Debate over Christian club at Wantagh High School on Long Island

WANTAGH, N.Y. (WABC) -- A high school Christian group at Wantagh High School in Nassau County is claiming discrimination after they say the school denied their request to form a club.

The school says that's not so, and the request is still under review.

The backers say "Dare to Believe" represents their right to Freedom of Religion, and that right is being violated.

16-year-old Liz Loverde is teaching her own school district a lesson in the first amendment.

It began innocently enough when she decided to organize a Christian Club at Wantagh High School.

"I want to help kids, I see that my school is filled with bullies and depression and it's sad to just walk in it every day, and I found my answer through Christianity and so I just want to share that," said Loverde, a high school sophomore.

But Loverde says the school's principal instantly rejected the idea. The principal insisted that a religious-based club was unconstitutional.

Attorney Jeremy Dys says that's completely wrong.

Liz had the application and the proposal in her hands and the principal went like this and pushed it back and said, 'Oh this is about the Christian club, you can't have the Christian club on campus,'" said Dys, of the Liberty Institute.

"I felt terrible because Wantagh High School has over 30 clubs and they wouldn't recognize mine because it was faith-based," Loverde said.

According to the Equal Access Act of 1984 it's unconstitutional not to allow faith-based clubs.

"All students have a right to be able to meet on campus, and they can't be denied simply because of their faith," Dys said.

But the district now insists Loverde's club was never rejected.

"As it is required with all student clubs, proper protocol and procedures must be followed and implemented before the club can be formally recognized. The district is currently reviewing this request," a statement by the district said.

"I think my daughter's teaching everyone a lesson and waking everyone up that they have this right," said Pino Loverde, Liz's father.
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