Lawsuit filed on behalf of students at Carver Middle School challenged efforts by Lake County school administrators to keep students from establishing anti-bullying club on campus

CONTACT:  ACLU of Florida Media Office,, (786) 363-2737

OCALA, FL - Today, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Florida filed a motion asking a judge for summary judgment in a lawsuit challenging the Lake County School District’s refusal to allow students at Carver Middle School to form a Gay-Straight Alliance (GSA). The lawsuit, which was filed in December of 2013 on behalf of a group of students at Carver Middle School, challenged the board’s refusal to allow the club to form as a violation of the students’ rights. It was the second lawsuit filed in less than a year challenging repeated efforts by Lake County school administrators to thwart students’ attempts to create a GSA.

“As we successfully argued last year, the school board may not lawfully pick and choose which clubs it wants to allow,” stated Daniel Tilley, ACLU of Florida LGBT rights staff attorney and lead counsel in the case. “Students deserve schools that will support them in ending bullying rather than exacerbating the problem. It’s time for the students at Carver to have the closure they deserve and have their right to establish this club to make their school a safer place respected.”

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.

The motion filed today asks Federal District Judge William Terrell Hodges to issue an order stating that the school board’s efforts violated the federal Equal Access Act – a law which says that all student clubs must be given equal treatment by school administrators – and allowing the club to meet and be treated the same as any other student club on campus.

From the motion:

“The new school year has just begun. The School Board through its Superintendent has violated the Equal Access Act in disallowing the Carver GSA to form and operate as a student group. Plaintiffs request that the Court ensure that they are given equal access to all of the benefits afforded to any other noncurriculum related student group as the school year resumes.”

The motion filed today may be found here:

More information about the case is available here:

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