DCPS ruling blocks Christian athlete group chapter at Jackson-Reed


Eli Schwartz

Photo Courtesy of Eli Schwartz

DCPS ruled on Tuesday that Jackson-Reed is barred from establishing a chapter of the national Fellowship of Christian Athletes (FCA), saying that the organization’s “sexual purity” statement violates DC laws and policies on human rights and antidiscrimination. 

The DCPS Comprehensive Alternative Resolution and Equity Team (CARE) found that while only student and adult leaders associated with an FCA school chapter are asked to voluntarily sign the statement, language within the statement prohibiting homosexuality constitutes a violation of policy.

“By November 28, 2022, the Jackson-Reed HS will disassociate from the national Fellowship of Christian Athletes (FCA) organization,” the decision said. “Jackson-Reed FCA may create a new organization independent of the FCA if they choose. The Jackson-Reed HS website will be updated to reflect the changes.”

The decision resolves a grievance filed against the FCA by Paul Legere, a former Jackson-Reed parent and current freshman baseball coach. Legere asserted that Jackson-Reed is “allowing and supporting an organization that is actively against the LGBTQ+ community.”

As part of the investigation, DCPS said it interviewed Legere, Jackson-Reed math teacher and FCA sponsor Grant Franke, and an FCA vice president. The decision also said it reviewed the Jackson-Reed FCA Instagram page, the FCA club page from the Jackson-Reed website, and the FCA’s Student Leadership Application, which contains the sexual purity statement. 

The CARE decision noted that Franke told investigators that FCA is open to everyone and that neither Franke nor any Jackson-Reed students were asked to sign a statement. It added that the FCA vice president said that while the FCA is open to anyone, leaders are held to a “higher standard” and asked to sign the sexual purity statement as a part of the leadership process.

The ruling cites The District of Columbia Human Rights Law of 1977 which, in part, prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex and sexual orientation. 

According to the law, “it is an unlawful discriminatory practice…for an educational institution…to deny, restrict, or to abridge or condition the use of, or access to, any of its facilities, services, programs, or benefits of any program or activity to any person otherwise qualified, wholly or partially, for a discriminatory reason, based upon…sexual orientation.”

The ruling also cites the DCPS Notice of Non-Discrimination, which states that “DCPS does not discriminate or tolerate discrimination against…students on the basis of…sexual orientation.” 

The local and national chapters of the FCA did not comment. Franke declined to comment. Principal Sah Brown was unable to be reached for comment. 

Legere, in an interview with The Beacon, said that he hopes the ruling raises awareness about the FCA. “[I’m] not sure if this ruling will withstand a challenge by the FCA, but at least it will ensure that kids/families involved at Jackson-Reed are fully aware of what they are taking part in,” he said. 

In August, a federal appeals court ruled to allow an FCA chapter at Pioneer High School in San Jose, California. The national chapter of FCA had sued the San Jose school district and several school officials after its chapter was removed due to concerns about their Student Leadership Application.

FCA has an established chapter at DCPS’s Eastern High School. The CARE decision only addresses Jackson-Reed. It is unclear whether DCPS has investigated Eastern’s FCA chapter or whether the Jackson-Reed decision might apply district-wide.

This story is ongoing and will continue to be updated.