For the second year in a row, students at a high school in Long Island, New York, have been denied their request to form a Christian club.
As many as 20 students reportedly want to join a club called Students United in Faith, created by a pupil at Ward Melville High School, reports Fox News. But educators have put the brakes on their idea, reportedly because it is religious in nature.
“I wanted to start the club because I thought it would provide a safe place for Christians to meet and talk about their faith,” said 17-year-old John Raney. “I feel like they have something against me and my faith. I feel marginalized.”
Raney turned to the Liberty Institute, a religious liberty law firm, for help. Attorneys believed the teen had a good case against the school and threatened to take legal action.
“I cannot imagine why they would come back a second time to discriminate,” said attorney Hiram Sasser. “For some reason, Ward Melville High School does not want to follow the Equal Access law.”
Sasser argued that public schools are not allowed to discriminate against religious clubs and must treat them the way they would treat the chess or drama club.
John says this is most certainly not happening at his school, which he says allows 33 clubs – including a Gay-Straight Alliance – to exist, but makes him and his Christian friends feel as if there is something wrong with their faith.
But a representative from the school district told Fox News there was more to the story than what was being portrayed.
“The religious club called Students United in Faith was denied because contractual guidelines regarding minimal participation (20 students) in student co-curricular programs was not met, nor did Ward Melville High School have the financial means to fund this program,” said Superintendent Cheryl Pedisich in a statement. “The district does not have a practice of discrimination of any kind. We embrace our diverse school community and strive to maintain an environment that promotes tolerance, understanding and respect for all.”
The high school has since reversed its decision and will allow the club to go forward, reports CBS New York.
Photo Credit: threevillagecsd.org, Fox News / Courtesy Of John Raney