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Virginia high school student’s application for pro-life club denied

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SPOTSYLVANIA, Va. -- A Spotsylvania County High School student submitted an application to her school principal to start a pro-life club, but her application was denied.

Madison Sutherland, who is a senior at Courtland High School, submitted her initial application in September. In a statement from Spotsylvania County Schools, the system said Sutherland failed to include a constitution and bylaws in her application, and -- if applicable -- a statement about how the club pertains to the regular school curriculum.

Sutherland resubmitted her application on Oct. 24, but it has been 16 days and she has not heard anything.

“I'm just sticking up for what I believe in,” Sutherland said.

She wants to use the club to inform students about abortion alternatives, and to attend the annual March for Life rally.

pro life shirt

According to school policy, the system must respond within 10 days.

Now, a lawyer from the advocacy group Students For Life of America, that are helping Sutherland, said the system is stalling. He sent a letter demanding approval of the club, by the school.

“I think my principal is taking a precautionary stance,” Sutherland said about the delay.

Spotsylvania’s statement said a decision will be made in the near future.

“It's discriminatory to not let me have the club,” Sutherland said.

It is important to note that because the application was submitted after June 1, even if the application is approved, it will not be allowed until the next school year.

Also, CBS 6 examined Chesterfield, Henrico and Richmond’s policies about creating clubs. None of them require the club to be tied to school curriculum.

Below is the full statement from Spotsylvania County’s Director of Communications, Rene Daniels.

Courtland High School has recently received an application for a Students For Life club. The application was initially denied because the application was incomplete. The initial application did not include the requisite Constitution and Bylaws or a statement of relation of the organization to the regular school curriculum, if applicable. The application was submitted for a second time on October 24, 2014 and the application is in the review process. The application will be considered in the same manner as other applications for student organizations.  A decision will be determined in the near future and the proposed club sponsor will be notified. It is important to note that per School Board Policy, and at the top of the application, any group seeking initial recognition as a student organization shall submit a written application prior to June 1 of the preceding school year with the principal.  Club applications that are received and approved between June 2, 2014 and June 1, 2015 would enable the club to be in place for 2015‐2016 school year.


  • Kchillz

    Well she didn’t follow the guidelines to create a club. Every club new or old has to follow the rules set forth by the school. This young lady needs to follow the rules like everyone else has, regardless of the idea or club.

    • AwYiss

      I agree with you wholeheartedly. If she can’t simply claim discrimination just because they denied her application. It was denied because of her failure to follow the rules

  • 1Ronald

    If you think she can’t follow rules now (hey, they’re for the other people) wait until next year when she starts college. Will be quite a roller coaster ride. And is away from her parents. And is on her own. What religion?

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