GSA at Kentucky HS gets approval


After more than a year of fighting with their school administrators and their school’s governing council, students wanting to form a gay-straight alliance (GSA) at Boone County (KY) High School finally got their chance.

According to an article from 365gay.com the school’s site-based governing council (as opposed to a district-wide Board of Education similar to Winston-Salem and Greensboro schools) approved the club in a meeting on Wednesday night. Their decision comes after a year of stalling on the issue. The decision also makes it possible for the school to avoid a federal lawsuit for breaking the Equal Access Act (1984).

In June the Kentucky Equality Alliance had stepped in to support the LGBT and straight students, reminding the school that their prevention of allowing the club could be in violation of Kentucky’s Education Reform Act, as well as the Equal Access Act. The Kentucky Equality Alliance threatened to take the school to court if the problem was not resolved.

Although it is common for schools to often attempt blocking the formation of GSAs, courts have consistently ruled in favor of the students. The article from 365gay.com News points out recent cases in California, Utah and Indiana.

Even in North Carolina, LGBT and straight students have faced uphill battles in trying to form their own gay-straight student organizations. Before I entered R.J. Reynolds High School to start the GSA there in September 2000, students at West Forsyth High School (with the aid of the now defunct GLSEN Winston-Salem) fought for months to get Board and school approval.

Recently in North Carolina, students at South Rowan High School have had to fight to keep their club. Although the club is now technically allowed, the Rowan-Salisbury School Board voted on April 10, 2006, to start the process of drafting apolicy to prohibit “sex-based” clubs in their schools (See past posts relating to South Rowan High School).

For more information on the GSA at Boone County (KY) High School see the 365gay.com News article or see the press release (PDF) from the Kentucky Equality Alliance.

PS – After I my graduation from Reynolds, the activity of the GSA there went steadily downhill. Although interested students remained, the organization kind of become non-existent. A rising sophomore at Reynolds is now taking up the charge and is planning on re-establishing the group on campus. Seeing as though the Winston-Salem School System says the GSAs are political clubs and that political clubs are supposed to be non-school sponsored, but yet the Teen Republicans and Young Democrats at Reynolds have operated as school sponsored groups for two years now, then the GSA should have absolutely no problem in gaining school sponsorship in 2006-2007.


Comments
3 Responses to “GSA at Kentucky HS gets approval”
  1. Rudicus says:

    We had this same issue in the GA school system in White County. At first the school didn’t allow the GSA club, but the court overturned that, so the GSA was back on, but then the school decided to ban ALL club so that this one club couldn’t meet. But since then they got caught allowing many other clubs anyway, so they were finally ordered to recognize this GSA club.

    And they say it was all because of activist judges.

  2. Matt says:

    The current problem in my old school and school system is that the System Attorney and Board of Education have deemed the GSAs as “political in nature.” Under the policy for non-school sponsored, student-initiated clubs, all clubs with a political, religious or other ideological view are to be “non-school sponsored.”

    While I was still a student at Reynolds High School, us students decided to form Teen Republican and Young Democrat groups. The school and system allowed these clubs to operate as school-sponsored clubs and I called them on it.

    During my last-ditch effort (one to two months before graduation) to get our gay-straight club (called SPEAK, or Students Promoting Equality, Awareness and Knowledge) school-sponsorship, we had the School Attorney, Mr. Doug Punger, come meet with our group in an after-school meeting. He told us that we were essentially a gay-straight group (nevermind the fact we had worked on other diversity issues like observing MLK day, hate crimes (on all issues) and Women’s History Month).

    He said that the GSAs were political groups and that political groups could not be school sponsored. So, I called him on it. I pointed out the fact that Teen Republicans and Young Democrats were school sponsored. Instead of getting school sponsorship of SPEAK because of that, Mr. Punger told our principal to make the TRs and YDs non-school sponsored. Needless to say, I pissed off a lot of folks.

    Fast forward a year (after I graduate) and the TRs and YDs are again being treated as school sponsored, even having the opportunity to have club pages in the year book (something non-school sponsored clubs cannot have). Fast forward another year (2005-2006) and the TRs and YDs are still being treated as school sponsored.

    What the Winston-Salem/Forsyth County School System is doing is horribly wrong and it even goes against its own policies and regulations. The System is not acting consistently in its enforcement of its own policies by breaking or bending the for some groups while denying the same opportunities to others (i.e. the “gay groups”).

    I can’t wait to see what happens when the student at Reynolds starts organizing the GSA again. The Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Board of Education needs their ass served to them on a silver platter (read: FEDERAL LAWSUIT).

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  1. […] I’m promoting my comment from a previous post to an actual post of its own. It is an important story and situation and it needs attention: The current problem in my old school and school system is that the System Attorney and Board of Education have deemed the GSAs as “political in nature.” Under the policy for non-school sponsored, student-initiated clubs, all clubs with a political, religious or other ideological view are to be “non-school sponsored.” […]



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