CORPUS CHRISTI, Tex. — A Texas school district has banned all non-academic clubs from meeting on campus to ensure it’s complying with federal law after refusing to allow a student to start a gay-straight alliance.
The decision by the Flour Bluff Independent School District comes after Bianca “Nikki” Peet, a senior at Flour Bluff High School requested to start the GSA.
In a letter to Paul Rodriguez, the president of the Gay-Straight Alliance at Texas A&M-Corpus Christi, who has supported Peet’s efforts to organize the GSA, Superintendent Julie Carbajal defended the decision and said the school was committed to “supporting the cultural diversity” of all students.
Rodriguez had argued that denying Peet the chance to create a Gay-Straight Alliance violates the Equal Access Act, a law mandating that federally funded schools provide equal access to extracurricular clubs.
The legislation, approved in 1984, was seen then as an attempt to protect Bible study and other religious groups. The law has since been invoked by supporters of gay rights to protect the formation of Gay-Straight Alliances in schools.
Rodriguez said he gave the district two options when he intervened on behalf of Peet who had unsuccessfully petitioned her principal to start a club. He said the district could approve Peet’s club or disallow other clubs not based in the curriculum.
Carbajal said she has asked the Fellowship of Christian Athletes to meet off campus while the district studies the legality of allowing the club while disallowing a club supporting gay students, and that she will make sure all other school clubs in the district follow the district’s academic-only policy.
She said there is no chance the district will approve the proposed GSA.
The Texas Civil Rights Project has threatened to take legal action against the school district if Carbajal doesn’t reverse her decision.
In an interview with KRIS-TV, James Harrington, director of the Project, said “we will simply file a lawsuit in federal court, or we could also file a complaint with the office of civil rights and have the school district investigated for compliance with federal law.”
Harrington said Flour Bluff’s choice to ban all non-academic clubs from meeting on campus won’t get them out of hot water. “They’re doing this in retaliation,” he said.
Supporters of Peet’s proposed GSA plan to protest outside the school on Friday morning.