A Gleeful Thought About School Clubs

"My two gay dads have a very close relationship with our local branch of the ACLU!"

When the overachieving show choir diva Rachel Berry delivered that line during last night's episode of Glee, I perked up a bit on the sofa. It's the second time the ACLU has gotten something of a shout-out from Rachel, invoking our name to threaten lawsuits. The first time was a few weeks ago during the "Wheels" episode, in which she dropped our name to a restaurant manager to pressure him to hire her friend Finn, sitting next to her in a wheelchair, with the veiled threat of a disability discrimination case. Fighting disability discrimination in employment is something we actually do care about a lot, except that in this case Finn was faking his disability.

This time, however, Rachel was much more on the right path in bringing us up. Folding to pressure from Glee Club nemesis Sue Sylvester, Principal Figgins had announced that the Glee Club would not be allowed to have a photo in the yearbook. What's more, his justification for doing so was to protect the Glee Club geeks from harassment by other students. That's just one of many rationalizations we at the ACLU often hear from schools attempting to illegally discriminate against another type of school club: gay-straight alliances.

The Federal Equal Access Act says if a public high school allows students to form non-curricular clubs at all, then it must allow students to form any non-curricular club they want, and the school must treat all non-curricular clubs equally. That means that if any clubs get to have a photo in the yearbook, then all clubs get to have a photo in the yearbook. Beyond that, courts have held that schools can't use concerns that students will be harassed as justification for restricting those students' rights — for example, that was one of the rulings in our Boyd County, Kentucky gay-straight alliance case a few years ago. If harassment is a problem, it's the harassers that schools need to punish, not the victims. Rachel's dads should have called us!

Of course, if Rachel's dads had called us, there wouldn't have been much of an episode. That's okay. Glee is one of those shows for which you have to suspend your disbelief quite a bit — people don't randomly burst into completely unrehearsed yet somehow perfectly-choreographed musical numbers in reality, and how on earth can Finn be so easily convinced that he got Quinn pregnant? But in this case, a throwaway mention of us highlights a very real issue about students' rights. If you're a lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender student (or a friend or parent of one) in a public school, know your rights —because you can't always count on your school officials to protect them. And check out our additional resources on LGBT students' rights in school.

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Anonymous

Have you ever seen an group of left-wing radicals so obsessed with homosexuality as the ACLU. And they are bragging about threatning to sue people. What a pathetic joke this group of liberals are. If you don't support perverted sodomy then they will demonize you as hatemongers and try to fing a way to sue you.

Devan Chavez

Im going to have my schools Gay-Straight allience read some of your stuff. As we live in a fairly consevative state, im sure that some of their rights as students are not being kept.

Anonymous

Merry Christmas to all the staff at the ACLU! May God Bless you!

ACLU and Glee fan

And while we're on the topic of the ACLU and Glee, maybe Rachel could bring in some ACLU lawyers to bring a lawsuit against Sue and McKinley High for kicking Quinn off the Cheerios for being pregnant. Hello pregnancy discrimination.

roald

And have you ever seen a group of right-wing radicals so obsessed with forcing others to live a certain way as the religious community? What a pathetic joke this group of haters is. If you don't agree with their definition of right and wrong, they will label you, beat you, and kill you just because you are how G-d made you.

Anonymous

God did make people gay, people choose to be gay. I choose every day to wake up and love my husband, I was not made that way. I get frustrated when Homosexuals are often put in the same class as blacks or hispanics. Black people were born black, they did not choose that. Gay people were not born gay, they choose to be gay.

Activist

Should we call the ACLU on this girl too!?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BPNg78FmCLs

Activist

Should we call the ACLU on this girl too!?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BPNg78FmCLs

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