbally told the students that the group would be too "controversial" and "political," even though the high school has a gay-straight alliance as well as a political science club. The pro-homosexual group GLSEN estimates that there are 1,000 gay-straight alliance groups in public as well as private high schools in the United States. In comparison, Students for Life of America told Church Militant that there are 635 pro-life high school groups.
According to the demand letter, "Parkland High School's refusal to permit Elizabeth and Grace to create a pro-life club constitutes a violation of their rights under both the First Amendment to the United States Constitution and the federal Equal Access Act."
Senior Elizabeth Castro, one of the students interested in starting the group, said her organization, Trojans for Life, is being unfairly denied recognition by the school: "We met all of Parkland High School's requirements for beginning a club at the school. We were denied simply because we are pro-life."
The press release goes on to say, "Accordingly, a school may not permit some students to organize and express themselves on particular topics while forbidding others the same right —this creates an atmosphere where only 'approved' speech is permitted and violates the First Amendment as a content-based restriction."
Students For Life of America (SFLA) also commented on the situation at Parkland, saying, "The high school students we work with are passionate defenders of life, and oftentimes their schools put up unnecessary and unconstitutional obstacles when they try to start Students for Life clubs."
SFLA President Kristan Hawkins continued, "The school's baseless claim that the club would be too 'controversial' and 'political' is a common excuse we hear — and it's always infringing on the First Amendment rights of pro-life students, treating them as second-class citizens because they happen to want to educate their peers on the horrors of abortion and help pregnant and parenting students at their school."
This is the second episode of its kind to come out of Pennsylvania involving public school officials and pro-life students. Church Militant recently reported on the fiasco of Dr. Zach Ruff's confrontation with teenage, pro-life demonstrators Conner and Lauren Haines. Ruff was placed on administrative leave after being caught on video verbally abusing the students for peacefully demonstrating against abortion on a public sidewalk. Ruff eventually resigned after a public hearing on his conduct.
High schools are not the only place where students have been subject to repression and intimidation. Church Militant has reported on the unfair treatment of a pro-life group on campus at Fresno State University in California, where Professor Gregory Thatcher ordered his students to erase pro-life chalk slogans on campus before doing it himself on camera. Thatcher is now being sued by the pro-life group.
These antics aren't limited to public universities. Catholic DePaul University in Chicago took down pro-life posters on campus last October because, according to the university's president, Fr. Dennis Holtschneider, the "Unborn Lives Matter" poster represented "bigotry."
When Church Militant reached out to Parkland High School for comment, Parkland officials said they were investigating the matter and couldn't offer comment, noting, however, that they had received the same press release from Thomas More.