The full 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals will review a decision to require the San Jose, Calif., school district to recognize the Fellowship of Christian Athletes (FCA). The district objects to the organization/s policy that does not allow LGBTQ students to serve as leaders.
The district said it grants such status only to organizations whose membership is open to all students. The FCA group still was allowed to meet on campus but no longer could deposit funds in a school bank account or be listed in school yearbooks, a status granted only to officially recognized student organizations.
Daniel Blomberg, vice president and senior counsel for Becket, a non-profit religious rights law firm, said he was “confident the courts will continue to protect FCA’s ability to choose leaders who are committed to its religious mission and its right to exist on campus just like every other student club.”
According to Becket, in 2019, district officials took away the FCA’s official high school group status and forced the student group off campus after a Pioneer High School teacher attacked the group’s Christian beliefs in his classroom. When students tried to get the FCA club reestablished on campus the next semester, their request was denied, while at the same time, the school recognized a satanic temple club formed for the purpose of protesting the FCA.
After discussions with the district failed, the FCA and two of its student leaders asked a federal court to order the district to allow it equal access to meet on campus, just like other student clubs. As the organization explained, its request is eminently reasonable. All it asks is that those students who lead its ministry — directing Bible studies, leading worship and determining the direction of the club’s ministry — agree with the club’s mission and ministry.
Last August, a panel of the 9thg Circuit Court of Appeals agreed, ruling that FCA students must be treated fairly and equally and that the district could not discriminate against their religious leadership standards under the First Amendment and the Equal Access Act.
-Dwight Widaman | MV