ACLU proposes policy for school clubs

BY Advocate.com Editors

June 05 2003 12:00 AM ET

A lawyer for Kentucky's Boyd County board of education is reviewing a policy proposed by the American Civil Liberties Union that would allow a gay-straight group to continue to meet at Boyd County High School. The ACLU sued the school district on behalf of the Gay-Straight Alliance after the alliance was barred from meeting at the school. U.S. district judge David Bunning asked the ACLU to draft a policy as part of settlement negotiations in the lawsuit.

The ACLU's proposal specifically addresses equal access for the club and clearly defines curricular and noncurricular clubs, said ACLU spokesman Chris Hampton. The proposal also outlines how schools can comply with the federal Equal Access Act, Hampton said.

The ACLU rejected a proposal drafted by the district, according to school board president Sheri Bryan. Bryan said the ACLU did not tell the board why it found the proposal unacceptable. She said the district's proposal specifically provided for the alliance to meet at the high school.

Winter Huff, an attorney for the school board, attended the board meeting on Monday night and discussed the ACLU's proposal with board members. Huff said no action was taken by the board. "We have just started the review process," Huff said. "We haven't had time to look at it with any great depth." The board will meet again on June 16. Huff said the board is aiming for a July 1 deadline to have a new policy in place governing student activities: "We're trying to find something that will accommodate the interests of the school district and the students, not only those involved with the Gay-Straight Alliance but also those involved in any activities, curricular and noncurricular. Obviously, we want to comply with the court's directive, and we want to maintain a secure environment with a focus on education."

Twice last year the high school's teacher-parent council denied the gay-straight group permission to meet on school grounds. The ACLU sent a letter to the council saying that under federal law, the alliance must be allowed to use school facilities if other noncurricular groups have access. Last October the council voted to let the group meet at school. But in December the education board suspended all noncurricular clubs. The ACLU filed its lawsuit in January. In April, Bunning ordered the district to let the students meet while the suit is pending

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