Students, Backed by ACLU, Head to Trial in Lake County (Florida) Gay-Straight Alliance Case

Florida drawn in chalk on green school chalkboard
Bill Mathias Official Photo
School Board Member Bill Mathias finds it “odd” that I write about Lake County, since he is “sure there is injustice in [my] part of the world.
The long-running dispute over the right of students to form a gay-straight alliance (GSA) at Carver Middle School in Lake County, Florida, is headed to trial in federal court this week before a Nixon-appointed judge, the Honorable William Terrell Hodges. For some background on the saga, check out the short local news video and the list of earlier Youth Allies posts (below).

It’s certainly frustrating that the school board, after all this time, is still fighting this club. (Some readers may recall that one Lake County School Board member told me in a ridiculous email almost two years ago that the board had “not blocked the GSA.” That statement, evidently, was false. Around the same time, another school board member inappropriately questioned a middle school student’s sexual orientation in an email to blogger Katy Bourne.)

Nevertheless, I am inspired by the tenacity and courage of the students, their families, their attorneys, and their many other allies. I wish them much luck (though they shouldn’t need it) as they continue their work to overcome the misunderstandings, misinformation, unfounded fears, hostility, and bias that have run rampant in Lake County over this issue. Click here or on ‘Read More’ to view the full post.

Lawsuit Filed Over Anti-LGBT Bullying & Harassment in Mississippi School District

Gavel

The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) announced a new lawsuit today over anti-LGBT mistreatment at school: The organization is suing Mississippi’s Moss Point School District, the district’s school board, and two district administrators on behalf of a student, Destin Holmes, “who endured such severe harassment she was eventually driven out of school.” Click here or on ‘Read More’ to learn more and to watch a related video.

Texas Teen’s Fight Serves As Important Reminder:
Federal Law Protects Trans Youth

Tuxedo image
[November 15 Update: Jeydon has prevailed, and will appear in a tuxedo in the yearbook. My original 11/14 post about Jeydon and the SPLC continues below. – MK]

A dispute unfolding in Texas serves as another important reminder that the federal Constitution and federal civil rights statutes, if properly applied and enforced, protect public school students from anti-transgender discrimination regardless of what state and local laws might provide.

Yesterday, the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) sent a demand letter to the school board in La Feria, Texas, on behalf of a transgender student, Jeydon Loredo, who was denied permission to wear a tuxedo in a yearbook photograph. The district’s superintendent, Rey Villarreal, told Loredo’s mother that the yearbook would include her son’s picture only if he wore traditionally feminine clothing, like a “blouse or drape.”

The SPLC’s letter says the organization will take legal action if the district doesn’t change course.
Click here or on Read More to read the full post and to see the video.