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GSA must be
allowed to meet at Georgia high school

GSA must be
allowed to meet at Georgia high school

White County High School in northeast Georgia must allow students in the local gay-straight alliance club to meet on campus, a federal judge ruled on Friday. "This is a great victory for the lesbian and gay students and their friends at White County High School who will finally be allowed to meet and can begin to address the violence and harassment against gay students at the school," said Beth Littrell, associate legal director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Georgia, which brought the case on behalf of the students in the club. "But it's also a victory for all students who have been shut out of noncurricular school clubs and activities all year by the school's wrongheaded attempts to prevent the GSA."

After reluctantly allowing students at White County High School to form a GSA, the school district took the extraordinary step of purporting to shut down all noncurricular clubs in an effort to prevent the GSA from meeting. The ACLU brought a lawsuit against the school district in February, claiming that the school officials violated the students' rights under the federal Equal Access Act, which requires schools to provide equal treatment to all noncurricular clubs. At a trial in the case the ACLU proved that the school did not shut down all noncurricular clubs but continued to allow several noncurricular clubs to meet.

"This has been the best civics lesson ever," said Kerry Pacer, one of the founders of the GSA, called PRIDE, and The Advocate's Person of the Year for 2005. "I couldn't believe the school was so unfair to us when all we wanted to do was to try to address the violence and harassment against gay students. I'm relieved that the court is going to make the school let us meet."

Federal courts have repeatedly ruled in favor of GSAs where schools tried to block their formation, upholding students' right to form the groups in Salt Lake City; Orange County, Calif.; Franklin Township, Ind.; Boyd County, Ky.; and Osseo, Minn. (The Advocate)

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