Federal judge backs Indiana GSA

By Advocate.com Editors

Originally published on Advocate.com September 07 2002 12:00 AM ET

A federal judge in Indianapolis has ruled that high school administrators acted improperly in blocking students from forming a gay-straight alliance as an official club.

The attempt in 2001 to form the club at Franklin Central High School was led by Amy Obermeyer, who was then a junior and has since graduated. At the time of Obermeyer's application, school officials suggested that the group's name be changed to the Diversity Club instead and include a range of minority students, such as those who are overweight.
"[The students] wanted to create a safe space for gay and lesbian students," said Sean Lemieux, lawyer for the Indiana Civil Liberties Union, which filed the lawsuit in October. "The school wanted to dilute that message."

Nineteen students asked to form the group, and school officials expressed concern that gay members of the club would be singled out as targets. The school later stated that the group was denied permission to meet because Obermeyer did not follow proper procedure and her club sponsorship form was not filled out entirely by her faculty sponsor.

Despite the federal court ruling, school officials said Thursday that the students interested in forming the club had graduated and that no one wants to start one anymore. School officials have also vowed to appeal the decision.

"We are going to appeal based on the fact that no one has asked for a club of any kind like that this year," district Superintendent E.B. Carver said. "It's not an issue this year."