CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. — In an effort to avoid a lawsuit by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), a Pennsylvania school district said it would allow a gay-straight alliance to meet until the school board can reconsider its application at next week’s meeting.
The Chambersburg Area School District notified the ACLU Wednesday afternoon that it will allow the group to meet at the Chambersburg Senior High School and would be granted the same benefits as any other club, until the board meets again on March 27.
Vic Walczak, Legal Director of the ACLU-Pa., said that had the school district had not acted before today’s deadline, the ACLU would have been headed to U.S. District Court next week to file a lawsuit.
“Depending on what the board does that will determine whether this continues or does not continue,” said Walczak. “We can wait for the formal decision.”
Last month, the school board voted 5-4 to deny the request to allow the club at Chambersburg Area Senior High School.
The ACLU says the school board’s action is a violation of federal law.
The ACLU cites the 1984 Federal Equal Access Act, which 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.
“We’ve never had to go to court on this issue,” said Walczak.
“We went back and pulled records on the issue. Since 2009, Chambersburg would be the fourth district we have had to send a letter to. All three settled before court,” he said.