Conservative Youth Group Denied, Criticizes Catholic School

The Virginia-based Young America’s Foundation has released a statement condemning the decision by La Reina High School, a Catholic school for girls, to reject student Isabella Foxen’s application to start a Young Americans for Freedom chapter, writes Adam Foxman at Ventura County Star.

School administrators claimed the club—aimed at organizing events including a celebration of Ronald Reagan’s birthday and “Freedom Week”—would be too “militant” and too “political” for La Reina’s campus, says a press release by the Young America’s Foundation.

The foundation goes on to point out that they believe the allowance of a Green party candidate to give a speech is inconsistent and suggested their organization was singled out because of its conservative ideology.

“The school’s “political” excuse is inconsistent and inaccurate. Young Americans for Freedom is not political, and YAF has historically had a presence at hundreds of Catholic colleges and high schools across the country.”

The Archdiocese of Los Angeles said that such a student group would be divisive rather than inclusive. He pointed out that all political student groups are forbidden on campuses under its jurisdiction, including La Reina.

“We’re not saying that politics has no place in the life of young people. We’re just saying there is a place for that activity, and it’s not on a school campus,” said Tod Tamberg, a spokesman for the archdiocese.

Tamberg said no political student clubs are allowed — liberal or conservative — because federal law forbids nonprofit, tax-exempt organizations like the archdiocese from political activity.

But Ron Meyer, the program officer, said it is not political because it is about ideas, not political parties.

“We’re advocating for people to think deeply on issues that affect our government,” he said.

Meyer said La Reina students have an environmental club and a pro-life group, and that such clubs generally deal with policy issues, just like his foundation. However, he said groups such as the environmental club are often left-leaning:

“They allow other groups to discuss policy and issues involving government, and that’s all we are,” Meyer said. “The blatant inconsistencies reveal that (the foundation) is being singled out because of our conservative ideals.”

But Tamberg said caring for the environment and respect for life are part of the Catholic Church’s teachings — separate from political ideology and parties. He said the foundation’s suggestion that the school’s environmental and human rights clubs have a liberal bent is “plain wrong”, writes Foxman.

“That reflects a complete misunderstanding of the Catholic Church’s teaching,” he said.

Tamberg cited what he called “inflammatory” language on the Young America’s Foundation website:

A page about starting a new chapter asks students if they are “tired of liberal and Marxist professors indoctrinating” classmates, and says groups including “fringe environmentalists, race-baiters, Islamo-fascists and run-of-the-mill leftists are distraught that you would even think about challenging them.”

The foundation vowed to take “appropriate action” until La Reina’s policy is reversed. For now, that means promoting the story in the media, Meyer said.

“Young America’s Foundation continues to call on La Reina administrators to reverse their decision. Paragraph 1732 in the Catholic Catechism states, “Human freedom is a force for growth and maturity in truth and goodness.”  Promoting freedom is consistent with Catholic principles and this school’s discriminatory policies must not be tolerated.”

“We’re hoping the school reverses course soon,” he said in an email.