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ACLU files second lawsuit after Fla. school again blocks gay-straight alliance

Thursday, December 19, 2013

OCALA, Fla. — The ACLU on Thursday sued a central Florida school district for the second time this year, claiming it is once again refusing to approve a Gay-Straight Alliance (GSA) club at a middle school.

Lake-County-School-BoardThe suit against the Lake County, Fla., school board was filed on behalf of a group of students led by 12-year-old Hannah Faughnan, a seventh-grader from Leesburg, Fla., who were denied their application to form a gay-straight alliance at Carver Middle School.

Earlier this year, the ACLU sued the district on behalf of Bayli Silberstein, then a 14-year-old 8th-grader at Carver whose effort to establish the club had been blocked by school administrators for nearly a year. A short time later, the school board agreed to a settlement allowing the club to form.

The club met three times before the end of the school year, although students claimed discussion was chilled by the presence of a principal or an assistant principal at the meetings, according to the lawsuit filed Thursday.

In August, the board passed new rules for school clubs and required all existing clubs to reapply in order to meet.

The GSA submitted the club application explaining the goals of the club – including “to create and execute strategies to confront and work to end bullying, discrimination, and harassment against all students” – in October.

On December 5th, after the ACLU requested an update on the status of the GSA application, the school board’s attorney stated that the Superintendent had denied the club application under the new club policy and would not permit it to operate as a school club, claiming that the club was not an extension of the school curriculum.

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But according to the ACLU, numerous other non-curricular clubs have been approved across the district.

“It seems there’s nothing the school board won’t do to keep the students at Carver Middle School from their legally-protected right to start a GSA and fight bullying and discrimination at their school,” stated Daniel Tilley, staff attorney for the ACLU of Florida. “It’s clear that the school board’s new club policy was just the latest tool to try to stop these students.”

“What’s most disappointing is that as these kids are facing bullying in the classrooms, they’re being subjected to a more sophisticated kind of bullying from the officials who should be protecting them. The school board’s response to what these kids are doing is the perfect example of why a GSA is so important,” said Tilley.

Lake County Schools spokesman Chris Patton said school officials hadn’t received the lawsuit yet and he couldn’t comment on it.

Associated Press contributed to this report.
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51 more reader comments:

  1. in Canada it would be against the law to prevent a gay-straight alliance, it’s a student right

    Posted on Thursday, December 19, 2013 at 11:58pm
  2. Why can't I be Canadian? :/

    Replied on Friday, December 20, 2013 at 12:08am
  3. thats disgustng fucking socialist... I am a proud gay conservative, and i would never support such initiatives

    Replied on Friday, December 20, 2013 at 12:13am
  4. Gay conservative? Christopher, are you aware of the fact that your party is preventing you from having the same rights as everyone else?

    Replied on Friday, December 20, 2013 at 12:18am
  5. I hate how everyone knocks socialism... like thats why we have help for poor such as snaps, road work, school funding, police, fire department... all of that is payed for by the government which is socialistic ideas, every type of governement socialism, capitalism and communism alone has failed only time things work is when we combine them. But somehow every time someone brings up a socialistic aspect they idioticly go "ohh socialist you want to be like hitler and make a socialistic country stop with the socialism" hello if we didnt have socialistic aspects in our country we wouldnt have a lot of things, we wouldnt have a fucking government. or the government would just exist to take your tax money but do nothing for you except exist.

    Replied on Friday, December 20, 2013 at 12:32am
  6. my school is a catholic school and they dont have a GSA.

    Replied on Friday, December 20, 2013 at 12:50am
  7. and im in canada

    Replied on Friday, December 20, 2013 at 12:50am
  8. I didn't say they all have one, I said we all have a right to one

    Replied on Friday, December 20, 2013 at 12:50am
  9. I’m sorry they are facing so much opposition to their GSA … eventually they will prevail. Time is on our side. But unfortunately, that’s no help to the kids who need support and protection NOW.

    Posted on Friday, December 20, 2013 at 12:01am
  10. i totally get what you mean; my school contains no supports for lgbtq students and i feel so alone. i really hope that someday every school has a GSA

    Replied on Friday, December 20, 2013 at 12:51am
  11. Best of luck Julia. I just want to let you know you are not alone. The entire LGBTQ community stands with you.

    Replied on Friday, December 20, 2013 at 1:17am
  12. What a waste of taxpayer dollars defending the actions of such unenlightened educational “leaders”.

    Posted on Friday, December 20, 2013 at 12:03am
  13. Lake county FL is red necks, bigots and religious Brain Deads. One of the reasons why my family moved away and never went back.

    Posted on Friday, December 20, 2013 at 12:04am
  14. I had to fight my school to have gsa for a year.

    Posted on Friday, December 20, 2013 at 12:05am
  15. This is the same county whose school board once banned deep breathing exercises as they weren’t Christian. So yeah, not surprised.

    Posted on Friday, December 20, 2013 at 12:06am
  16. FUCK YOU

    Posted on Friday, December 20, 2013 at 12:07am
  17. Florida always sucks ass!

    Posted on Friday, December 20, 2013 at 12:08am
  18. Good,they need to be sued Fucking Homophobes.

    Posted on Friday, December 20, 2013 at 12:09am
  19. lived there..hated it as a grown up

    Posted on Friday, December 20, 2013 at 12:10am
  20. what a hell hole..and btw Ocala isn't part of Lake County..not better but not part

    Replied on Friday, December 20, 2013 at 12:16am
  21. But don’t shut up an old Duck hunter…………

    Posted on Friday, December 20, 2013 at 12:10am
  22. Alot of small colleges are trying to ensue on this too…thank god my college is just above that mark

    Posted on Friday, December 20, 2013 at 12:11am
  23. Good!

    Posted on Friday, December 20, 2013 at 12:12am
  24. If the schools allows other after school clubs, they by law must allow others.

    Posted on Friday, December 20, 2013 at 12:13am
  25. In the united states its against the law to refuse the organization of a school club. As long as said club has atleast one teacher sponsor. I researched this when i started making letters to start my gsa 4 yrs ago when i was a sophomore

    Posted on Friday, December 20, 2013 at 12:18am
  26. That’s how it should be, Emily.

    Posted on Friday, December 20, 2013 at 12:18am
  27. What the dump Florida.

    Posted on Friday, December 20, 2013 at 12:19am
  28. and when people do try to get together and work this out peacefully, they’re allowed. Sure, let’s just keep fighting. Like that’ll help anybody.

    Posted on Friday, December 20, 2013 at 12:46am
  29. I feel bad for all FL schools. Think about it FL is anti approval in a shoot ton of areas and it makes me nauseous to think it gets worse. Kids shouldn’t die or feel worthless for their core self. ;0)

    Posted on Friday, December 20, 2013 at 1:10am
  30. Keep the pressure on them

    Posted on Friday, December 20, 2013 at 1:16am
  31. School is no place for a you to push a gay agenda, much less any other agenda. Kids are there to learn, not figure out which gay bar they are going to. Kids want support they need to find it after school.

    Posted on Friday, December 20, 2013 at 1:25am
  32. Homophobia is a social disease. Get the to Kinsey Institute and learn something before you open your bigot mouth again.

    Replied on Friday, December 20, 2013 at 2:55am
  33. Emily, yes indeed.

    Posted on Friday, December 20, 2013 at 1:34am
  34. It’s so sad that this kind of mentality is still prevalent anywhere in the country. It’s an embarrassment to the U.S.

    Posted on Friday, December 20, 2013 at 1:41am
  35. What is wrong with Florida……..it’s one of the gayest states around….just go to Disney!!!!!!!!

    Posted on Friday, December 20, 2013 at 1:46am
  36. So many bigoted idiots, it’s a disgrace. Looking at the comment a few before mine, such a freaking jackass.

    Posted on Friday, December 20, 2013 at 1:47am
  37. If anyone knows how to contact this girl or Silberstein my fiancé is the one who sued Okeechobee High School over the same thing. If they need support we’re here : )

    Posted on Friday, December 20, 2013 at 2:10am
  38. WOW

    Posted on Friday, December 20, 2013 at 2:40am
  39. Fuck flori-duh

    Posted on Friday, December 20, 2013 at 3:30am
  40. Take the principal’s IRA account and the superintendent’s home.

    Strip the school board members of every penny they own.

    A lesson needs to be taught.

    Posted on Friday, December 20, 2013 at 3:30am
  41. we will win the lawsuit beware ACLU is very very POWERFUL

    Posted on Friday, December 20, 2013 at 3:35am
  42. Oh so now I’m a bigot because I think school is a place for learning real skills and subjects versus honing a child’s social skills??? That’s great!! Proud to be a bigot in that case.

    Posted on Friday, December 20, 2013 at 3:36am
  43. Gay agenda? Lmao what a db

    Posted on Friday, December 20, 2013 at 3:41am
  44. That’s a great argument Jeanette!! Lol… A 2nd greater could do better

    Posted on Friday, December 20, 2013 at 3:43am
  45. All these lawsuits have to be hurting that school, so why are they still fighting to keep a support group out when it won’t hurt anybody? Just the opposite, a GSA could probably help kids in that school a lot.

    The administrators must be a bunch of hateful bigots.

    Posted on Friday, December 20, 2013 at 4:41am
  46. The local high school here didn’t openly ban it, they made the person trying to start it jump through all kinds of hoops then refused after he did everything asked of him

    Posted on Friday, December 20, 2013 at 4:59am
  47. You mean “2nd grader”… Dumb ass.

    Posted on Friday, December 20, 2013 at 5:16am
  48. Bigots!

    Posted on Friday, December 20, 2013 at 6:51am
  49. Good for her

    Posted on Friday, December 20, 2013 at 8:59am
  50. Their ignorance is their bless. They will have to come to the table sooner or later. That old saying pay me now or pay me later applies here.

    Posted on Friday, December 20, 2013 at 1:50pm