GSA allowed to continue to meet in Okeechbobee High School

04/06/07 Mitch E. Perry
Alan Watts


In Miami, A federal judge ruled today that a club that promotes tolerance of gays must be allowed to meet at Okeechobee High School while a lawsuit is pending.


     The American Civil Liberties Union filed the lawsuit against the school board in November on behalf of the Gay-Straight Alliance.

School officials had said the group was a "sex-based" organization that would violate its abstinence-only education policy.


The judge ruled that the school must grant the same privileges to the group that it grants other clubs, as mandated by the federal Equal Access Act.


Rob Rosenwald is the Attorney for the Gay Straight Alliance in Okeechobee

(roll tape#1 o.q.”that argument, thankfully”)


Controversy over GSA’s is not limited to Okeechbee High.  2 years ago, certain groups in Hillsborough County tried to have such clubs removed from Hillsborough Schools.

Specifically, at Newsome High School, where in the fall of 2005, where over a thousand petitions were sent to School Board Members asking that they ban the group.


That plan went nowhere.  Last December, the School Board rejected a proposal to turn away students from extracurricular activities – namely GSA’s, if they did not have a permission slip.


Ron Rosenwald, who is the director of the State office of the ACLU’s LGBT Litigation ,

Says the decision by the Federal Judge is significant (roll tape#2 o.q.” rejected that argument, thankfully”)


The lawyer for the school board had said the case was not about gay rights but about allowing discussion of sex at a high school.


In his ruling, the judge said the school showed no evidence to back its concern that the group would encourage students to share "obscene or sexual explicit material," and that the school had made that assumption based on the group's name.


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