Can a School Ban All Student Clubs to Avoid Allowing a Gay-Straight Alliance?

Censorship Circle
Lake County school officials might try to ban all extra-curricular clubs

As I’ve noted in a couple recent LGBT Youth News Roundups (from February 18 and February 11), a school board in Lake County, Florida, is considering banning all extra-curricular student clubs in an effort to stop a student gay-straight alliance (GSA) from forming. Some readers may be wondering: Why would the school board ban all clubs? Would that legally make a difference? Can a school district legally ban a gay-straight alliance so long as it bans all other extra-curricular clubs too?

The answer to that last question is theoretically, in most circumstances, yes. But it’s an anti-gay strategy that usually falls apart anyway, as it should.

Plans for a Gay-Free Prom Are Backfiring in Indiana

“No one wants to be associated with this mess.”

IndianaPlans for a heterosexuals-only prom (noted briefly in this Monday’s LGBT Youth News Roundup) are backfiring in an Indiana community.

Several students at Indiana’s Sullivan High School—as well as some parents and a teacher at a nearby school—had proposed a gay-free prom (separate from the school’s official prom) when they learned that the high school would, despite their objections, allow students to bring same-sex dates to the school-sponsored dance this spring. As one student explained, “We want to make the public see that we love the homosexuals, but we don’t think it’s right nor should it be accepted.” Diana Medley, the teacher from a nearby school who has supported the anti-gay effort, had particularly harsh words for gay and lesbian youth: When asked if she thought gays and lesbians served a purpose in life, she responded, “I don’t. I personally don’t. I’m sorry.” (Watch her make the comment in the video below.)

The school district has sought to make clear that it has no involvement in the anti-gay efforts.

News of the proposed straights-only prom and the anti-gay comments from Ms. Medley provoked anger and criticism within the community and across the country, with several major news outlets covering the story. Many community members, including some of those connected to the effort, have now tried to distance themselves from it.  Dale Wise, a minister at the local church where the anti-gay prom group first met, has stated that “Our church has no involvement in this whatsoever.” A local NBC correspondent commented that “No one wants to be associated with this mess.”

Despite that assessment, a few local leaders, including the Reverend Gary Larimer of Sullivan Wesleyan Church and local pastor Bill Phegley, continue to support the separate, gay-free event. According to Rev. Larimer, homosexuality is “an abomination in the Bible, which tells you it’s wrong, blatantly wrong. Cities have been destroyed because of this type of lifestyle.”

To express your support for an LGBT-inclusive prom at Sullivan High School, you can visit (and “like”) this Faceboook page. There is also a Change.org petition calling for disciplinary action against Ms. Medley, the special education teacher who said gays have no purpose in life, though the superintendent has stated that she will not face discipline. [Update: Medley has now been suspended.] [Update: As the original NBC video is now unavailable, I’ve posted an alternative video with similar coverage below.]

MK

LGBT-Inclusive Book Back on School Library Shelves

Book cover of In Our Mother's HouseThe Davis School District in Utah has thankfully changed course, and will now allow students to access an LGBT-inclusive children’s book in the school library without a parental permission slip.

The change comes in response to a lawsuit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union, which alleged violations of students’ constitutional rights.

For an earlier post commenting on the case, click here.

For an update on the school’s new position, click here.

To see the book, “In Our Mothers’ House” by Patricia Polacco, on Amazon.com, click here.

MK

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Can Schools Require Permission Slips for Students to Read LGBT-Supportive Books?

Book in Chains

According to a suit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) late last year, school officials in a Utah district have violated students’ rights by restricting students’ access to the book “In Our Mothers’ House” in the district’s elementary school libraries. According to the school, leaving the book on the shelves would violate a state law against “advoca[ting] homosexuality” in school.

Who is right?