Anti-Abortion Student Group Claims School is Censoring Them - NBC Connecticut

Anti-Abortion Student Group Claims School is Censoring Them



    A group of pr- life students in Branford are fighting back against their high school and say the administration is violating their First Amendment rights. (Published Tuesday, March 11, 2014)

    A group of students that wants to promote their anti-abortion message in Branford High School says the administration is violating its First Amendment rights by treating it differently than other school clubs.

    The students have organized the Branford High School Students for Life group and want to hold events during school hours.  The group's members claim the school has prevented them from holding in-school events, something other clubs are allowed to do.

    "If we're going to have these kinds of discussions. I'd rather have them in school in a place where young adults are coming every single day," Sam Bailey-Loomis, the founder of the group, said."It would have lifelike fetal models available for people to look at. We'd have information available again and we'd there be to answer questions."

    She said the group tried on three occasions to provide this information to the student body this semester, but Principal Lee Panagoulias insisted "time and time again that this is controversial speech," Bailey-Loomis said.

    While controversial, Bailey-Loomis feels it's her First Amendment right to hold the informational meetings and said her club is being treated differently than others.

    "Our goal is to inform women and the young men and women at our school," she said.

    NBC Connecticut emailed the principal and had not received a response as of Monday night, but Branford's Board of Education chairman said the board is looking into the matter and that there is no reason a club should be treated differently.

    "It's First Amendment rights," James McNamara, a senior at Branford High School, said. "You can pass stuff out in school if you want whether it be during class, after class or during lunch. Why not?"

    But not everyone thinks the school is the proper forum.

    "I think 13-year-olds have different feelings and thoughts and maturity level than 18 year olds," said Julie Amann, whose child is a senior at Branford High School.

    The National Organization Students for Life of America has asked pro-life activists to email the superintendent on this issue.

    Bailey-Loomis said this is an issue worth fighting for.

    "This isn't about being pro-life. This isn't about being pro-choice," she said.

    NBC Connecticut also tried to reach Branford superintendent Hamlet Hernandez, but he declined an interview.

    The Board of Education chair said the administration will make a statement in the next few days.

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