Lake County Gay-Straight Alliance Dispute: The Struggle Continues

A federal judge in Florida last week denied the Lake County School District’s motion to dismiss a lawsuit brought by the American Civil Liberties Union on behalf of a group of middle school students, who are seeking to form a gay-straight alliance with the same rights and privileges as other extra-curricular groups on campus. The proposed GSA, which existed briefly last year only to be banned again, would aim to reduce bullying and to provide a safe space for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, questioning and allied students.

As I’ve explained in a series of posts (listed below), the school district has devoted substantial time, energy and resources over the last year to prevent the GSA from forming, with at least two board members making some strange, inappropriate and/or inaccurate comments to me and others over email about the controversy. In its most recent court filings, moreover, the school board likened the GSA’s anti-bullying efforts to “sexual advocacy.” The board’s offensive arguments and misguided opposition to the GSA inflict harm on an already marginalized and vulnerable group of students entrusted to the district’s care.

While it’s certainly good news that a federal judge has refused to dismiss the case, the judge also declined the ACLU’s request for a preliminary injunction, which is troublesome.

I encourage readers to check out Thursday’s press release from the ACLU of Florida, which included this quote from staff attorney Daniel Tilley:

The school board’s ongoing effort to block these students from creating this club, including most recently their motion to dismiss this legal challenge, is the perfect example of why the club is so badly needed. All across the country, LGBT students are subject to serious bullying and harassment, and the students who make up the GSA at Carver are working to be a part of the solution by doing something that multiple studies have proven to work. Instead of supporting them, the school board is ignoring the problem, and in doing so, participating in it. Judge Hodges was right to throw out their motion to dismiss, and though we are disappointed that he also denied our motion for preliminary injunction, we look forward to continuing to make the case for why these brave kids should be allowed to stand up to the bullies.

MK

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Earlier Lake County Posts on Youth Allies: