Agreement reached on gay club at Ga. public school

By The Associated Press
01.13.07

CLEVELAND, Ga. — White County school officials and the American Civil Liberties Union have reached a settlement in a lawsuit over a student gay-rights club, the ACLU said Jan. 10.

The ACLU filed suit after the Peers Rising in Diverse Education (PRIDE) group was not allowed to meet on the campus of White County High School in the 2005-2006 school year.

U.S. District Judge William C. O'Kelley of Gainesville ruled in July that the high school violated the federal Equal Access Act by barring PRIDE from meeting on campus while allowing other non-curricular clubs to do so.

O'Kelley's decision also says White County cannot discriminate against student groups on the basis of the religious, political, philosophical or other content of their speech.

Under the agreement, policies for grades 9-12 "make it clear that harassment against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender students is not permitted on campus," the ACLU said.

"The school also has agreed to provide faculty with annual training session on how to deal with and prevent anti-gay harassment," the rights group said in a statement issued from its offices in Atlanta.

White County School Superintendent Paul A. Shaw's office referred questions to school attorney Phil Hartley of Gainesville. A call to Hartley's office was not returned.