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Florida

Local residents pack school board meeting to debate gay-straight alliance

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

TAVARES, Fla. — More than 100 parents, students and local residents packed a Lake County, Fla., school board meeting on Monday to voice their opinion on a possible ban on extracurricular clubs after a student applied to form a gay-straight alliance club.

The school board is considering eliminating all non-academic clubs from middle and high school campuses instead of allowing a student to form a gay-straight alliance.

Bayli Silberstein
Photo via the Orlando Sentinel

The controversy started after Bayli Silberstein, 14, applied to form the gay-straight alliance at Carver Middle School in Leesburg, Fla.

Silberstein, who is openly bisexual, said her application was denied last school year, and when she reapplied last November, she never received a response from the school’s principal about whether it was approved or denied.

Dozens of attendees at Monday’s meeting wore red shirts emblazoned with “Standing with Bayli,” many of whom were overcome with emotion as they urged the board to allow the gay-straight group to meet, reported the Orlando Sentinel.

The American Civil Liberties Union, citing the federal Equal Access Act, has advised the school district that it cannot pick and choose which clubs to allow based on what they think students should or should not discuss.

According to the ACLU, Silberestein wanted to form the alliance as a way to combat bullying against LGBT students. Silberstein’s application detailed instances of children being shoved or called names because of their sexual orientation.

The school board has not denied Silberstein’s second application, but in a workshop earlier this month, instead drafted a policy that would put an end to any club that is not tied to a specific class.

The policy, if adopted, would effectively ban the gay-straight alliance club from forming.

A decision from the board is not expected until April.

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14 more reader comments:

  1. I seriously doubt they could pic the glbt students appart in a line up if put next to the straight students. This is getting rediculous at an alarming rate.

    Posted on Tuesday, February 19, 2013 at 6:04am
  2. Another young hero!

    Posted on Tuesday, February 19, 2013 at 6:05am
  3. You live in Florida and you’re debating a gay-straight alliance? What is wrong with you people? No one is forced to attend, it’s a voluntary organization that helps to eliminate biases and intolerance. Stop wasting everyone’s time, there are more important issues that affect your kids.

    Posted on Tuesday, February 19, 2013 at 6:31am
  4. I’m proud of this girl, even if she is getting hell for it. This group is not something that anyone would be forced to attend. I say that if the school won’t approve it, then she should be able to hold meetings at home with those that want to be involved, etc. I hope she doesn’t give up if shot down for a second time.

    Posted on Tuesday, February 19, 2013 at 7:05am
  5. This is the same crap we had in the 90′s. The world is a different place today. I wonder if the school has realized that there can be no football or cheer leading if there are no clubs?

    Posted on Tuesday, February 19, 2013 at 7:27am
  6. There are “Gay” kids in all schools, they just try to blend in and not get noticed…if they get noticed they get bullied, it shouldnt be about “straight or gay” it should be an anti bullying campaign – schools should be safe and kids need to worry about education and graduation, not about who they are sleeping with.

    Posted on Tuesday, February 19, 2013 at 7:51am
  7. Imagine, how intelligent the parents are: willing go cut out ALL after-school activities, just to keep a few LGBTQ students from meeting in their own group!! INTOLERANCE, BIGOTRY and HATE BROUGHT TO NEW LOWS!!

    Posted on Tuesday, February 19, 2013 at 7:54am
  8. The ones who are making the most noise about gays are the very ones who sneak out of hotels after 1-2hrs of carnal pleasure and it isn’t with their wives or husbands you can be sure of that. Do they kow the rate of HIV/AIDS is increasing amongst the so called str8 population? Instead of rapping about gays maybe they need to be ‘wrapping it up’……..

    Posted on Tuesday, February 19, 2013 at 8:43am
  9. The fact that the school board is so adamantly against a gay/straight ALLIANCE (!) just shows how much it is needed in that school. The point of these clubs are to teach tolerance and understanding. The end goal being to put a stop to aggressive behavior motivated by misunderstanding, fear, shame, and stereotypes. How could anyone possibly argue that this is something students shouldn’t discuss, work towards or care about?

    Posted on Tuesday, February 19, 2013 at 9:49am
  10. I guess then bullying is ok in this school district and the board stands behind bullying. WTF? Has the world gone crazy? What do these people have to fear, a kinder, gentler world? I dont get it.

    Posted on Tuesday, February 19, 2013 at 10:00am
  11. Isn’t it great to have a majority that reviles you get to meet and decide your existence is invalid. I know it makes my day.

    Posted on Tuesday, February 19, 2013 at 10:41am
  12. Florida will change. Let these people enjoy taking from others…some day it will be taken from them

    Posted on Tuesday, February 19, 2013 at 11:42am
  13. funny thing is the kids that want the LGBT group can still have it in someones house no matter what but if they go to this extreem the straight kids will suffer more.You cant have a football team or game in someones basement without people knowing.We will still gather and spread peace and love for EVERYONE.We will over come.

    Posted on Tuesday, February 19, 2013 at 2:42pm
  14. I hope they go for it as these kids need to be able to be part of a group that embraces them to build their self esteems

    Posted on Tuesday, February 19, 2013 at 4:03pm