Sam came to us in the Fall of 2012 excited to start a pro-life group at her high school in Branford, CT. You see, Sam’s mother had her when she was 17 years old. And she has courageously decided that she wants to make sure that other young, pregnant high schoolers have the resources they need to chose life the way her mom did. After Sam contacted our team, we sent her our “Get Started!” Activism Kit for free, met with her and her mom when they came to our 2013 SFLA National Conference, and strategized with her to help Sam make a plan for starting the first pro-life group at Branford High School.
But a month later, we received a disturbing email from Sam. A parent had complained to the Branford Board of Education that Branford Students for Life “gets its directive from an extreme base of hate and intolerance” with “with tactics of killing doctors, assaulting women, blowing up clinics and is terroristic in nature and has a total disregard for law and woman at large.” She also claimed she feared for her daughter and other students’ safety at the school because of Sam’s group, concluding, “Don’t let hate groups infiltrate our educational system.”
All this for a group of high school students who just want to educate their peers about the evil of abortion and save babies from death by helping pregnant women in need!
But did this harassment and bullying from an adult deter Sam? No way! Right after we received her email about the controversy Sam was in the middle of at Branford, Brendan O’Morchoe, our National Field Director, and I made plans to travel to Connecticut to visit Sam and train her new Students for Life group.
In preparation for our visit, Sam started hanging flyers around her school advertising for the next Students for Life group meeting we were to attend. However, the flyers were vandalized within hours with messages like: “Requirements: White, Catholic, Ignorant,” “Be pro-life; kill a doctor,” and “The new terrorist organization.” (See the pictures of the vandalized flyers below!)
And her school administration did nothing to protect her rights! In fact, they have and continue to fight her every step of the way.
Sam’s school vice principal actually told her she needed to take flyers down because one had a picture of an unborn baby in the womb. A simple picture, that was not graphic and could have been in the students’ biology textbooks, was said to be “disturbing to the atmosphere” at the school.
But, it gets worse.
After Brendan and I’s visit to Branford High, Sam’s group set up a table at their school’s freshmen orientation club fair where they displayed their 12-week fetal models and showed fetal development pictures. Before the fair even started, the school principal told Sam to take down the display of fetal development pictures because they were “inappropriate,” though he declined to say how or why. Sam put the pictures back up when the club fair started, and the school’s vice principal soon came over in a rage, yelling at Sam and her pregnant mother to take the “inappropriate” pictures down. She then threw the poster board with the pictures and the fetal models on the ground and stormed off. What a great example of tolerance for the students!
Soon after the freshman orientation club fair, Sam was told, yet again, by her principal that she had to take down two more flyers –this time because they directed students to outside resources for information on pregnancy help centers and gestation, abortion, and adoption. The principle said it’s not the students’ job to provide these resources, but it’s the school based health center and Planned Parenthood’s!
Since she first stepped up to lead, Sam has faced constant pressure from her school administrators to censor her life-affirming materials and new group. Every step of the way. Yet, her pro-life group has carried on courageously forward: raising funds for the pro-life St. Gianna’s center in CT and stepping up their campaign to educate their peers about abortion, most of whom have never heard the pro-life message before and don’t know that there are free resources available if they are pregnant.
Sam is truly leading the way in changing the abortion culture at Branford High School.
Next month, Sam will be continuing her training with SFLA as one of our inaugural Thaddeus Stevens Leadership Fellows. Our new Fellowship is modeled off our highly successful William Wilberforce Leadership Fellowship for college students and will train the top high school pro-life students throughout the year, helping them to become the best leaders and activists in their schools and, ultimately, in the nation.
Student leaders such as Sam need your help! They are at war every day against the abortion industry, hostile administrations, and sometimes violent opposition. But where others might get discouraged, Sam continues to carry our pro-life message — and in places you and I might not be able to reach.
I want to be able to show Sam there is an army of pro-lifers ready to support her mission. For $25, or whatever amount you can, will you sponsor a student leader like Sam?
This July, Sam and several other Stevens Leadership Fellows will fly into DC for a weekend-long training program with our team to launch their year-long program. Only $25 will pay for one student’s meals for the weekend. $68 will cover the cost of a hotel room for a leader like Sam. $150 will cover half the cost of a round-trip plan ticket.
Courageous student leaders like Sam are the reason I know that abortion will be abolished in our lifetime. With your prayers and support, they will abolish their generation’s greatest social injustice, abortion.