One of the most valuable and interesting trends of the last decade has been the formation of Gay/Straight Alliances in high schools around the country. I think it’s valuable because, obviously, I think it’s very important for straight people to stand side by side with our gay friends and fight for their rights. We should not treat the issue as just their problem; it is our problem as well. But naturally, the religious right is absolutely appalled by such clubs and want them gone. And in some cases, they’re winning.
At South Rowan High School, near Charlotte, NC, Flip Benham’s group Operation Save America jumped into action when a GSA was forming at that school, got some 700 people to show up at the school board meeting and get them to ban the club from the school. In doing so, they violated the Equal Access Act – the very same act that protects the right of prayer groups and bible clubs to form in public schools. But it seems that the religious right wants only their views to be expressed in such clubs, no one else’s.
And boy, the school board meeting sounded like a load of fun, with one ignorant yokel after another getting up to make stupid statements like this one:
Carl Ford, who has been an active supporter of the high school, said sodomy was illegal in North Carolina, so a Gay/Straight Alliance shouldn’t exist.
Uh, no, Mr. Ford. Sodomy is not illegal in North Carolina. Hasn’t been since 2003, when the Supreme Court struck down sodomy laws as unconstitutional. Besides that, I’m sure there’s a whole lot of sodomy going on in North Carolina, and has been for as long as there’s been a North Carolina. And it sounds like they got a good old-fashioned mob mentality of ignorance going on at the meeting:
Other speakers, including preachers from Landis, Kannapolis and Concord, parents and grandparents, lashed out against the alliance, often to spirited applause and shouts of approval.
Two speakers, who delivered brief opinions near the end of the public comment period, were in favor of allowing the group.
“I, too, am here to speak for our children,” said Mike Clawson, president of the Salisbury-Rowan chapter of Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays.
Homosexual students “are like everybody else’s children, and they deserve the same rights as everybody else. The bottom line is, it’s the law.”
The crowd booed Clawson as he left the microphone.
Yeah, this man must be booed! He actually suggested that gay kids have the same rights as straight kids! How dare he say that! What’s next, liberty and justice for all? This simply will not do. Boo him!
It also appears that the board knew it was violating the Equal Access Act when they voted, 7-0, to ban the club:
During their discussion of the issue, board members fought off comments from the crowd and listened intently to Sayers, who explained the Equal Access Act of 1984.
The law says that if any non-curricular club is allowed to meet, all must be, as long as they meet voluntarily, are student-initiated, not school-sponsored, and are not materially or substantially disruptive of school activities.
When board members asked South’s principal, Dr. Ron Turbyfill, whether the club was disruptive, he said he did not consider it to be.
“If your measure of disruptiveness is whether or not we are able to conduct classes, it is not,” he said, adding that classes have gone on every day as usual.
Kay Wright Norman said the board should define “disruptive” before adding the clause about it to their ban, but Shuping said it was up to the board to interpret that.
A lawsuit is being prepared to challenge the school board’s decision. And I’m going to make this prediction: the school board is going to lose and it’s going to lose badly. In fact, I predict that the case will result in summary judgement for the plaintiffs and that will be upheld on appeal. This one isn’t even close, nor should it be.