Fight for Texas GSA could go to court

By Advocate.com Editors

Originally published on Advocate.com November 19 2002 12:00 AM ET

A request by a gay student group at Lubbock High School in Lubbock, Tex., to post flyers on campus bulletin boards could be headed to court, a member of the group said. "That's one of the options we've discussed with our legal adviser," said Ricky Waite, vice president of Gay and Proud Youth. "We hope it doesn't go to such extremes, but we're not willing to give up." A request to post flyers on school bulletin boards announcing GAP Youth meetings was denied by school officials. During a four-minute presentation at a Lubbock school board meeting Thursday, Waite asked trustees to overturn the district's decision. Board members did not discuss the request, ask questions, or announce a decision. Board president Mark Griffin said the trustees may respond within two weeks.

The Lubbock chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union is working with GAP Youth in its effort to gain the same access as other noncurricular groups. "Any time you deal with the ACLU, you have to know there's a potential legal concern out there," said Jack Clemmons, superintendent of Lubbock schools. The district already has spoken to attorneys about the situation, he said. Clemmons and ACLU board member Harvey Madison discussed the group's request before school officials denied it. GAP Youth will consider court action if the board of trustees backs school administrators, Madison said. "That leaves us without too many options except to go to court, which we would reluctantly do," Clemmons said.

GAP Youth was denied access, Clemmons said, because of student safety concerns. Allowing the group to post flyers could cause a disruption or discipline problem on campus, he said. "If we allowed this group access to the campus, then we would have to turn right around and be faced with an antigay group wanting access to our campus," he said. "We've already heard from some parents; we've heard from some students. We think that would be something that would occur in the future." Griffin also cited safety concerns, particularly the response to the group's posting fliers. Clemmons said the district has considered denying bulletin board access to all noncurricular groups.