A school district in central Mississippi is pulling out all the stops in an attempt to prevent students from creating a gay-straight alliance on campus, The Clarion-Ledger reports:
[Rankin County Superintendent Lynn] Weathersby (pictured right) brought up the issue at Wednesday's school board meeting, making clear his intentions to limit such organizations in Rankin County schools.
"I talked to (board attorney) Freddie (Harrell) and several administrators about what we could legally do to limit organizations like that on campus that we don't want to endorse and don't want," Weathersby said.
Although school board members and officials said they were not aware of any attempt to form a club in the district, Brandon High School theatre teacher Janice Weaver said she was approached by a student in December who expressed a desire to create a gay-straight alliance (GSA), or a student-led, student-organized club aimed at combating anti-gay discrimination and bullying in schools. Weaver said the student submitted the proposal for the club to school administrators.
At the meeting, Weathersby said the best way to stop the "gay club" would be to require parents to sign a consent form allowing their children to participate in the club.
The paper continues:
School board attorney Freddie Harrell echoed Weathersby, saying a gay club might violate educational standards and principles adopted by the school district such as abstinence-only sexual education.
Newly appointed board member Ira Singleton asked Harrell what would happen if parents did consent to their children participating in such a club. Harrell responded that at that time, it would be up to the school's principal to decide whether the club meets school requirements.
In a statement, HRC Mississippi State Director Rob Hill blasted the district's actions, saying:
“The policy sends a harmful message to LGBT students in Rankin County that they are not welcomed within their classrooms, at school functions or on the bus. The board’s actions tell LGBT students that they should be ashamed of who they are and that their lives are valued less than their peers. Keeping our children safe is critical. We demand the Superintendent, and the board, reverse its decision to publicly humiliate, degrade and embarrass young LGBT people."
The ACLU of Mississippi, meanwhile, has already sent a letter to Weathersby letting him know that the district could land in legal hot water if students are blocked from forming GSA clubs. You can read the letter below: