A Tennessee school board meeting Monday night saw emotional comments from both supporters and opponents of a gay-straight alliance, but the GSA will continue to meet, the district’s top administrator said.
The formation of the GSA at Franklin County High School in Winchester has been controversial, with some parents saying such clubs shouldn’t exist on campus, and one even saying that allowing the GSA would leave the door open for groups like “Future ISIS Members of America.”
But while the Franklin County School Board will reconsider its policy on student organizations, any changes in the policy would not be retroactive, so the GSA is safe, Amie Lonas, the county schools director, told the Murfreesboro, Tenn., Daily News Journal after the meeting.
She had said earlier that organizers went through proper procedures in forming the GSA last December, and pointed out that federal law requires campus access for clubs dealing with a wide variety of topics.
However, some parents said sexuality, at least gay sexuality, is one topic that doesn’t belong in school. “I’m not going to stand for my children to be [subjected] to homosexuality in the school system,” parent Robert Widelick said at the meeting, according to the Daily News Journal.
The GSA’s supporters and schools director Lonas have countered that the club isn’t sexual in nature. “It’s not necessarily talking about sexuality,” Lonas told Huntsville, Ala., TV station WAFF. “It’s more about being accepting of others and the differences that we all have.”
Freshman Kevin Hamrick, a member of the GSA, said the group is needed. “Our community demeans the LGBT community so much that there has to be something to stop it,” he said Monday night.
He also told board members, “You can take us down. You can take our signs down. You can take the tears out of our eyes. But we still have a legal right to keep meeting.”