Misconceptions and Facts about the Boyd County High School GSA

Document Date: January 9, 2003

Misconceptions and Facts about the Boyd County High School GSA

The ACLU’s Lesbian and Gay Rights Project has been involved for some time now in a dispute in Kentucky over the formation of a Gay-Straight Alliance at Boyd County High School. Some of the details of the GSA’s struggle and the ACLU’s work to ensure the students in the GSA are granted their constitutional right to have this club have been grossly misrepresented by some members of the media. The following addresses some of those lies and what’s really going on in Boyd County.

Misconception: There is a national gay-straight alliance organization behind the Boyd County GSA.

Fact: In California there is a statewide coalition of GSAs and the Gay Lesbian Straight Education Network keeps a national listing of GSAs on its website, but there is no such thing as a national GSA organization. It simply doesn’t exist. The Boyd County GSA was started by students at Boyd County High School who felt there was a need for a club that specifically supported gay students after students were kicked out their homes by their parents because they were gay. The students approached the ACLU for help after the school repeatedly denied their requests to start the club.

Misconception: Allowing the GSA to form and meet would mean that the high school would have to allow an “S&M club” or a “bigamy club” to meet too.

Fact: No students have approached the school asking to form such clubs. To our knowledge, no students at any high school anywhere have ever attempted to form such clubs.

Misconception: The ACLU went after the Boyd County school district because it’s small and easy to pick on.

Fact: The ACLU chooses cases based on whether people’s constitutional rights are being violated, not the size of its opponents.

Misconception: The Boyd County school district superintendent says had no choice but to ban all clubs.

Fact: The school district had several options. It could have simply allowed the GSA to form and meet, which has been done by other GSA clubs at hundreds of schools all over the U.S. without any ill effects. GSAs are, in fact, hailed by many education experts as a vital part of making schools safe for all students. It could have banned only the GSA – which would have been a blatant violation of the federal Equal Access Act. The school instead chose the third and much more extreme option of banning all clubs in order to force out the GSA.

In a letter sent to all parents of Boyd County High School students in November, the school district said that it had done legal research on the issue and concluded that the federal Equal Access Act applied to the GSA. The school district also said that it had approached the Kentucky State Board Insurance Trust to inquire about fighting the GSA in court and it responded that it would not pay for such a lawsuit because the school district would be intentionally disobeying the law.

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