COUNTERPOINT: I know it’s the law, but Young Life still shouldn’t be at RB

COUNTERPOINT:  I know it's the law, but Young Life still shouldn't be at RB

Lauren Kreiss

RB students attend a Young Life meeting. While the club is immensely popular, does it fit with RB’s values?

Kelly Kramer, A&E Manager

READ CAMERON KRITIKOS’ COUNTER OPINION ON YOUNG LIFE.

I’d like to begin by saying that I have no problem with Young Life, and I do not believe the club is at fault for anything stated in this story. I just find it interesting that a religious club is allowed to be so promoted within a public school, and I felt the issue should be explored.

When I first started this story, my feelings towards Young Life were not exactly positive. I felt confused that a group that is widely advertised as a Christian and accepting group could have views that were so discriminatory. Along with that confusion, I felt as though such a group doesn’t exactly have a place in a public school. After much research and many interviews, I found that, while my opinions haven’t really changed, Young Life is, in fact protected by law that allows it to operate in public schools.

According to the Equal Access Act of 1984, religious student organizations must receive equal treatment and use of facilities as any other student organization. This act protects any student driven religious group, so long as non-student leaders of the group do not attend or direct meetings held on school property.

Regardless of the law, my biggest problem with Young Life is that in their mission statement states: “We do not in any way wish to exclude persons who… practice a homosexual lifestyle from being recipients of God’s grace and mercy… We do, however, believe that such persons are not to serve as staff or volunteers in the mission and work of Young Life.”

As a non-RB activity operating outside of a public school setting, that is their way of life and opinion to not want homosexuals to serve as staff.  At the same time, it feels like they should be separated from a public school.

However, in discussion with Assistant Principal John Passarella, he said, “You have to be careful when denying a group their civil rights.”

So, as it turns out, even though there is some level of discrimination within Young Life, it’s still a club that is granted equal access to all of RB’s facilities, given that the space isn’t already in use for a club that is directly related to RB.

Even though the Equal Access Law states that they should have equal representation, I just don’t think it’s right.

RB is supposed to be a school of acceptance. Groups funded by the school include the Association of Students for Tolerance and the Gay Straight Alliance, which are clearly groups that aim to treat everyone equally regardless of differences. Young Life is clearly not a club that supports those same values, at least if you read their mission statement. I’m not saying that Young Life shouldn’t exist or shouldn’t be able to use the school’s facilities (provided they pay for it), but I’m saying it shouldn’t be promoted as much as it is. I understand the good points of the club: the students involved love it, they have a place to go to have fun with their friends, they do service projects, and they also have the Christian aspect of it, if that is the religion they wish to practice.  

But the fact that this club’s statement is based on discrimination proves to me that there is really no place for it in a public school. I feel as though the Equal Access Act should only go so far. If it was up to me, I’d change the act. And I wouldn’t just change it to exclude Young Life. I don’t think that if a Jewish group wanted to make multiple announcements per week that should be allowed either. This act also would protect a Neo-Nazi group assembling and conducting meetings at RB. I just think if church and state are to be separate, they should really be separate.

Again, my point is not to condemn Young Life. I think it’s great for the people involved. And even though there are laws and acts that protect the rights of a religious club, it seems as though Young Life is growing so fast and taking over life at RB. I feel like the club may be going down a path that will become so prominent within public schools that something may have to be done in the future.