ACLU Condemns School Board for Blocking Gay-Straight Club at a Southern California High School

December 8, 1999 12:00 am

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LOS ANGELES — The ACLU of Southern California today condemned the Board of Education of the Orange Unified School District for refusing to allow the creation of a Gay-Straight Alliance Club at El Modena High School.

“The school board’s disingenuous attempt to couch this as a sex education or curriculum issue has no merit,” said ACLU Associate Director Elizabeth Schroeder. “The district will not succeed in its efforts to pick and choose which student clubs to fund.”

“The board should be spending taxpayers’ money on educating students, not on fighting lawsuits that they know they will lose,” she added.

By denying the formation of the Gay-Straight Alliance, the board is in clear violation of the freedoms of expression and association that are guaranteed by the First Amendment of the United States Constitution and by parallel articles in the California Constitution, the ACLU said.

The board’s refusal could also have a significant impact on the district’s eligibility for federal education funds under a statute that prohibits public schools from discriminating against student clubs on the basis of a club’s philosophical or political viewpoint.

“School systems should make public commitments to ensure that schools are safe places, free of discrimination, violence, and harassment for all students, including gay and lesbian youth,” Schroeder said. “Fear, isolation and loneliness lead many gay and lesbian teens to suicide. The creation of this club would give these students a life-saving support system.”

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