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Fla. students sue school board that won't allow gay-straight club

By The Associated Press
02.12.09

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Two Florida high school students have sued their school board because they were not allowed to form a club that promotes the tolerance of gays.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Florida filed the suit on Feb. 10 in federal court on behalf of Yulee High School students Hannah Page, a freshman, and Jacob Brock, a junior.

The lawsuit claims violations of the First Amendment and the Federal Equal Access Act. The act requires schools to grant access and recognition to a Gay-Straight Alliance and other groups if the school allows any extracurricular group to meet on campus, said ACLU attorney Robert F. Rosenwald.

The lawsuit seeks a preliminary injunction to allow the club to meet at Yulee High while the case makes it way to trial.

Page says the group wants to meet like others do.

"We just want the club so that straight and gay kids can get together to talk about harassment and discrimination against gay kids in an open environment. The school is discriminating against us and that's exactly the kind of thing we want to prevent," she said.

John L. Ruis, the school district's superintendent, said in a letter to Rosenwald that "a club highlighting sexual orientations will not be permitted as it would violate school board policy." The Nassau County School Board was served with the lawsuit.

The ACLU recently won a similar case in Okeechobee. A judge there ruled schools must provide for the well-being of gay students and cannot discriminate against the Gay-Straight Alliance.

Rosenwald said the Okeechobee County School Board paid $326,000 in attorneys fees in that case.

Yulee is about 25 miles north of Jacksonville.


Related

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

In letter explaining his decision to leave high school, Eddie Walker says allowing Gay-Straight Alliance on campus would conflict with his professional beliefs and religious convictions. 05.22.08

Gay-straight club can meet at Fla. high school

Federal judge finds Okeechobee County school board violated students' First Amendment, equal-access rights. 07.31.08

Students trying to form clubs have free speech, law on their side
By Charles C. Haynes School administrators in Colorado, Texas prove attacks on First Amendment can come from both ends of the ideological spectrum. 02.02.03

Clubs

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