Young America’s Foundation, the parent organization of Young Americans for Freedom (YAF)–together with counsel from Alliance Defending Freedom–have put Harrison High School in Harrison, New York on notice for failure to recognize a Young Americans for Freedom chapter. YAF has made it clear that the school’s refusal to allow the YAF chapter is a violation of the First Amendment as well as the federal Equal Access Act, and YAF may pursue legal action should Harrison persist in its unlawful conduct.
Administrators at Harrison High School have repeatedly denied Luke Wong, an eager conservative activist, from starting a YAF chapter. On three separate occasions Assistant Principal Laurie Griffo has denied Mr. Wong’s request, each time citing a different, arbitrary reason. One explanation stated, “[w]e typically do not create clubs for organizations that students are involved with or could be involved with outside of school.” This statement is patently false. Harrison recognizes 33 other clubs including Friends of Rachel, the Gay Straight Alliance, Relay for Life, and Youth to Youth. Some of these clubs clearly have affiliation with national organizations that students “could be involved with outside of school.” Treating those clubs favorably, while denying YAF club status, is clearly inequitable. Administrators even went so far as to suggest that Mr. Wong join the Model Congress Club, despite the fact that YAF’s mission of promoting the eternal principles of the American founding is unique and entirely distinct.
Harrison’s failure to recognize YAF is illegal under the First Amendment and Equal Access Act, both of which guarantee YAF’s right to be free from viewpoint discrimination and to receive equal footing with other student organizations at the school.
The school must adopt policies that ensure no discrimination of prospective student organizations based on religious, political, or philosophical beliefs by June 16, 2020, or YAF may pursue legal action.
“The Harrison YAF chapter deserves the same equal access to school resources as every other student organization on campus,” said YAF spokesman Spencer Brown. “It is completely inappropriate for school officials to treat students differently because of their beliefs, and we are hopeful the school board will update their policies such that we don’t need to resort to a lawsuit.”
For further information or to cover this story contact Spencer Brown via phone (800-872-1776) or email ([email protected]).