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.

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.