S.C. principal to resign after gay club approved for school

By The Associated Press

COLUMBIA, S.C. — The principal of a South Carolina high school plans to resign rather than share his campus with an organization for gay students.

Irmo High School Principal Eddie Walker confirmed yesterday to the Associated Press that he is stepping down at the end of the 2008-09 school year. Walker said he gave his reasons in a letter sent to teachers and others, and he refused to talk about the issue further.

In a copy of the letter obtained by WIS-TV in Columbia, Walker said allowing the Gay-Straight Alliance on campus would conflict with his professional beliefs and religious convictions because there are no other clubs on campus based on sexual preference or activity and the school teaches abstinence-based sex education.

“I feel the formation of a Gay/Straight Alliance Club at Irmo High school implies that students joining the club will have chosen to or will choose to engage in sexual activity with members of the same sex, opposite sex, or members of both sexes,” wrote Walker, who said he prayed about the issue before deciding to step down.

In the letter, Walker wrote he wanted to resign at the end of this school year, but he felt that by doing so, he would break the trust of students and teachers who were already planning on him to come back. Walker would not release the note to AP.

Lexington-Richland School District 5 couldn’t stop the club from forming because federal law prohibits discriminating against a club based on its purpose, spokeswoman Michelle Foster said. The district would have had to ban all clubs from campus or face a lawsuit it would likely lose if it kept the club from the school, Foster said.

Gay-rights group Faith in America said Walker’s decision is based on prejudice that is harmful to students and likened his decision to policies that once allowed segregation to flourish.

“We truly believe it is unfortunate that this principal cannot see the immense harm that is caused when a social climate of rejection, condemnation and violence is justified with misguided religious belief,” said Brent Childers, executive director of the group.