By Jessie Burchette
Sex-based clubs — including the Gay/Straight Alliance at South Rowan High School — are now banned in the Rowan-Salisbury School System.
Without comment, the Rowan-Salisbury Board of Education voted unanimously Monday night to approve an amendment to the school's extracurricular activities policy banning sex-based student clubs.
Board member Jim Shuping read aloud the complete text of the amendment. The policy uses the system's existing abstinence-only sex education policy as the basis for the ban.
In April, the board agreed to ban clubs such as the Gay/ Straight Alliance, voting to instruct the staff and attorneys to develop a policy.
The club at South Rowan, which sparked the controversy, had continued to function through the end of the school year.
The board waived its usual requirement of two readings for policy adoptions, allowing the policy to be in effect when school opens next week.
The policy became effective upon adoption.
Board Chairman Bryce Beard said later that the new policy has been thoroughly reviewed by attorneys. He expressed confidence it can withstand a legal challenge.
That challenge might be coming soon.
"We have concerns that the policy ... is illegal," said Jennifer Rudinger, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union's Raleigh office. "When a school allows extracurricular clubs, it's all or nothing. They can't discriminate ... They can't pick and choose." Rudinger cited the 1984 federal Equal Access law.
Rudinger said she is not aware of any county or city school district that has a policy similar to the one adopted by the Rowan-Salisbury school board.
"It's absolutely misnamed to call it a sex-based club. It's inappropriate," said Rudinger who has been in contact with students and parents of the South Rowan club. "These kids want to create a safe environment, to foster tolerance and acceptance. It's inappropriate and factually wrong to call them some kind of sex-based club. It's really a shame."
Rudinger noted that the ACLU has successfully represented students who wanted to have a Bible club at schools and were initially banned. She said the same law protects the Gay/Straight Alliance.
Mike Clawson, president of the Salisbury-Rowan Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbian and Gays, also cited the Equal Access Act in an e-mail to the Post. "Simply put, the school cannot ban a Gay/Straight Alliance based on issues of morality if the Gay/Straight Alliance does not interfere with the orderly conduct of educational activities."
Unlike previous school board meetings where the issue was on the agenda, the issue drew no public comment on Monday night.
©2006, The Salisbury Post
Thursday, August 17, 2006
Clueless homophobes in North Carolina banned a high school Gay/Straight Alliance Club based on the notion that it's a "sex-based" club. Clue card for homophobes: GSAs are not SEX-based. They are based on gay kids finding straight allies who will help them not get the crap beaten out of them by the children of the School Board members.