Pro-Life Students Fighting Back
Parkland High School in Allentown, Pennsylvania, Students Defend Their Rights
Some students in Parkland High School wanted to start a student pro-life group. They followed all of the guidelines required to start a group and submitted their completed proposal in March, but they were denied on the grounds that they would be too political and controversial. When Grace Schairer, a junior, sent an e-mail to the principal asking what steps they could take to over come the objections, there was no response, in spite of the fact that the school already has other groups that could be considered political and controversial, like the Political Science Club and the Gay Straight Alliance.
Elizabeth Castro, a senior, stated that they were simply denied because they are pro-life. They simply want to educate their peers on the life issues and run a diaper drive to support parenting students.
Fortunately, the Thomas More Society has come to their defense and challenged the Parkland School District on the legal standings of the students under their First Amendment rights. In the past most school districts have changed their tunes when challenged legally. We will have to see if Parkland does the same.
Assistant Principal at Downingtown STEM Academy in Pennsylvania Resigned After His Treatment of Pro-Life Students Caught on Video
Two teenagers, Conner and Lauren Haines, were hosting a pro-life display on the public sidewalk outside STEM Academy as members of a Christian group called Project Frontlines.
When Dr. Zach Ruff, the assistant principal, saw their display, he yelled at the teens, swore at them, said he was calling the police, and told them to go to hell. During his rant he said he did not give a (expletive) what Jesus says and told them to shut up. Fortunately, the students took a video of the entire encounter, which became a big problem for Dr. Ruff.
The school administrators conducted an investigation and placed Dr. Ruff on leave without pay. Knowing that he was entirely in the wrong for screaming at these students and trying to intimidate them for exercising the First Amendment rights, he later resigned. Meanwhile, Alliance Defending Freedom Senior Counsel, Kevin Theriot, defended the students in a statement saying that no one should ever be berated for exercising their freedom of speech in a public place.
Professor at Fresno State University Recruited Class Members to Erase Pro-Life Group Sidewalk Messages
In April the Fresno State Students for Life had received permission to place life- affirming messages with chalk on the sidewalks leading to the university library. When the students were busy doing this on May 2, Professor Gregory Thatcher told them they were only allowed to do this in the free speech area of the college. Although Professor Thatcher was told by the club President, Bernadette Tasy, that the university had given them permission to do this, Professor Thatcher said he planned to return and erase their work.
Thatcher returned with several of his students, and they began erasing the messages, claiming that he was exercising his own free speech rights. Fortunately the entire encounter was caught on video.
Once again, Alliance Defending Freedom attorneys have come to the defense of these students and filed a lawsuit against Professor Thatcher for censoring the free speech of the Fresno Students for Life who were acting with permission from the University. It appears that Professor Thatcher has little to stand on in this regard.
Christian School Student Who Refused Abortion Is Punished by Administration
Maddi Runkles has attended Christian schools her entire life and is about to graduate from Heritage Academy in Hagerstown, Maryland; but she will not be allowed to participate in her graduation ceremony because of her pregnancy! Maddi is an exemplary student with a 4.0 average and was President of the Student Council, but she has been stripped of that position. The administration even wanted her to finish her senior year classes at home when they found out about the pregnancy.
Maddi said she at one point considered abortion because she was so afraid of what everyone would think of her; but with the support she received from her parents and her church, she bravely chose life for her baby boy, which she said was not an easy decision but the right one.
Maddi went public and confessed to the entire student body, asking forgiveness for breaking her pledge to remain celibate until marriage. But did the school administrators forgive her? No, they did not. They allowed her to continue her remaining classes at school, but she is still denied her graduation. Her father, Scott Runkles, resigned his position as President of the School Board because of this harsh treatment of his daughter.
Meanwhile, her story has made national headlines, and Students for Life are giving her their full support – raising funds for a college scholarship and baby gifts for her unborn child. One has to wonder why this school could not forgive this brave girl and celebrate her example for choosing life for her unborn child rather than death through abortion.