- The Washington Times - Wednesday, November 13, 2019

A Florida high school student is fighting back against school officials who shut down her pro-life club because they deemed it too “controversial” and too “political,” the student claimed.

Gabrielle Gabbard, a senior at Gulf Coast High School, lawyered up and took school officials to task for allowing pro-LGBTQ groups and religious aligned organizations but not her Sharks 4 Life.

In a letter to the school district, Ms. Gabbard’s lawyers warned the decision runs afoul of the Constitution, including violating First Amendment protections by discriminating against the student because of her pro-life viewpoint.

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Gulf Coast High School has nearly 80 clubs but drew the line earlier this year when it came to Ms. Gabbard’s attempt to launch Sharks 4 Life, which is affiliated with Students for Life, a national organization that boasts more than 1,200 groups nationwide.

There are more than two dozen of these clubs at other schools in Florida.

“These student clubs are an essential part of a student’s education because participating in and leading clubs allows students to develop their own special interests and to develop and express their religious and political views,” said Michael Ross, a lawyer with Alliance Defending Freedom, which is representing Ms. Gabbard.

In the letter, the student accuses the high school’s assistant principal of threatening two faculty members who said they could serve as advisers for her club, suggesting they might lose their jobs. Having a faculty sponsor is a requirement for an on-campus group.

An official from the school district, meanwhile, told a local television affiliate, WINK-TV, last week the club is supported by the high school and Collier County School District.

In a separate email to The Washington Times Thursday, Chad Oliver, a spokesperson from Collier County Public Schools, pushed back against the allegation Sharks 4 Life was ever denied the ability to be launched as a club.

“The Sharks 4 Life will open. A faculty sponsor has been found consistent with the principal’s efforts to work with students and parents to do so,” he said.

Mr. Oliver also said the assistant principal’s words and actions have been mischaracterized by the student’s attorneys.

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