NEW YORK, Nov. 16, 2006
Ė In yet another example of a school potentially putting anti-LGBT bias ahead of an enriching and safe school climate, an Okeechobee High School student is suing her school for not allowing a Gay-Straight Alliance to meet on campus.
The Federal Equal Access Act requires schools to allow every co-curricular student club to meet on campus. Currently, according to the studentís complaint filed by the American Civil Liberties Union, the school allows co-curricular clubs such as the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, Future Farmers of America, and the Latin Club, among others, to meet on campus.
"Itís disheartening that the administration of Okeechobee High School would choose to deny access to a club that teaches respect and tolerance," said GLSEN Founder and Executive Director Kevin Jennings. "The reality is when Gay-Straight Alliances are formed on campus, all students benefit."
GSAs provide a safe space for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) students and their straight allies to promote respect and tolerance and address anti-LGBT bullying and harassment in schools. The presence of a GSA relates to reduced absenteeism, better academic performance and a greater sense of belonging at their school for students. According to GLSENís 2005 National School Climate Survey, which documented the experiences of LGBT students in school:
LGBT students whose school had a GSA were less likely to miss school because they felt unsafe compared to other students. About a third of students whose school has no GSA missed at least one day of school in the past month (32.0%) compared to a quarter of students whose school had a GSA (25.5%).
LGBT students whose school had a GSA reported higher levels of school belonging than students whose school did not.
More than 3,000 GSAs have registered with GLSEN, including more than 100 in Florida. GLSEN provides a place for students to register their GSAs and receive support and resources.
GLSEN, or the Gay, Lesbian and 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 GLSENís educational resources, public policy agenda, student organizing programs, research, public education or development initiatives, visit www.glsen.org.