Previously Censored Student Pro-Life Group Holds First Meeting of 2020

(Photo by Stanley Morales from Pexels)

Students participating in a pro-life club held their first official event of 2020 on Monday afternoon, after their high school initially refused to recognize it as an official club because it was deemed too "controversial."

In November, Alliance Defending Freedom sent a letter on behalf of a student to officials with Collier County Public Schools and Gulf Coast High School over the school's decision. The letter explained that the refusal to recognize Sharks 4 Life, which would be an independent student group affiliated with the national Students for Life organization, was clearly unconstitutional and violated the federal Equal Access Act. The school has since relented, certified the club's faculty adviser, and acknowledged the club's official status.

"The First Amendment protects every student's freedom of speech and expression," said ADF Legal Counsel Michael Ross. "Public school officials also can't play favorites when approving student organizations or 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. We're grateful that Gulf Coast High School acknowledged our client's constitutionally protected rights, has chosen to recognize Sharks 4 Life as an official club, and affirms that students have the right to express their beliefs about the immense value of every human life."

ADF attorneys represent student Gabrielle Gabbard, who applied in early August for recognition of Sharks 4 Life. After Gabbard and one of her faculty advisors met with Assistant Principal Catherine Crawford-Brown to discuss the matter, Crawford-Brown reaffirmed her refusal to recognize the club and then threatened one of the advisors with termination if she continued to try to be a faculty advisor for Sharks 4 Life. Crawford-Brown made these remarks even though she knew that the club needed a faculty advisor to be approved. Because of these remarks, both of the faculty advisors promptly withdrew as faculty advisors for the club.

In response to ADF's letter, school officials agreed to recognize Sharks 4 Life and help them secure an advisor. However, school officials warned that the school had to approve any information that Sharks 4 Life wants to distribute, and that there may be certain things Sharks 4 Life would not be allowed to distribute. ADF responded with a follow-up letter to the principal on Dec. 3, emphasizing that the school—under the First Amendment and under federal law—could not legally treat Sharks 4 Life differently than other groups. ADF's second letter also warned that the school's preapproval requirement also unconstitutionally censored students' speech.

"Courageous student leaders across the country face real opposition from their schools because they choose to speak for the defenseless and want to peacefully educate their fellow students about abortion," said Students for Life of America President Kristan Hawkins. "The Constitution and federal law are both clear that public schools can't discriminate against pro-life groups. Thankfully, Gulf Coast High School has finally agreed to do the right thing and respect the rights of its students."

Students for Life of America is a national pro-life organization dedicated to training and equipping students to lead local pro-life student groups like Sharks 4 Life at secondary schools and universities. They have more than 1,200 groups across the country, including 28 groups in Florida.


To contact us or to submit an article, click here.


Get Charisma's best content delivered right to your inbox! Never miss a big news story again. Click here to subscribe to the Charisma News newsletter.

Five ways to deepen your relationship with God, increase your faith and save money!

  • Deepen Your Relationship with God with a FREE eCourse: Click Here to view all of our free e-Courses. Favorite topics include Fear, Forgiveness, Holy Spirit, Supernatural, and How to Hear God.
  • Super Discounts and Close-Out Specials: Click Here to view all our bundles and close-out specials and save up to 86%! Prayer, Holy Spirit, Anointing, the Supernatural and more.
  • God Wants to Anoint Women Now: Rise up and enter the anointing of Deborah, Anna, Esther, Ruth and Hannah. You were called to go higher. Click Here to learn more.
  • Change Your Atmosphere and Circumstances Through Prayer! John Eckhardt's prayer bundle gives you six powerful books to help you pray and change any situation. Click Here.
  • HUGE Bible Sale!: Click Here to save up to 50% off a great selection of Bibles. Plus, get a free gift with each order!

Subscription Special: Subscribe to Charisma for Only $24.97 and get a free gift. With your subscription, you'll receive Born For Significance by best-selling author Bill Johnson. View Offer

Attention Pastors and Leaders: Leadership training and development are crucial for success. Enroll in a FREE 1-hour leadership mini-course by Dr. Mark Rutland. View Details

Charisma News - Informing believers with news from a Spirit-filled perspective