Hearing today in Ocala on ACLU’s motion for court to end Lake County School Board’s effort to block anti-bullying club

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: February 10, 2014
CONTACT: ACLU of Florida Media Office, (786) 363 – 2737 media@aclufl.org

OCALA, FL – Today, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Florida made oral arguments before a federal judge calling for an end to the Lake County School Board’s efforts to block a group of students at Carver Middle School from creating a gay-straight alliance (GSA). In a hearing today on the ACLU’s motion for preliminary injunction, the organization argued that the school board had violated the rights of the middle school students who were trying to establish the club to combat bullying at their school.

The lawsuit, brought on behalf of a group of students led by 12-year-old Hannah Faughnan, is the second lawsuit in less than a year brought on behalf of students attempting to create a GSA at Carver Middle School. GSAs are student organizations made up of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) students and their straight allies that advocate for an end to bullying, harassment, and discrimination against all students. LGBT students in schools with GSAs are significantly less likely to experience victimization related to their sexual orientation and gender expression, and less likely to feel unsafe because of their sexual orientation than students without a GSA.

Following today’s hearing, ACLU of Florida LGBT Rights Staff Attorney, Daniel Tilley, stated:

“We were glad to have this opportunity to go before the court and explain why the district’s continued efforts to keep these students from establishing a GSA to combat bullying at Carver Middle School is a violation of their rights. The school board argued in its briefs that the federal Equal Access Act doesn’t apply to students in Florida’s middle schools, and that the GSA constitutes ‘sexual’ ‘advocacy’. It’s disappointing, given that Hannah and her friends joined the GSA to help stop bullying in their school, that the school board is engaging in a more sophisticated kind of bullying of its own, stopping at nothing to block the club. We hope that the judge sees through their arguments and that the rights of students ultimately prevail.”

More information about the lawsuit is available here: http://aclufl.org/2013/12/19/aclu-files-second-lawsuit-after-lake-county-school-district-again-blocks-gay-straight-alliance/