Defense of Cleveland, Georgia Gay-Straight Alliance
Read a profile of Kerry Pacer, one of the student plaintiffs in this case, by GLSEN founder Kevin Jennings.
When students asked school officials to let them start a gay-straight alliance club in 2005 to combat rampant anti-gay harassment and bullying at at White County High School in Cleveland, Georgia, they were met with resistance and stalling tactics for several months. School administrators reluctantly agreed to let the club form late in the school year after the ACLU of Georgia stepped in and negotiated on the students’ behalf. The students named the gay-straight alliance PRIDE (“Peers Rising in Diverse Education”) and began meeting.
A few days later, school officials announced plans to ban all non-curricular student groups staring with the next academic year. PRIDE hasn’t been permitted to meet on campus in the 2005-2006 school year, but several other clubs – including “Shooting Club” and a school dance team – continue meeting at WCHS even though they don’t participate in activities relevant to the curriculum, academic credit is not provided for participation in them, and participation in them isn’t required for any course.
The ACLU’s Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender Project and the ACLU of Georgia filed a lawsuit in federal court against school officials for illegally banning the GSA and succeed in securing a preliminary injunction ordering the school to allow the GSA and all other school clubs to meet.
Status: Victory! The ACLU reached a settlement agreement with school officials in White County. The terms of the settlement agreement include enacting an anti-harassment policy to protect lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender students from bullying. The school has also agreed to provide their faculty with annual training sessions on how to deal with and prevent anti-gay harassment.