And the school administration bully strikes again…
If you have been following our Students for Life High School Initiative, Branford High School in Branford, CT is a school you have been hearing a lot about. Sam Bailey-Loomis, the President and founder of Branford High School Students for Life, has been one of our top high school leaders this past year, participating in our first ever Thaddeus Stevens Fellowship and leading her group to win the 2014 Students for Life High School Group of the Year award.
Sadly though, it is no surprise that her life-saving success has been met with resistance from her administration. Since February of last year, Sam’s principal, Lee Panagoulias, and other administration members have attempted to censor and limit the effectiveness of the Students for Life club at their public school, telling them they could not have life-like fetal models on their education table and making it difficult for them to form and sustain the club. In the past few weeks, Mr. Panagoulias denied Sam and her club the ability to invite others to join the group in the form of clip boarding and handing out literature to students during lunch. The school has also told Branford High School Students for Life that they can only host events after school, a restriction not imposed on other student groups.
When planning the spring semester, Sam met with her principal to ask permission to host events and inform others about her club, going out of her way to be above reproach and adhere to the school’s policies. She came prepared with the Branford High School Student Handbook and made it clear that their proposed events were well within the student guidelines and were similar to those that other students clubs had been approved to do. The principal then told Sam he would “think about it” – a common delay tactic used by school officials across the United States. Over the next week, the principal postponed meetings, leaving Sam in a state of limbo. After multiple attempts, Sam finally got her answer. The club could not hand out pro-life literature, clipboard, or set up an information table in the commons area during lunch.
Last week, Alliance Defending Freedom sent a letter to Branford High School and Branford Public Schools on behalf of Branford High School Students for Life requesting that they end their discriminatory behavior against the group. The letter asked for written confirmation by March 12th notifying Sam that her club’s rights will be respected.
Kristan Hawkins, President of Students for Life of America commented, “We cannot sit back while our pro-life students are denied their constitutional rights and bullied by their school administrators. At Branford High School, their is double standard for pro-life students, and we intend to expose this injustice and correct it. We commend Sam and the members of Branford High School Students for Life for their courage and willingness to step up and demand that their school respect their rights, and I am looking forward to witnessing another pro-life student victory.”
Sam Bailey-Loomis, President and Founder of Branford High School Students for Life remarked, “I hope that the Branford Public School system will respect the students at Branford High School by not acting as a barrier to the student body’s equal access to essential information regarding life. I am proud to be on the front lines alongside abortion abolitionists in high schools and colleges across the country to safeguard our rights, stand up for the preborn, and make a lasting impact on our campuses.”
Students for Life of America is asking all pro-life activists to contact the Superintendent of Branford Public Schools, Mr. Hamlet Hernandez by email at [email protected], or phone at (203) 488-7276, to express their support for Branford High School Students for Life and ask that Branford Public Schools resolve this situation immediately by assuring Sam and Branford High School Students for Life that their constitutional rights will be respected.
To request interviews with Students for Life of America or Sam about this situation, please contact Kristan Hawkins at [email protected] or 240-678-9620.