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.

There’s No Parental “Liberty” to Dictate Discrimination

Texas on Green School Chalkboard

There’s been a bit of a flap in Lumberton, Texas, where school officials suspended transgender school teacher Laura Jane Klug after parents complained that she was a “distraction.” Fortunately, the school district appears now to have reinstated Ms. Klug, though the district says it has not made a final decision, and it has asked her not to come back right away to minimize distraction during a student testing period.

One parent concerned about Klug’s presence in the classroom reportedly said, “Each parent has the individual liberty, individual rights to determine at what age it is appropriate for their children to be exposed to certain things.”

Actually, no. Click here or on ‘Read More’ to view the full post.

Great News for Grayson! School Backs Down, Will Allow My Little Pony Bag

North Carolina on Green School Chalkboard

Earlier this week, I published a post and video about a brave nine-year-old, Grayson Bruce, who had spoken out publicly against bullying after getting verbally and physically attacked at his North Carolina school. Other kids had picked on him relentlessly because they thought his My Little Pony bag was “girlie.” And to make matters worse, school administrators initially responded by telling Grayson not to wear the bag, saying it was the “trigger for bullying.” (Check out my original post for further thoughts on that.)

Fortunately, the school has changed course (though it took a national outcry) and will allow Grayson to wear his bag. Administrators have published the following statement from Grayson’s mother, Noreen Bruce, on the district’s Facebook page:

Click here or on ‘Read More’ to view the full post.

Lake County Gay-Straight Alliance Dispute: The Struggle Continues

Lake County on Map in Blue

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. Click here or on ‘Read More’ to view the full post.