A second Long Island high school is being accused of banning a student-led Christian club, with a conservative legal firm demanding that officials reverse course and allow the group.
Administrators at Wantagh High School in Wantagh, New York, recently denied a student’s application to form “Dare to Believe,” a faith-based club, according to the Liberty Institute.
That student, Liz Loverde — a sophomore at the school — claims to have delivered her proposed club to the principal, who purportedly told her that Christian campus groups are “illegal.”
The administrator feared that “Dare to Believe” would ”cause too much trouble” and debate in the community, according to the law firm.
“Life appeared to me as something not worth having or living. Maybe, right now, teenagers are feeling the same way I did, and saying that life has nothing for them and that no one would care if they lived or died. Through “Dare to Believe” Christian Club I want students to know that while they’re going through these tought times, (depression, parents divorce, self-harm, suicide, anxiety, bullying, etc.) Jesus Christ offers them another view of life; a view that is truly beautiful.”
Following the refusal, Loverde sought the Liberty Institute’s assistance in moving the issue forward. And the firm, alongside Bancroft, its partner it the case, sent a letter to the school on November 17, demanding that officials allow the club.
“We just want to study the Bible together and serve our classmates and community by exercising the same freedom that everyone else has at our school,” Loverde said in a statement. “Wantagh High School has more than 30 official student clubs. Why won’t Wantagh recognize our faith-based student club?”
The district, though, has denied that the principal rejected the club, claiming that it is still under review, according to WABC-TV.
“As it is required with all student clubs, proper protocol and procedures must be followed and implemented before the club can be formally recognized,” a statement read. “The district is currently reviewing this request.”
A statement also said that the request is being reviewed alongside legal counsel and the board of education, News 12 Long Island reported.
The Liberty Institute argues that public school students have every right to have and lead campus religious clubs under the law.
“School officials on Long Island do not seem to understand that the Equal Access Act of 1984 makes it illegal to deny students — and especially a minority of students — the right to form a Christian club on campus,” Liberty Institute attorney Jeremy Dys said in a statement.
The Liberty Institute has given the school until November 24 to respond in writing that the issue has been resolved, pledging to sue if necessary to defend Loverde’s right to a Christian club.
This comes just weeks after Ward Melville High School in East Setauket, New York, reportedly issued a similar denial before backtracking and allowing a Christian club.
What do you think? Would you have fought back or would you accept defeat in light of increasing religious restriction?