A school in Texas has banned all extra-curricular clubs in a move to block a student’s request to form a Gay-Straight Alliance that would bring together straight and LGBT students. The group would provide support and promote understanding between students.
In a 2009 survey by the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Network, 1 in 9 American LGBT students reported experiencing harassment at school, proving a need for GSAs in schools to help combat bullying and prejudice.
The principal of Flour Bluff High School, James Crenshaw, denied the request to found the GSA by student Nikki Peet, 17, in November, despite her fulfilling all the requirements to start a student club.
With no other reasons left to prevent the GSA from forming, Flour Bluff has now banned all extra-curricular clubs, asking existing clubs to meet off campus for the time being. The Flour Bluff Independent School District has backed the decision of the high school.
“I am shocked and disappointed that my school district would rather punish students by eliminating extracurricular clubs than allow the formation of a club whose entire purpose is to promote tolerance,” said Ms Peet. “It’s going to bring a lot of hate and animosity to the school because now people are going to be like [sic], the people who are for the GSA, they’re the ones who stopped the other clubs. So we’re kind of being blamed for it.”
Activists say the decision is in contravention of the federal Equal Access Act 1984, which requires schools to offer fair opportunities for students to form their own extra-curricular groups without discrimination, which the school has done until now. Christine Sun, senior counsel with the national American Civil Liberties Union’s (ACLU) LGBT and AIDS Project said: “Officials from Flour Bluff School District deny they are subject to federal law, but in fact, they are held to the same standard as other schools and must treat extra-curricular groups equally, regardless of their students’ religion, political affiliation or sexual orientation.”
Superintendent of the Flour Bluff Independent School District, Dr Julie Carbajal claims the school is exempt from the Equal Access Act 1984 thanks to a district approved policy forbidding student clubs meeting on campus if they are not tied to the curriculum.