West Career and Technical Academy in Las Vegas, Nevada, may be ranked as one of America’s Best High Schools, but if pro-life rankings came into play, that rating would plummet.
A sophomore at West Career and Technical Academy is the latest student to be denied the right to start a pro-life club because it’s too “controversial” and exclusive.
Saying pro-abortion students may feel left out and “there were others ‘more qualified’ to speak on the issue than a high school sophomore,” the school has denied Angelique Clark her application to form the club. But Clark has taken her case from the halls of the high school to the Thomas More Society, which alleges that Clark’s First Amendment rights are being denied.
Thomas More Society issued a demand letter Thursday to Amy Dockter-Rozar, principal of West Career and Technical Academy, and the Clark County School District on behalf of Clark and Students for Life of America.
Thomas More Society says, “The letter charges that school administrators have unconstitutionally discriminated against Angelique by denying her the right to form a Students for Life club at West Career and Technical Academy.”
It also notes that “the school’s refusal to allow the Students for Life club constitutes a violation of the students’ rights under both the federal Equal Access Act and the First Amendment to the United States Constitution. All students who wish to form non-curricular clubs must be treated equally, even if the clubs they wish to form are religious or political.”
Jocelyn Floyd, associate counsel at the Thomas More Society, said:
“Denying students their right to form a pro-life club on the grounds that it’s ‘too controversial’ and ‘not inclusive’ is an affront to the First Amendment. High school administrators should encourage their students to engage in dialogue on important societal issues, not censor the message simply because there are differing viewpoints.”
Clark’s quest to form a pro-life club began last December when she initially applied. She was met with silence. She says she finally heard in February from her advisor, “that Vice Principal Mr. Allan Yee had denied the club.” After meeting with Yee, Clark “was given a variety of reasons why the club could not be approved, including that abortion was ‘controversial,’ that a pro-life club would make pro-choice people feel left out, and that there were others more qualified'” to speak on the issue than a high school sophomore.
Of course, it takes no special qualifications to speak out on pro-life issues. Anyone who can understand the value of that gift, but the school didn’t see it that way. Clark wasn’t trying to sway anyone, she said; she simply wants to use her freedom of speech in her school as any other student can.
“I am not asking the administration to agree with my pro-life position,” Clark said. “I am simply asking the school to give pro-life students at West Career and Technical Academy the opportunity to make our voices heard. We want to discuss our view on an important topic—why choosing life is important. This may be a controversial issue, but that doesn’t mean we should lose our right to free speech.”
Kristan Hawkins, president of Students for Life of America added:
“No high school administrator has the right to deny pro-life students their free speech rights. Brave students like Angelique set amazing examples for their peers both in their own communities and on a national level by standing up not only for the preborn and their mothers facing unplanned pregnancies, but for their own First Amendment rights as well. We are so proud of Angelique, who reached out to Students for Life of America for assistance, and for our attorneys at the Thomas More Society for their help to make Angelique’s Students for Life group an official, school-based club, with the same rights as her peers.”
Sadly, this is the latest in a string of high schools denying students their First Amendment and Equal Access rights. Just last week, students at two Fargo high schools had pro-life clubs approved after demands from Thomas More Society and a stream of rhetoric from the district. And last month, an Iowa high school was also under fire for denying a pro-life club.
Although this trend is troubling, Thomas More Society and Students for Life of America continue to stand with pro-life teenagers across the nation who have the courage to speak out for the preborn, as well as to fight for their own rights to speech in the public arena.