WHAT’S BEING CLAIMED:
- A New York High school student has been denied of her request to start a Christian club at her school, because such groups are not welcomed by the school.
- According to 14-year-old Daniela Barca who lodged her application to the assistant principal after being denied by the principal, she was told that the club should be more nonspecific in nature and not only for Christians.
- But the school’s rejection of Barca’s request violates the Equal Access Act which states that religious clubs should be given equal rights and access as other non-curricular clubs.
A high school in New York is rejecting an application from a freshman student to form a student organization due to its religious nature.
Since last summer, Ketcham High School student Daniela Barca, 14, has repeatedly requested to form a Christian club at her school to provide a safe space for fellow Christians to meet and support each other in their beliefs.
“Sometimes I feel like I’m the only Christian at my school and I thought others might feel the same way. I hope the superintendent lets me start the club and does whatever it takes to make sure religious clubs are treated like all the other clubs,” said Barca in a statement.
But when she gave the required application after school started, Barca said the principal said no telling her that a religious club just like other secular clubs is not supported and welcomed by the school.
Barca with the help of her father then appealed to the assistant principal, who advised them that if the club will not limit its viewpoint only to the Christian Faith, but modify it to something more “generic”, then the group could not be accepted in the school system.
The school’s repeated rejection of Barca’s request constitutes a “purposeful violation of the Equal Access Act of 1984,” according to a letter sent to the school on Wednesday from Keisha Russell, a lawyer representing Barca, who is from the religious freedom law firm First Liberty Institute.
“As the U.S. Supreme Court explained, religious clubs must be afforded the same recognition, access and rights as other non-curricular clubs,” states First Liberty’s letter to school superintendent Jose Carrion.
Yet despite Barca’s petition that the school was violating her right to Equal Access, all throughout the process, the officials continued to ignore the law and deny her request.
Russell also said that the school officials have for several months engaged in “purposeful, intentional religious discrimination” against Daniela. “We hope this school district ends its clearly unlawful behavior and protects the religious liberty of every student in all its schools,” she said.
On Wednesday night, Superintendent Jose Carrion told Fox News that “the district recognizes the rights of student-initiated, non-curricular groups to organize and meet in accordance with the Equal Access Act.” He further added that the issue is expected to be resolved in accordance with the Equal Access Act.
Source: Fox News