Middle Schooler trying to Start GSA in Florida
ACLU Gets Involved
Bayli Silberstein, 14, an openly bisexual, is attempting to form a gay-straight alliance at her Carver Middle School in Leesburg, Florida. However, rather than letting her do so, the school board is considering eliminating all non-academic clubs from middle and high school campuses.
Parents, Community Members, and Students Protest
On February 18, 2013, dozens of students, community members, and parents attended a meeting of the Lake County School Board on Monday. In unity with Bayli, they wore read “Standing with Bayli” shirts. They urged the board to allow the gay-straight alliance according to the newspaper the Orlando Sentinel. A decision from the board is not expected until April.
The American Civil Liberties Union
Bayli said her application was denied last school year. She reapplied last November, but didn’t hear from the school’s principal about the status of the application. The school board has not denied Silberstein’s second application. However earlier in February, it drafted a policy that would put an end to any club that is not tied to a specific class. If this policy goes into place, Bayli’s gay-straight alliance club will not form.
The American Civil Liberties Union reported that Silberstein wanted to form the alliance to combat bullying against LGBT students. Bayli’s application cited instances of physical abuse and name calling. Citing the federal Equal Access Act, the ACLU has advised the school district that it cannot pick and choose which clubs to allow based on what they think students should or should not discuss.
Those Opposed to GSA
Some think the real issue is bullying and that students would not get the support they need in a gay-straight alliance. One school board member feels that gay-straight clubs were tantamount to “social engineering.” Just two years ago, a teacher in Lake County told his students that gay men and women should be allowed to openly serve in the military “only if they were sent to the front lines with no weapons.”