A school board in New Mexico has voted to ban all school clubs after a gay-straight alliance applied for recognition.

Officials on the Clovis school board said the ban was a coincidence but the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) questioned the timing.

The alliance was approved by the principal last month who apparently did not realise that the district superintendent must approve new clubs.

District superintendent Terry Myers told the Albuquerque Journal that the gay-straight alliance’s application did not trigger the ban.

“Being a new superintendent in Clovis, the board asked me to review each policy as it came up and make recommendations or at least bring those to their attention if there’s some question as to what the board truly wants with a particular policy,” he said.

“This was not prompted by a particular request.”

The school board voted to ban any extra-curricular school group from using school premises during school hours. The ban also means that groups cannot use school resources.

Micah McCoy, of the ACLU of New Mexico, told Reuters: “This sort of tactic has been used in the past by school districts to discourage gay-straight clubs from forming. A lot of alarm bells went off when we saw this.”

The gay-straight alliance has not yet been approved. Mr Myers said it would be if it meets normal requirements.