Bayli Silberstein wanted to start a Gay-Straight Alliance Club at her school, Carver Middle School in Leesburg, Florida.
Basically the 14-year-old wanted to create a school club where her friends who had been "bullied for their sexual orientation"could have a place to talk about such things, and generally hang out and do what middle school clubs do.
But the Lake County School Board decided that they know better and denied Silberstein's request to form the club. Several times. Until she and her mother contacted the ACLU.
So, to show Siberstein who the real adults are in this whole thing, the board basically threw a tantrum and threatened to end all school clubs instead of just allowing her and her friends to start the Gay-Straight Alliance Clubs.
The American Civil Liberties Union pointed the board to the federal Equal Access Act, which pretty much says that schools can't just pick and choose clubs "based on what they think students should or should not discuss."
For her part, Silberstein has been clear as to her intentions. Her application makes it clear that the club would be a place where those who had been bullied for being gay can meet and find sanctuary. She also cited several examples of incidents where kids were called names and, in some cases, physically bullied, for being gay.
School Board member Kyleen Fischer's argument is that the district should focus on education and that "social engineering" is not the job of the School Board. "It is not our job to socially mentor students, but to educate them," she said.
Tod Howard, another member of the board, said he was worried about the clubs that would be lost under stricter rules. "I am very concerned that one club would push out the remainder of the clubs that are doing good things."
Yea, we don't want to eliminate the Chess Club just because some kid wants to have a place where her gay friends can meet and, therefore, not be afraid to go to school because they're constantly harassed and threatened and made fun of because of their sexual orientation.
School ain't school unless it's a dark, frightening place.
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