Last year, Angelique Clark approached the administrators at her public school, West Career and Technical Academy in Las Vegas, with an application to begin a Pro-Life group on her campus. Clark represented twenty-five Pro-Life students who had already signed up to participate in the club when she brought the application to administrators. But staff arbitrarily determined that a Pro-Life group would be “too controversial” – even though other groups representing contentious topics were approved and active at West.
After being denied her right to stand for Life on campus, Clark brought her case to the Thomas More Society. The Society sent a demand letter to the school informing staff that they were violating the Equal Access Act of 1984, which was created to ensure that students like Clark maintain the right to speak freely and publicly about any issue, regardless of how “controversial” the issue is.
However, the school remained inactive on Clark’s case, persisting in their refusal to approve the Pro-Life club. Thus, the Thomas More Society resorted to filing a lawsuit against the school. West Career and Technical Academy finally relented and recognized the students’ constitutional right to start a Pro-Life club on campus. The Thomas More Society was awarded $30,000 in legal fees by the school district, and called the settlement a victory for the Pro-Life club and “all students who wish to speak out or form clubs to address the issues they’re facing.”
Sadly, we know that discrimination against Pro-Life students is common. However, such discrimination is never legal on a public high school or college campus. Groups like the Thomas More Society and Alliance Defending Freedom offer pro bono support to students facing discrimination for their Pro-Life views on campus.
Many students on high school and college campuses identify as Pro-Life, and the establishment of Pro-Life clubs on these campuses helps to legitimize their views and galvanize them to pursue a lifetime of dedication to the most marginalized in society. If you are interested in learning more about the role of Pro-Life students on campuses across the state of Texas, visit Texas Right to Life’s Student Central page, and consider applying for the Dr. Joseph Graham Fellowship for College Pro-Life Leaders. But you don’t have to wait until college to get involved; Texas Right to Life created the REveAL Summer Camp just for high school students. Learn more about our high school, college, and graduate groups and events here.