Utah students vow to fight for GSA

By Advocate.com Editors

Originally published on Advocate.com June 17 2003 12:00 AM ET

Two Logan High School students in Logan, Utah, are challenging their principal's ruling that
forming a gay-straight alliance at their school would violate district policy. Mark Sailor and Jessica Liddell, who will both be seniors this fall, said they would be willing to go to court if the school district upholds principal Charles Nelson's decision. "We would prefer not to. Our goal is to get this started," Liddell said. "But we feel very committed to having this club, and if that's what we have to do,
that's what we have to do." Nelson told The [Logan] Herald Journal that regardless of the club's intentions, formation of the GSA would be a violation of school policy. After considering a proposal from Sailor and Liddell, he gave the students a list of suggestions for changes to the club name and mission statement that would bring both into line with district policy. "The name itself involves human sexuality," Nelson said. "That is the portion of the policy we are concerned with."

According to a district policy approved in January, "a school shall deny access to any student organization or club whose program or activities would materially and substantially involve human sexuality." Sailor said the intent of the GSA would be to promote tolerance and acceptance, not to focus on sexuality. "The purpose of the gay-straight alliance is to create a safe space where people feel comfortable regardless of sexual orientation," Sailor said. Nelson said he agrees that a club promoting tolerance and awareness of discrimination is very much needed at Logan High. "I am in favor of the club," Nelson said. "This is a club that needs to happen, but the name is going to be an issue."

Even if Nelson approved the club, the school constitution requires the student senate and faculty to vote on it. A majority vote from both groups is required for final approval. Neither the student senate nor the faculty will be meeting again until school is in session this fall. Superintendent Richard Jensen said the district is working with Nelson to review the situation. "Our intent is to look at the federal case law, the state administrative rule, and our school constitution to help us do the right thing in this particular situation, and while this request came in at the end of the school year, we're working in a timely manner," Jensen said.