Appeal in lawsuit over school district preventing students from establishing anti-bullying club argues that denying the students’ right to establish the club on campus violates federal law

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – October 27, 2015
CONTACT: ACLU of Florida Media Office,, (786) 363-2737

MIAMI, FL – The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Florida has filed its brief with the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals in a lawsuit defending a group of students at Carver Middle School in Lake County, Florida and their right to establish a Gay-Straight Alliance (GSA) club on campus.

The lawsuit was filed by the ACLU of Florida in December 2013 after repeated actions taken by school administrators to prevent the club from being established. The ACLU now seeks review by the 11thCircuit Court of Appeals of a decision earlier this year by U.S. District Judge William Terrell Hodges stating that the denial of the club did not violate the students’ rights.

“GSAs exist in middle schools across the country, including in Florida, and students at Carver have the right to establish one,” stated Daniel Tilley, ACLU of Florida Staff for LGBT Rights. “These young people are determined to make their school a safer and more welcoming place, and we will continue to stand by their side in that effort.”

GSAs are student organizations made up of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) students and their allies that advocate for an end to bullying, harassment, and discrimination against all students. LGBT students are far more likely than their fellow students to face harassment and discrimination in schools. LGBT students in schools with GSAs are significantly less likely to experience victimization related to their sexual orientation and gender expression, and are less likely to feel unsafe, than students without access to a GSA.

In the brief filed today at the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals, attorneys for the ACLU of Florida and the ACLU’s LGBT Project argue that the federal Equal Access Act, which guarantees certain rights to students in secondary schools, should apply to the students seeking to establish a GSA at Carver Middle School. The brief also requests oral arguments in the case.

A copy of the brief filed today is available here: