Gay-Straight Student Clubs Are Recognized

By Mark Walsh — September 13, 2000 1 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

A California school district has agreed to a legal settlement recognizing a gay-straight student club rather than continue a public battle that had divided the community for the past year.

The school board in Orange, Calif., was scheduled to vote late last week on policy changes that would make the settlement effective and allow the Gay-Straight Alliance Club at El Modena High School to have the same privileges as other student clubs.

Meanwhile, the Salt Lake City school board voted last week to end a ban on nonacademic clubs at its three high schools that was enacted four years ago to quash the formation of a gay-straight student group.

In the 31,000-student Orange district south of Los Angeles, members of the proposed gay-straight club sued after the school board voted 7-0 last December to deny the group’s application for club status. Some board members said they were morally opposed to the group.

In February, a federal judge held that the board’s action violated the federal Equal Access Act, which requires schools receiving federal funds to treat all non-curriculum-related clubs equally.

Sending a Message

The settlement, which the school board voted 5-2 to accept, guarantees that the Gay-Straight Alliance can meet at El Modena High under its preferred name and requires that it not be singled out for special regulation.

“These students have sent a message to school districts across the nation,” said Myron Dean Quon, a lawyer in Los Angeles for the Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund, a gay-rights group that represented the club. “If students want to form a club on campus, there can’t be discrimination against them based on their sexual orientation or who they want to associate with.”

Board members were to vote Sept. 7 on rules that would bar all clubs from discussing sexual activities and would give parents an opportunity to keep their children from joining specific clubs.

In Salt Lake City, the school board’s 6-1 vote on Sept. 5 to reinstate nonacademic clubs came after parents and students said they were missing out on opportunities for after-school activities, said John Robson, the lawyer for the 25,600-student district.

A gay-straight club would be allowed under the new policy as long as it complied with state law, which restricts discussions of sex in schools, he said.


School & District Management K-12 Essentials Forum Get a Strong Start to the New School Year
Get insights and actions from Education Week journalists and expert guests on how to start the new school year on strong footing.
Reading & Literacy Webinar A Roadmap to Multisensory Early Literacy Instruction: Accelerate Growth for All Students 
How can you develop key literacy skills with a diverse range of learners? Explore best practices and tips to meet the needs of all students. 
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
College & Workforce Readiness Webinar
Supporting 21st Century Skills with a Whole-Child Focus
What skills do students need to succeed in the 21st century? Explore the latest strategies to best prepare students for college, career, and life.
Content provided by Panorama Education

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

Education Briefly Stated: July 13, 2022
Here's a look at some recent Education Week articles you may have missed.
9 min read
Education Briefly Stated: June 15, 2022
Here's a look at some recent Education Week articles you may have missed.
8 min read
Education Briefly Stated: June 8, 2022
Here's a look at some recent Education Week articles you may have missed.
8 min read
Education Briefly Stated: June 1, 2022
Here's a look at some recent Education Week articles you may have missed.
8 min read