Gay Issues

Gay-Straight Alliance Clubs Opposed in Public Schools

| by Jerome McCollom

Gay-Straight Alliance clubs are school student clubs that support the rights of gay students in schools and fight homophobia. They have not only gay students but -- as their name states -- non-gay supporters. They are, unfortunately (along with atheism clubs), strongly opposed by the religious right in school districts.

School administrators, who are supposed to be impartial, often aren't. There is, of course, a legal way for them to be disallowed, but that would mean a ban on any student club not directly related to academics, and school administrators on the religious right usually don't want to see Christian clubs also banned in the process.

I, by the way, fully support the rights of Christians to form student clubs. Indeed, school officials who are progressives also strongly supports those rights, because Christian student clubs don't face the constant harassment and opposition that gay and atheist clubs receive.

In West Bend, WI, students wished to form a Gay-Straight Alliance. I am sure you can guess where I am going with this. Yes, they were denied official status by school officials. So, they exercised their rights to be treated equally by the government (school officials being of course agents of the government) and have sued in federal court.

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This judge looked an inmate square in the eyes and did something that left the entire courtroom in tears:

Good for them. What comes from being a sanctioned club? Well, simple things like the ability to raise funds and even be in the school yearbook. Heck, even using the public address system. Why were such minor things denied them in the past and up to the present day? Well, it is simply a belief still all too frequent in our society where being gay is thought of as being diseased. Even possessed in some way by a mythical devil. 13th Century beliefs still exercise authority over society. No, we no longer burn people at the stake but we aren't that far away from that time.

By the way, this GSA club in West Bend has been denied official status since 2002. That means the oldest students trying to get that status now, were in the third grade when this effort started. The youngest were in Kindergarten. In West Bend there was an attempt to ban the book "Heather has Two Mommies" in the West Bend community library, the book Heather has two mommies. Yes, a children's book is considered such a threat by the religious right.

I can see their desperation though. Americans are supporting gay rights at higher and higher numbers. Polls this year show majority support by Americans when it comes to same sex marriage. In 2060 we as a society will look back at opposition to gay rights the exact same way that we look back at opposition to interracial marriages. So, the question is, how do we want to look to our grandchildren? Those on the right side of history, or those who weren't?