Saturday, July 15, 2006

High-School Gay Club Wins Suit

The school can't bar the Gay-Straight Alliance from meeting on campus.
GAINESVILLE, Ga. - A federal judge ruled Friday White County High School cannot deny a student gay rights club equal access or a fair opportunity to conduct meetings on school premises during noninstructional time.

"I think this is a triple victory," said Beth Littrell, an attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union who filed the suit on behalf of Kerry Pacer, a graduate who was present of P.R.I.D.E. (Peers Rising in Diversity Education).

"I think it is obviously a victory for our courageous young plaintiff, it's a win for all students and a win for the principle of equality," Littrell added. "It sends a clear message that school officials can't discriminate against students." Judge rules gay group can use school

Speaking of red meat ... this story has everything.

And don't you love it that this was White County, Georgia?
U.S. District Court Judge William C. O'Kelley also ruled that White County cannot discriminate against student groups on the basis of the religious, political, philosophical or other content of their speech.

"The law was with us and the judge agreed, and interpreted the law as it had been interpreted," Littrell said. "The school did a good job of attempting to circumvent the federal law by dressing clubs up as organizations or faculty-led, basically slapped some lipstick on a pig."

We need to contemplate that language for a few seconds before moving on. Slapping lipstick on a pig. Perfect.
O'Kelley ruled that school officials violated the Federal Equal Access Act during the 2005-2006 school year by barring P.R.I.D.E. from meeting on campus, while allowing other non-curricular clubs to do so.

"I don't have any comment since I haven't had time to read it," said Brian Dorsey, the principal of White County High School.

Yes, very wise. Old Chinese saying: En boca cerrada, no entran moscas.

Reading other stories about this, we learn that P.R.I.D.E. is a gay-straight alliance chapter, and that this fight has been going on for a year and a half. Fred Phelps had brought his "God Hates Fags" church-group down to White County to voice their opposition to the club, and local preachers had told the school board they opposed allowing the club. The principal of the high school made a rule banning all non-academic clubs, leading to lipstick on pig etcetera.

20 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Now the church can have the "God Hates Fags" group
the Democrats can have the "Kids For the KKK" group.
and nambla can have a group to, oh wait, the judge already said they can have a group.

July 16, 2006 1:01 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Fascism = Communism = Politically Correct.

July 16, 2006 5:51 PM  
Blogger Orin Ryssman said...

From the Atlanta Journal-Constitution? (since I did not read this part in the link, I am not sure as to the source of the comment, though I don't doubt it),

U.S. District Court Judge William C. O'Kelley also ruled that White County cannot discriminate against student groups on the basis of the religious, political, philosophical or other content of their speech.

And it is because of this that I think public schools ought to ban ALL non-curricular groups. What is a fascist group of students wants to organize? Heterosexual "pride" group? There are simply far too many potential problems with allowing any off campus group use public schools any more.

July 17, 2006 5:08 AM  
Blogger Orin Ryssman said...

From the Washington Post,

Marching as to War
Former Air Force Officer Mikey Weinstein Zeroes In on Proselytizing in the Military

By Alan Cooperman
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, July 16, 2006; Page D01


it looks like the Secular Jihadi are on the war path again. Here is one of my favorite parts of this
"news" article (it reads more like a press release from this group),

In spite of his pugnacity -- or maybe because of it -- Weinstein has enlisted a growing number of big-name allies.

The guest of honor at the party in Arlington is Joe Wilson, a career diplomat whose criticism of the Bush administration's rationale for war in Iraq led to the unmasking of his wife, Valerie Plame, as a CIA officer and, ultimately, to perjury charges against I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, Vice President Cheney's former chief of staff.

He and Weinstein are natural allies, Wilson explains, "because I'm fighting the neo-cons, and he's fighting the theo-cons."


Now isn't that precious...Wilson is crank and a schill for the Angry Left's attempts at convincing the American voter that the Democratic Party ought to be trusted with majoritarian power (not that the Republican Party either to be perfectly honest, but hey...this is not a perfect world and one must choose the lesser of...oh well, you know the bromide.

July 17, 2006 5:21 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"U.S. District Court Judge William C. O'Kelley also ruled that White County cannot discriminate against student groups on the basis of the religious, political, philosophical or other content of their speech."

Sounds like the Fishback revisions would be thrown out down there too.

July 17, 2006 8:00 AM  
Blogger andrear said...

Anon,
Yawn

Andrea
get those AP scores?

July 17, 2006 2:49 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Anon,
Yawn"

Apparently not boring enough for you to comment on. Now, unless we allow support groups for gay clubs for high schoolers, we're supposed to cancel all extracurricular clubs?

Parents will eventually rise up against this. In Montgomery County.

July 17, 2006 3:24 PM  
Blogger digger said...

Orin said:

"And it is because of this that I think public schools ought to ban ALL non-curricular groups."

Orin

Non-curricular clubs include the chess club, the dance club, the comic-book club, the frisbee club, the diversity club, etc.

Do we want to ban all these clubs? What the district in Georgia apparently did was allow some clubs but not a GSA.

I've never heard of students trying to start a fascist club, or a kkk club, so these are straw men, at least so far. Many schools have Young Democrats and Young Republicans (although the school clubs are not started or run by their respective parties).

It is an itchy subject. The law that allows GSAs when other non-curricular clubs are present (the Equal Access Act) was initiated by the religious right, to allow the establishment of prayer groups in schools. It was considered at the time, and the courts have ruled, that this law allows all student speech (with the limits of maintaining good order).

A more basic question is what free speech rights high school students have. One court ruling said "students do not leave their constitutional rights at the school house door", if I haven't misquoted.

PFOX (www.pfox.org) and Liberty Counsel are promoting the formation of Gay to Straight Clubs for putting forth the ex-gay message. None have been formed to my knowledge.

July 17, 2006 3:30 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"A more basic question is what free speech rights high school students have. One court ruling said "students do not leave their constitutional rights at the school house door", if I haven't misquoted."

Robert

When you think about it, high schoolers don't have the same rights as you and I.

Freedom of Speech

No, they can be suspended for what they say.

Freedom of Press

The principal can stop them from distributing printed inforamtion.

Freedom of Religion

As long as they keep it to themselves in speeches.

Freedom to Bear Arms

Thui starg yerf blepso.

H.A.

July 17, 2006 3:53 PM  
Blogger digger said...

H.A.

High school students have limited free speech rights. Their speech can not interfere with teaching, nor can it interfere with "good order" in the school (i.e. students can not foster a riot). Whether students can engage in speech others perceive as harassing is an open question. Can students engage in speech that the school administration disagrees with? Absolutely.

rrjr

July 17, 2006 5:42 PM  
Blogger Orin Ryssman said...

digger writes (Robert?),

Non-curricular clubs include the chess club, the dance club, the comic-book club, the frisbee club, the diversity club, etc.

Do we want to ban all these clubs? What the district in Georgia apparently did was allow some clubs but not a GSA.


My answer would be yes...every last one of them...even the chess club. First off, it will dramatically reduce an area of litigation. Second, it will send a clear message to the so called Religious Right, as well as the Homosexualist Advocacy groups that the public schools are not going to be anyones playground, and that the focus will be on EDUCATION. Want to have a Bible Study?...organize it outside of school. Want a Chess Club? Fine, just organize it somewhere else...try the Community Room at your local public library. Want a Gay-Straight Alliance? Wonderful...find a local Gay-Lesbian advocacy group and ask them for help in organizing and finding a place to meet.

Especilly with Standards-based testing, the K-12 public schools do not have the luxary of getting sucked into any of these battles.

Unless they have a CURRICULAR purpose, ban them one and all.

July 18, 2006 7:09 AM  
Blogger digger said...

Orin said:

"Unless they have a CURRICULAR purpose, ban them one and all."

Hi Orin.

Yes, digger is Robert (college nickname; stems from a propensity for digging postholes on trailbuilding worktrips).

I think I get your point that schools should focus on education. But (here comes the liberal social engineer in me), schools are more than knowledge factories; they are communities. School is a large part of where kids grow up. That's why we have sports and extra-curricular activities. Kids need that in order to become adults. To be honest, a big reason why some kids come to school is the sports and the activities. It helps students retain some interest in what honestly can become a bit of a grind.

Now to GSAs. They exist legally in many places because of students' free speech and equal protection rights. But they serve a real purpose.

I wouldn't see GSAs as truly fostering the "Gay Agenda'. They really are student run, and 14-18 year-olds have different goals than adults.

First and foremost, they make schools safer. Simply hearing "the Gay-straight alliance will meet in room 120 at 2:20" once a week makes students, even homophobic students (homophobic in the sense of "let's go kick the queer") a little more comfortable around gay youth. Comfort decreases harassment.

They make lgbt youth more comfortable. Having a place to hang out with your friends at your school makes school a more tolerable place for students who can feel very alienated (and who can learn when he's alienated?).

Some GSAs, but only some, educate their schools and faculties about lgbt youth and diversity. Most students in most GSAs aren't interested in that level of action, but GSAs provide a forum for those who are.

I understand your point, Orin, that schools should focus on education rather than social issues or fun activities; I would argue that you can't do the former well without the latter too. Youth have to more than simply students.

I'll give you an example: in the Latin class I'm taking this summer, we take our Latin and our curriculum very seriously; but we also go and eat together, and talk about more than grammar and scansion. The Latin teachers in Fairfax have a Latin teacher's club, which discusses curriculum and teaching methods, but also has feasts and celebrations.

I'm interested in hearing what you think.

rrjr

July 18, 2006 6:31 PM  
Blogger Orin Ryssman said...

Robert writes,

Yes, digger is Robert (college nickname; stems from a propensity for digging postholes on trailbuilding worktrips).

That's nifty...I never really had a nickname that stuck...

I think I get your point that schools should focus on education. But (here comes the liberal social engineer in me), schools are more than knowledge factories; they are communities. School is a large part of where kids grow up. That's why we have sports and extra-curricular activities. Kids need that in order to become adults. To be honest, a big reason why some kids come to school is the sports and the activities. It helps students retain some interest in what honestly can become a bit of a grind.

I see what you are saying...I guess I don't have a problem if (and only IF) it does not create a whole host of problems and issues (legal and political). I guess I would be more inclined towards a generous viewpoint if homosexual advocacy groups did not make it their life mission to legally beat up any public entity that assists the Boy Scouts...tolerance is a two-way street.

Now to GSAs. They exist legally in many places because of students' free speech and equal protection rights. But they serve a real purpose.

I wouldn't see GSAs as truly fostering the "Gay Agenda'. They really are student run, and 14-18 year-olds have different goals than adults.


I don't see the students as fostering any sort of homosexualist agenda, but others I suspect do see GSA's as an opportunity. Though I guess the part I have a problem with the most is that it appears that GSA's encourage "self-labeling", that is students identifying as gay/lesbian while they are yet teenagers. Now here I am thinking not only of my own experience, but of an essay I read, found here,

http://www.firstthings.com/ftissues/ft0506/opinion/scalia.html

(and yes, that is Father Paul Scalia, as in the Catholic Priest that is also the son of that US Sup Ct Justice by the same name). Here is one sentence that really stuck out,

Such categorizations feed into the adolescent penchant for labels.

So, I guess I still have some reservations about this...

First and foremost, they make schools safer. Simply hearing "the Gay-straight alliance will meet in room 120 at 2:20" once a week makes students, even homophobic students (homophobic in the sense of "let's go kick the queer") a little more comfortable around gay youth. Comfort decreases harassment.

I think a safer school environment is created and maintained when administrative staff and teachers clearly communicate a ZERO tolerance for harassment of any kind...period. In addition, this is an opportunity to teach ETHICS to students. I know something of this on a personal level...

They make lgbt youth more comfortable. Having a place to hang out with your friends at your school makes school a more tolerable place for students who can feel very alienated (and who can learn when he's alienated?).

Good point here...it is important to feel connected, like one has a stake in their school.

Some GSAs, but only some, educate their schools and faculties about lgbt youth and diversity. Most students in most GSAs aren't interested in that level of action, but GSAs provide a forum for those who are.

I understand your point, Orin, that schools should focus on education rather than social issues or fun activities; I would argue that you can't do the former well without the latter too. Youth have to more than simply students.


If this can be done without distracting from the educational mission of the school and without multiplying problems created by any number of outside groups (both Left and Right) that only want to disrupt the process, then perhaps I could be persuaded.

I'll give you an example: in the Latin class I'm taking this summer, we take our Latin and our curriculum very seriously; but we also go and eat together, and talk about more than grammar and scansion. The Latin teachers in Fairfax have a Latin teacher's club, which discusses curriculum and teaching methods, but also has feasts and celebrations.

I agree...though to be fair, the above example would not be an issue as it is a club with a direct curricular connection to the educational process.

I'm interested in hearing what you think.

Well, thank you...I hope I have answered some of the questions that have arisen in this conversation. Trust me when I say that I want the burden that possibly gay/lesbian students carry to be eased, not made more burdensome. I am reminded of a student I knew in high school that I now know to have been gay (we were both LDS). Later I heard whispers that he had moved to Hollywood (West?). And then still later, I heard that he had died, and was left with the impression that he had been murdered. Sad, very sad...

July 19, 2006 4:05 AM  
Blogger digger said...

Orin

Thanks for your response. As I said, GSAs are student run, but I suppose there is the potential for someone to exploit them. Schools generally don't permit this; some schools monitor outside speakers for GSAs (probably illegally).

As for the Boy Scouts: I'm a big supporter of the scouts, but I don't think they should receive free privileges from schools that others must pay for, until they allow atheists and lgbt people in their ranks. I'm not sure if the scouts would have to pay for use of Fairfax schools' facilities. My organization does not, usually (we qualify as a youth in-county organization), when do youth events.

My real wish is that the scouts would accept me, not that they not recieve help. I feel in a way that the BSA has been hijacked by the SBC and the LDS..

As for Father Scalia's essay: I've read it, and he's just speculating about things he's never experienced. I have much more direct information about GSAs. The last thing you do at a GSA meeting is ask someone's sexual orientation. GSAs and youth in GSAs don't ask people to self-identify. I certainly never do. GSAs have a real aura of accepting everybody at whatever point they are at. Father Scalia is simply mistaken (and he's echoing PFOX's party line on this). Also, many if not most youth, at least at the stage in life they are at (bad grammar; sorry), don't accept the labels that adults use for themselves, and reject the idea of labelling altogether.

Always good talking to you, Orin.

Back to Ovid and Vergil.

Robert

July 19, 2006 1:02 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Back to Ovid and Vergil."

Try Cato.

July 19, 2006 4:53 PM  
Blogger digger said...

Cato Censor or Cato Uticensis?

rrjr

July 19, 2006 5:35 PM  
Blogger digger said...

Orin said:

"Trust me when I say that I want the burden that possibly gay/lesbian students carry to be eased, not made more burdensome."

I just reread this. God bless you, Orin.

rrjr

July 19, 2006 9:15 PM  
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