New York, NY – April 13, 2006 – GLSEN, or the Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network, expressed their grave concern over Rowan Salisbury School Board’s recent decision to prevent the formation of a Gay-Straight Alliance (GSA) at South Rowan High School in Rowan, North Carolina.
In a unanimous decision on April 11th, the school board voted to block the formation of South Rowan High School’s newly established GSA. This decision comes less than a month after the board affirmed the legal rights of the GSA to form and may be a result of organized efforts by an outside organization to mischaracterize and misrepresent the work of GLSEN and GSAs.
“It is deeply disappointing that the Rowan Salisbury School Board would succumb to outside pressures in order to prevent these brave young people from addressing the real problem of anti-LGBT harassment at their school,” said North Carolina native and Founder and Executive Director of GLSEN, Kevin Jennings. “As educators and school board officials they are obligated to protect all students.”
In similar attempts to block GSAs around the country, the courts have found that the Federal Equal Access Act requires schools to treat student clubs that address lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) issues the same as other student groups. More than 3,000 GSAs and similar clubs are registered with GLSEN, including more than 50 throughout North Carolina.
According to From Teasing to Torment: School Climate in America, a recent report on student’s perceptions of bullying in schools, actual or perceived sexual orientation and gender expression were among the top three most common reasons for harassment in schools across the country.
In addition GLSEN’s 2003 National School Climate Survey, a biennial survey that documents the experiences of LGBT students in our nation’s schools, found that student clubs commonly known as GSAs help LGBT students feel safer in schools. LGBT students also have a greater sense of belonging at school when GSAs are present.
“Gay-Straight Alliances are critical to ensuring the safety of LGBT students and their allies,” said Mr. Jennings. “It is deeply saddening that the school board chose to prevent student leadership on an issue of imminent consequence for schools in Rowan and around the country.”
GLSEN, or the Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network, is the leading national education organization focused on ensuring safe schools for ALL students. Established nationally in 1995, GLSEN envisions a world in which every child learns to respect and accept all people, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity/expression. For more information on GLSEN’s educational resources, public policy and public education work, student organizing programs, research or development initiatives, continue to visit www.glsen.org.