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Gay-Straight Alliance Gets Go-Ahead at Lake Co. Middle School, For Now

May 3, 2013 | WMFE - The Lake County School District says a Leesburg 8th grader can form a student organization called the Gay-Straight Alliance, temporarily. Fourteen-year-old Bayli Silberstein was denied by the school district when she first asked to start the club about six months ago.

The consent for the club comes a day after the ACLU filed a lawsuit on behalf of the Carver Middle School student. Lake County Schools Communications Officer Chris Patton says under the terms of a compromise reached by both sides in court, the non-academic Gay-Straight Alliance can meet until the school year ends, in about a month. After that, he says, nothing’s set in stone.

“This consent order that was filed to resolve this lawsuit was just for this specific student, this specific school and this specific request,” says Patton. “Going forward, the Board is still going to continue their discussions on revising the student club and organization policy that will be for all students in all schools in the district.”

A key part of these discussions may be a new Florida law that deletes the definition of “secondary” schools as 6th through 12th grade, and does not re-define it. That’s important, because only “secondary” schools are protected under the federal Equal Access Act, which prevents discrimination against non-academic clubs and organizations.


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