ACLU to Appeal Decision in Federal Lawsuit over Lake County, Florida Middle School Gay-Straight Alliance

Affiliate: ACLU of Florida
September 17, 2015 1:00 pm

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MIAMI, FL – The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Florida has filed a notice with a federal district court that it will continue the legal fight over Lake County, Florida school officials’ refusal to allow students at Carver Middle School to form a Gay-Straight Alliance (GSA) club on campus.

The appeal comes in a lawsuit filed by the ACLU of Florida in December 2013 on behalf of a group of students at Carver Middle School challenging the Lake County School Board’s refusal to allow the club to form. It was the second lawsuit filed in less than a year challenging efforts by Lake County school administrators to thwart students’ attempts to establish the GSA.

The club seeks review by the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals of a decision by U.S. District Judge William Terrell Hodges stating that the denial of the club did not violate the students’ rights.

“This effort is far from over,” stated ACLU of Florida LGBT rights staff attorney Daniel Tilley. “For years, these students have been trying to show the grown-ups at Lake County Schools that there is a bullying problem at Carver Middle School and that they have a solution. GSAs exist in schools all across Florida, and students at Carver have a right to establish one and have it be treated the same as any other student club. These young people are determined to have their club recognized and make their school a safer and more welcoming place, and we are determined to stand by them in that effort.”

GSAs are student organizations made up of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) students and their allies that advocate for an end to bullying, harassment, and discrimination against all students. LGBT students are far more likely than their fellow students to face harassment and discrimination in schools. LGBT students in schools with GSAs are significantly less likely to experience victimization related to their sexual orientation and gender expression, and are less likely to feel unsafe, than students without access a GSA.

In the lawsuit, attorneys for the ACLU of Florida and the ACLU’s LGBT Project argue that the Lake County School Board’s efforts to stop the GSA from being formed violate federal law.

A copy of the notice of appeal is available here:

More information about the lawsuit, including a link to the original December 2013 complaint, is available here:

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