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Pennsylvania

Pa. school board votes to deny formation of gay-straight alliance

Thursday, February 28, 2013

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. — Despite hearing testimony that LGBT youth were three times more likely to take their own lives as opposed to their straight peers, Chambersburg, Pa., school board members on Wednesday voted against allowing a gay-straight alliance to be established at a local high school.

A motion to form the Gay-Straight Alliance at Chambersburg Area Senior High School had been previously tabled in January. A spokesperson for the school board said that at the time the board had concerns regarding the wording of the proposed GSA’s constitution.

According to the GSA’s proposed student President Amber Fogelsonger, the group’s constitution’s wording was taken from the National GSA which specifies that the club would select its advisers.

Disagreement over that aspect of the wording came as school board members argued that it is set policy that school administration recommend the advisers and the board votes on it.

In Wednesday’s board meeting, advocates for the GSA asked the board to allow the club to form during the public comments session.

“Students need a place to talk safely,” Matthew Basillo, one of the advisers planning to mentor the new club, told board members. “Is this need being addressed? It’s not. They need a place to feel safe, dispel myths, grow and prosper.”

Basillo advised the school board that LGBT teens “often do not have anyone outside of school who understands them and supports them.”

Stephanie Metz, an educator in nearby Shippensburg, Pa., and a Chambersburg resident, warned the board of the consequences that could come from banning a GSA. She said she does not want her tax dollars to be used on a court case because the Constitution allows equal opportunity when it comes to student club formation.

“Do not promote ignorance by voting ‘no.’ Narrow-minded viewpoints seem to be pervasive on this board,” she said.

The 1984 Federal Equal Access Act requires secondary schools to allow a variety of student-run religious and non-religious voluntary clubs that meet during “non-instructional” time. This law was later upheld by the U. S. Supreme Court.

The board voted 5-4 to deny formation of the club.

“This time we’re going to take legal action because they cannot technically deny us, because if there are three other clubs in school that are not school-related, they cannot by law deny our club,” said Fogelsonger, after the vote.

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35 more reader comments:

  1. Assssshooooolessss…….

    Posted on Thursday, February 28, 2013 at 2:49pm
  2. they know Secretary Arne Duncan will never enforce this http://www2.ed.gov/about/offices/list/ocr/letters/colleague-201010.pdf

    Posted on Thursday, February 28, 2013 at 2:51pm
  3. Get the ACLU, the SPLC, the NCLR, and Lambda Legal involved. Blow them back into their anachronistic pews.

    Posted on Thursday, February 28, 2013 at 2:52pm
  4. NO child should be denied the right to feel safe and have access to an education. What is WRONG with the school board and administration to DENY this!?

    Posted on Thursday, February 28, 2013 at 2:52pm
  5. What is wrong with these schools? Do they not realize that these lawsuits eat up tax payer money. And aside from that this just wrong no discussion about it. A gay-straight alliance is an amazing way for their to be outreach.

    Posted on Thursday, February 28, 2013 at 2:53pm
  6. Can you say “lawsuit”??? :)

    Posted on Thursday, February 28, 2013 at 2:54pm
  7. Lawsuit, here we come!

    Posted on Thursday, February 28, 2013 at 2:54pm
  8. It’s good to hear they’re going to take legal action, sometimes that’s the only way to win your right.

    Posted on Thursday, February 28, 2013 at 2:55pm
  9. This is why im leaving pa

    Posted on Thursday, February 28, 2013 at 2:55pm
  10. this is sad. this is like an hour 45 min from where i live. :(

    Posted on Thursday, February 28, 2013 at 2:55pm
  11. Go Kids Go, Sue those Jerks!

    Posted on Thursday, February 28, 2013 at 2:58pm
  12. … and my friends from college wonder why I won’t move back to Pittsburgh.

    Posted on Thursday, February 28, 2013 at 2:58pm
  13. So much wrong with society

    Posted on Thursday, February 28, 2013 at 2:59pm
  14. EEOC Violation! Discrimination based on sexual orientation. The Bullying School System!

    Posted on Thursday, February 28, 2013 at 2:59pm
  15. So wrong!

    Posted on Thursday, February 28, 2013 at 3:00pm
  16. Not a surprise for that place.

    Posted on Thursday, February 28, 2013 at 3:05pm
  17. time to home school folks

    Posted on Thursday, February 28, 2013 at 3:06pm
  18. Sounds like it is time to get NEW Chambersburg Pennsylvania School Board Members since these are obviously IGNORANT :>)

    Posted on Thursday, February 28, 2013 at 3:15pm
  19. Narrow minded bigots

    Posted on Thursday, February 28, 2013 at 3:17pm
  20. Seriously? Is this 1990? Get with the times PA!

    Posted on Thursday, February 28, 2013 at 3:19pm
  21. When I see stories like this, I am even more thankful for the supportive administration at Avon High School (Indiana)!

    Posted on Thursday, February 28, 2013 at 3:19pm
  22. This is bigoted, close-minded and sad for all youth in the town.

    Posted on Thursday, February 28, 2013 at 3:22pm
  23. ‘FAIL!’

    Posted on Thursday, February 28, 2013 at 3:33pm
  24. The more students around the country are empowered and form Gay Straight Alliances, the more bigots we will face. Stay strong~

    Posted on Thursday, February 28, 2013 at 3:37pm
  25. How sad for all these, as well as future students. Time to elect a new school board.

    Posted on Thursday, February 28, 2013 at 3:38pm
  26. What the fuck – come on now.
    We have them in Tennessee.

    Posted on Thursday, February 28, 2013 at 3:38pm
  27. I just don’t get it…

    Posted on Thursday, February 28, 2013 at 3:55pm
  28. “Ignorance is bliss”

    Posted on Thursday, February 28, 2013 at 4:02pm
  29. I’m not going to say anything about closed-minded bigots. That would be rude and insensitive.

    Posted on Thursday, February 28, 2013 at 4:20pm
  30. They are all probably Republicunts!

    Posted on Thursday, February 28, 2013 at 4:31pm
  31. Sic to treat kids with their bigotry.

    Posted on Thursday, February 28, 2013 at 4:38pm
  32. Criminals go straight. Gay or bisexual is not a crime.

    Posted on Thursday, February 28, 2013 at 4:43pm
  33. Do I really need to say this: narrow minded, bigoted idiots. Every school should have a GSA so that students can learn that understanding diversity is important to the culture of this country. I wonder if they this school board would allow the KKK to have a meeting in the school gym.

    Posted on Thursday, February 28, 2013 at 4:57pm
  34. Phooie. What century are they in?

    Posted on Thursday, February 28, 2013 at 5:14pm
  35. These stories popping up on my news feed make me sway back and forth like no other. “YAY PROGRESS HAS BEEN MADE!” “NOOO WHY DID WE GO BACKWARDS!”

    Posted on Thursday, February 28, 2013 at 5:52pm