I have followed with some interest the discussions of the Yosemite Unified School District regarding access to their schools by the Fellowship of Christian Athletes (an organization I respect and appreciate).
My interest in the topic is personal as I am both a pastor of a local church and a part time employee of the school district as a soccer coach.
This is a difficult topic and a very emotional one. The Equal Access Act is a federal law granting recognized student clubs in public secondary schools equal access to school facilities, regardless of their religious or political views. The law is specifically designed to set guidelines for student-led clubs that meet during the school day. The sticky point in the law is where it states, “non-school persons may not direct, conduct, control or regularly attend activities of [recognized] student groups.”
Thus, one of the difficult questions that arises from the law is what does “regularly” mean. In other words, how often can an off-campus leader attend a student club like FCA without becoming a “regular” participant?
We can get excited about this issue and it is probably good that we do so. Perhaps the only thing we all can agree with is that whatever the district decides it will upset someone. This is unfortunate, yet it is the reality of the situation. I do not have any great solutions to the dilemma, but I do have one thing I would like to add.
I would like to thank the Yosemite Unified School District and its board of trustees for working so diligently on this issue. Here is why I want to thank the board.
They have worked very hard in trying to determine how many times non-school personnel may come on campus before it would be considered “regular” attendance. The answer to ‘at what point does a person become a “regular” attendee’ would be answered differently by most everyone. It is hard to come to some consensus.
As a pastor I might want a higher number than my neighbor would like. I am grateful that the trustees did not just run from the issue and say no more meetings for the Fellowship of Christian Athletes. I am grateful that they have seemingly worked hard to protect the Christian club, as well as protect the rights of those who might not appreciate such a club.
This is not an easy issue and I am sure the district’s new policy is not perfect. But I am confident that the staff and the board of Yosemite Unified School District worked hard to make sure that all their students are treated fairly.
We should be grateful for such dedication, and for those of us who follow Christ, we should be praying for our young people and those who teach, instruct and led them.
NOTE: The next YUSD school board meeting is at 6:30 p.m, Monday April 11, at Rivergold Elementary School in Coarsegold.