Catholic teens denied permission to establish Pro-Life Club at local high school

Elizabeth Castro, parishioner of St. Joseph the Worker, Orefield stands outside Parkland High School where she is hoping to establish the pro-life club “Trojans for Life,” named for the school’s mascot.

When Elizabeth Castro learned about her mother’s struggle between following medical advice to terminate a high-risk pregnancy and her desire to have another child – she set out to help ease the struggle of other women facing the same dilemma.

Castro and Grace Schairer, parishioners of St. Joseph the Worker, Orefield, decided to follow through with their aspiration to establish a Pro-Life Club at their school, Parkland High School (PHS) in the Allentown area.

After following the school’s necessary steps to form a club, Castro said, her petition to establish “Trojans for Life” in conjunction with the national organization “Students for Life of America” was denied.
In March, Castro, senior student at PHS, said a school administrator verbally informed her that the club was too “political” and “controversial.”

“I love being a Parkland student and I know they take pride in having a diverse curriculum and many different clubs. I thought they’d be more thrilled about this club because there isn’t anything like it on campus,” said Castro.

Disappointed but not discouraged, Castro emailed administrators in April, inquiring about a peaceful way to establish the club alongside school clubs like the Fashion Club, Gay Straight Alliance and Multi-Cultural Leadership Club.

“All the support from my friends and family really kept me moving forward and I knew I couldn’t give up,” she said.

Castro received no response and turned to Students for Life of America and the Thomas More Society, a not-for-profit, national public interest law firm dedicated to restoring respect in law for life, family and religious liberty.

In turn, the firm, which provides pro bono legal services from local trial courts all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court, wrote to the high school, stating that refusing the club violates the students’ rights protected by the First Amendment, the Federal Equal Access Act and Parkland’s own policies regarding student organizations.

According to The Morning Call, a lawsuit was filed in early July. 

Castro, who graduated in June  and Schairer, a rising senior, will continue to strive to see the club come to fruition.

“The goal of the club is to create a pro-life atmosphere and a safe haven for pregnant teens at my school. Some activities we would do would be to have a diaper drive for moms in a crisis pregnancy,” said Castro.

They also hope to teach members to share the beauty of life and educate others that abortion doesn’t have to be the only option.

“Life shouldn't be taken for granted,” said Castro.

Had her mother chosen abortion, Castro said, she would not have a younger brother in her life and may not have had developed a passion to establish the club.

“My mother fought and had surgery that ensured both her life and the life of her child. My mom is alive and well, and my brother is a freshman at Parkland,” she said.

“I’ve definitely learned that if you are passionate about something, you shouldn't let anything get in the way of achieving that goal.”