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Judge asks ACLU to draft school club policy

Judge asks ACLU to draft school club policy

A federal judge has asked the American Civil Liberties Union to propose a school club policy for an eastern Kentucky school system that banned a gay-straight alliance group. Lawyers for the Boyd County school district and the ACLU were expected to discuss the proposal and other matters in a telephone conference call on Monday, The [Louisville] Courier-Journal reported. The ACLU sued the district on behalf of the Gay-Straight Alliance at Boyd County High School, after the alliance was barred from meeting at the Cannonsburg school. A policy--which could serve as a model for other Kentucky schools--would amount to rules under which groups such as a French club, a chess club, and other student organizations could meet at school. In October the high school's teacher-parent council voted 3-2 to let the alliance meet at the school. But in December, following protests, the Boyd County school board banned all noncurricular clubs from meeting to quell the controversy. The ACLU sued the school district in January on behalf of the alliance, seven of its members and their parents, and Kaye King, a high school English teacher serving as the group's adviser. The suit argued that the ban violated the constitutional free-speech rights of alliance members as well as the federal Equal Access Act, which prohibits schools from barring student groups from using school facilities based on the religious, philosophical, or political viewpoint of the groups if schools allow one such group to use school facilities. U.S. district judge David L. Bunning agreed with that argument in April and ordered the high school to allow the club to meet. At a May 21 pretrial conference in Ashland, school district lawyers asked that the ACLU draft a club policy for review by school officials. Bunning agreed and ordered the ACLU to draft a policy within 10 days. Bunning referred the case to U.S. magistrate judge Peggy Patterson for mediation.

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