Mississippi school district approves policy to discourage gay-straight alliances

Staff Reports

BRANDON, Miss. — A Mississippi school district has approved a policy change regarding school clubs in an effort to prevent students from organizing gay-straight alliances.

school-busThe Rankin County school board on Wednesday approved the change that would require parents to sign a consent form allowing their children to organize or participate in any school club, reports the Clarion Ledger.

Superintendent Lynn Weathersby raised the issue, saying “there has been a group wanting to form a gay club” and that he had sought guidance from the school board’s attorney and and several administrators “about what we could legally do to limit organizations like that on campus.”

Weathersby said parental consent would be the best strategy for limiting the clubs.

Although school board members and officials said they were not aware of any attempt to form a club in the district, a teacher at one high school in the district said she was approached by a student in December who expressed a desire to create a gay-straight alliance to help combat anti-gay discrimination and bullying.

She said the student submitted the proposal for the club to school administrators, and was unaware if that proposal is what prompted the school board’s action.

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The school district also released a statement Wednesday saying that officials do not promote the discussion of sexuality by students at school, and that it’s a matter parents need to discuss with kids at home in private.

Rob Hill, Director of the Mississippi chapter of the Human Rights Campaign, said in a statement that the policy “sends a harmful message to LGBT students in Rankin County that they are not welcomed within their classrooms, at school functions or on the bus.”

The American Civil Liberties Union has sent a letter to the Superintendent asking the school to cease and desist their new policy.

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