Florida School Would Rather Ban Clubs Than Allow Gay-Straight Alliance

Lake County, FL – The Lake County School Board might change the rules so that students can’t start a gay-straight alliance club. During a workshop Monday, they discussed student clubs and mostly agreed that they want to limit extra-curricular student groups in secondary schools.

It all started last year when 14-year-old Bayli Silberstein wanted to start a gay-straight alliance club to help her friends who had been “bullied for their sexual orientation” at Carver Middle School in Leesburg, reports MSN.

The school repeatedly turned down her request, prompting Bayli and her mother to contact the American Civil Liberties Union. The ACLU then contacted administrators to direct their attention to the federal Equal Access Act, which prevents schools from arbitrarily picking and choosing what kinds of clubs they’ll allow based on “what they think students should or should not discuss.”

The Orlando Sentinel reports that the school board is basically in a corner. If it allows any student group to organize without an academic purpose, it basically has to allow any student group to organize without an academic purpose. In Florida, the law applies to middle and high school students.

So now the board is considering banning all clubs without academic purpose.

Critics of the move say that “social engineering” is not the board’s job. “It is not our job to socially mentor students, but to educate them,” said one.

Another expressed concern that other clubs would be unfairly marginalized. “I am very concerned that one club would push out the remainder of the clubs that are doing good things,” he said.

What do you think? Should the middle school just allow a gay-straight alliance club, or outlaw all clubs?