Lambda Legal and Idaho Safe Schools Applaud Changes to School District’s Student Club Policy
(Meridian, ID, October 26, 2011) - Lambda Legal and the Idaho Safe Schools Coalition today applauded a Boise-area school district for approving a student club policy that eliminated a new requirement that students get parental permission to participate in clubs and other restrictions that would have harmed lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) students and violated their rights.
In late 2010, students at Mountain View High School, which is part of Joint School District No. 2 in Meridian, Idaho, attempted to form a Gay-Straight Alliance (GSA). In January 2011, the Board deferred action on the GSA's application and then, over the summer, proposed a new student club policy. In August, Lambda Legal and the Idaho Safe Schools Coalition sent a letter to the District urging the Board to reject the proposed policy, which (1) required students to obtain parental permission to join a club, (2) prohibited any club that would "advocate or approve sexual activity outside of marriage," and (3) exempted favored clubs from the new rules. The letter explained that the advocacy restriction unlawfully censored student speech and was unrelated to the GSA's purpose, and the Board removed it. In addition, after hearing student testimony at a September meeting about the barriers that the proposed policy would create for LGBT youth, the Board removed the new requirement of parental permission and the exemption for favored clubs. The Board approved the revised policy last night.
"We hope that it is crystal clear to students that they can form Gay-Straight Alliances without unlawful barriers standing in their way. We applaud the District for doing the right thing by dropping the introduction of novel requirements, like parental permission for joining a club, that would have undermined the ability of LGBT students to protect themselves and others from hostility and violence. Other schools should take note," Lambda Legal Staff Attorney Peter Renn said.
"The safety and well-being of LGBT students, who are often targeted for bullying, must come first. We commend the District for recognizing that," said Krista Perry, Co-Chair of the Idaho Safe Schools Coalition.
A copy of the Lambda Legal and Idaho Safe Schools Coalition letter that prompted revisions to the proposed policy can be found here.
Press contact: Tom Warnke, Cell: 213-841-4503: Email: [email protected]
Lambda Legal is a national organization committed to achieving full recognition of the civil rights of lesbians, gay men, bisexuals, transgender people and those with HIV through impact litigation, education and public policy work.
The Idaho Safe Schools Coalition is a statewide organization devoted to helping Idaho schools become safe places for students, families, and educators, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity.