Victory for Florida Students in Lake County Gay-Straight Alliance Case

Lake County on Map in Blue

A federal appellate court delivered a big win to Florida students in a long-running legal dispute over a middle school gay-straight alliance.

The court’s unanimous decision, authored by a famously conservative judge, holds that a federal law known as the Equal Access Act applies to (and therefore protects the rights of) students attending Carver Middle School in Lake County. The student plaintiffs had relied on the Act’s non-discrimination protections in a lawsuit over the Lake County School Board’s refusal to allow the middle-school GSA. The school board responded to the suit by arguing, among other things, that the Equal Access Act only applies to high schools and therefore provides no protection to the district’s middle school students; today’s decision rejects that position.
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Does MA’s Bullying Law Require Schools to Recognize “Categories of Students, Including LGBTQ Students”?

Martha Coakley, Attorney General of Massachusetts


There was great news last week for safe-schools and LGBT-equality advocates in Massachusetts, where the governor signed a measure strengthening the state’s anti-bullying law.

The many advocates who worked for the bill’s passage—including the organization Mass Equality and state Attorney General Martha Coakley—deserve wholehearted thanks and congratulations from those who believe in safe schools for all youth. Still, it’s worth pointing out an inaccuracy that appears in statements issued by the law’s supporters as well as in the media. Some advocates, journalists and bloggers have suggested that the law requires schools to single out specific groups, including LGBTQ students, for special protections. This is incorrect, though I recognize that the law may appear ambiguous on this point, at least at first glance.

Clarifying this issue may help prevent confusion among those who must work to implement the law; it may also help ensure that, moving forward, safe-schools advocates who favor inclusive policies don’t inadvertently feed into anti-LGBT talking points. Click here or on ‘Read More’ to view the full post.