Planned Parenthood supporter wins Catholic school battle

Planned Parenthood supporter wins Catholic school battle

Last week Kate Murray, a student at Sacred Heart Greenwich Girls’ school in Connecticut, was given an ultimatum: ‘Remove a Planned Parenthood sticker from your laptop computer or be expelled.’ 

But, according to this report, the school quickly backed down after students and parents expressed outrage. Many sent letters to the administration to express their their anger and more than 2,900 people signed an online petition supporting Murray. The petition stated:

Unless Kate is allowed her freedom of speech, all of my future donations that would have been allocated to Sacred Heart Greenwich will now and forever be donated to Planned Parenthood.

This sent the school into a blind panic, and it quickly backed down. Kate’s mother Tracy said this week:

The school has reversed their earlier decision and is allowing Kate to leave the sticker on her laptop. Kate has chosen to continue to display the sticker and is happy to remain a part of such a special community.

We are moved by the outpouring of support by the alumnae and the community at large and are heartened by its encouragement of one young woman’s voice.

Murray was told by administrators of the school that the Planned Parenthood sticker on her laptop would not be tolerated. She was given the choice of leaving the school immediately or leaving at the end of the academic year if she kept the sticker on.

In an Op-Ed, Head of School Pamela Hayes, above, suggested that expelling Kate was now out of the question.

We would never dismiss a student for what she believes or a cause she supports and will not now.

Sacred Heart discourages students from displaying political stickers, banners and buttons on campus and sometimes instructs students to take them down, Hayes wrote.

Some have misinterpreted our position as opposition to a specific organization or an attempt to shut down independent thinking on our campus. We believe that despite the powerful role these communications tools may play in the public square, their presence in a private educational environment can stifle learning and limit honest debate …

While, of course, not all messages on stickers are controversial or offensive, political, provocative or promotional displays can have unintended consequences in an academic setting.

The Roman Catholic Church opposes abortion and artificial contraception. Planned Parenthood counts these among its health services, which include cancer screenings, pregnancy care and other women’s health measures.

Bishop Frank Caggiano of the Diocese of Bridgeport consulted with Hayes on her decision to ask Kate to remove the sticker. The diocese said in a statement last week:

The Catholic Church’s opposition to abortion is almost universally understood, as is its consistent pro-life ethic, which defends the right to life of all those among us, particularly the most vulnerable in our society,

As such the diocese fully supports the commitment of Head of School Pamela Hayes to affirm the Church’s teaching, while also recognizing and respecting the right of students to question and challenge as they grow in the learning process.

Nicole Narea, a Sacred Heart Greenwich alumna and legal and political journalist at Law360, said while she respects her alma mater’s legal right to limit student expression, she does not appreciate when that right is applied arbitrarily.

She wrote in an email last Friday:

Pamela Juan Hayes touts school policy of being apolitical outside of the classroom. Not only does that policy sound wildly unrealistic in 2018, but it has also been selectively enforced. There was a pro-life student club during my time there, and they went down to Washington, DC for yearly rallies.

Fellow students had Obama campaign stickers on their laptops, but they were not ordered to remove them.

Alumna Kyra Baldwin, who graduated in 2013, said the school’s pro-life club sometimes gave presentations at the school’s morning meeting that included images of foetuses. She was disappointed when she and some classmates were blocked from starting a Gay Straight Alliance club at the school because the Diocese opposed it, she said.

We felt the existence of a pro-life club while there was no pro-choice club or GSA allowed was extremely hypocritical, especially when the pro-life club was so active.

Sacred Heart Greenwich parents have shared many opinions over the school’s handling of the sticker situation.

Said Lesley King:

I support Planned Parenthood and the the amazing and necessary women’s health services they provide. And in addition I support a young woman’s right to have a strong opinion about any issue and express that with bumper stickers or slogans on clothing.

One mother, who requested anonymity so her daughter would not be retaliated against, said she plans to pull her daughter out of the school at the end of the year.

I don’t want her there. We marched in the Women’s March. We donate to Planned Parenthood. She is in the school because we want her to be able to speak up.

But another mother, who also is an alumna, and who requested anonymity to protect her daughter, said she thought Kate Murray should have just taken off the sticker right away.

It is a Catholic school so these are the values that they feel they want to embrace, I think this is sad that this is happening.

However, she noted that her daughter and other students support Kate and want her to be able to keep the sticker.

17 responses to “Planned Parenthood supporter wins Catholic school battle”

  1. AgentCormac says:

    ‘…while also recognizing and respecting the right of students to question and challenge as they grow…’


  2. L.Long says:

    “We would never dismiss a student for what she believes or a cause she supports and will not now.”
    Translation …. we will never hurt ourselves so as to destroy our money base, so we are backing down. Until we can find another reason to get rid of the hussy!

  3. peterat says:

    I guess that’s what you get when you politicize women’s rights!

  4. CoastalMaineBird says:

    She was given the choice of leaving the school immediately or leaving at the end of the academic year

    An odd choice.
    “We’ll expel you now, or expel you later – your choice”

  5. Broga says:

    A student acts responsibly and is identified as someone who thinks and takes action. That is dangerous to the Roman Catholic hierarchy.

  6. Adrian says:

    So, a necessary medical facility is now a political football?

    No it isn’t. It is the target of bigoted religiots who prefer dogma over women’s health. Whether the bigots are from church or the American political system it all boils down to “We must suppress women because our holy book tells us to”.

  7. John the Drunkard says:

    ‘Kate has chosen to continue to display the sticker and is happy to remain a part of such a special community.’

    Will Kate be wearing a yellow star to the Nuremberg rally too?

  8. Stuart H. says:

    If planning for parenthood is against Catholic values, it follows that their Imaginary Friend’s impregnation of the Virgin Mary was an unplanned pregnancy.
    Hmm, that raises some interesting questions about the morality of the Imaginary Omnipotent One, doesn’t it?

  9. AgentCormac says:

    @Stuart H
    From any moral or practical perspective, Mary was raped. And while many, including myself and no doubt you too, would claim that the whole ‘virgin birth’ story is one of the most ludicrous and blatantly implausible works of fiction ever conceived (pardon the pun), it certainly seems to have set a precedent regarding sexual abuse which members of the RCC have felt free to emulate with unbridled enthusiasm and consistency throughout the centuries.

  10. 1859 says:

    Planned or not, the conception of Mary was ‘immaculate’ – translation – at no time was dirty sex involved.

    I prefer the more down-to-earth definition of love given by a punk band from the 80’s – ‘Love is ten minutes of squelching noises’.

  11. barriejohn says:

    @1859: Send me to Pedantry Corner if you wish, but the Immaculate Conception refers rather to Mary’s own birth, not the conception of the Little Baby Jesus. Catholics believe that she was “miraculously” cleansed from sin in the womb, to make her a fit vessel to bear the freak. Needless to say, there is never a whisper of this anywhere in the Bible, though you’d think that people would have said, “That Mary’s a right little Goody-Two-Shoes, isn’t she?”.

  12. 1859 says:

    But…but…barriejohn, if it ain’t in the bibble, then how do you know this? There just ain’t no other source, or….?

  13. barriejohn says:

    @1859: I can answer your amusing question with a serious answer! To Catholics, TRADITION is on a par with “Divine Revelation”.

    Let us regard the tradition of the Church also as worthy of belief. Is it a tradition? Seek no further! (St. John Chrysostom)

    They were “making it up as they went along” long before that phrase was invented!!

  14. Broga says:

    barriejohn: That Virgin Mary effigy is laughable. How can anyone regard it with reverence?

  15. barriejohn says:

    Broga: I think it’s meant to be weeping, too! Is religion a manifestation of mental illness?

  16. AgentCormac says:

    @ barriejohn
    I can never make my mine up whether religion is, as you suggest, a manifestation of mental illness, or one of the most elaborate, cynical and meticulously planned con tricks ever.

  17. Rick George says:

    ” Will Kate be wearing a yellow star to the Nuremberg rally”
    Well given that that event occurred before she, or even perhaps her parents were even born, I would think not.