Lake County School Board Voted to Table Policy on Student Clubs, Leaving 8th-grader Bayli Silberstein’s Gay-Straight Alliance in limbo

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:   April 23, 2013
CONTACT:   ACLU of Florida Media Office, media@aclufl.org, (786) 363-2737

Last night,  the Lake County School Board voted 4-1 to table a proposed middle-school club policy, creating the most recent administrative barrier for 8th-grader Bayli Silberstein who is trying to establish a Gay-Straight Alliance (GSA) club at Carver Middle School.

The vote comes over a month after an initial vote of 3-2 by the school board in favor of the policy over a proposal intended to thwart the GSA by banning all non-curricular clubs. Over 55,000 people had signed a petition urging the school board not to go forward with the proposed ban on all clubs, and to support Bayli’s effort to establish the GSA.

The ACLU of Florida has been supporting Bayli’s effort to get the club recognized by school administrators.

The following statement may be attributed to Joyce Hamilton Henry, Mid-Florida Regional Director for the ACLU of Florida:

“It is extremely disappointing that after hundreds of local parents and supporters came to school board meetings and tens of thousands signed a petition urging the school board to let Bayli establish her GSA, the school board has now delayed again. We had given the school board the benefit of the doubt that they were working in good faith to create a policy that would treat students fairly. Now, at the last possible moment, they have pulled the rug out from under Lake County’s middle school students and their parents.

“They seem to want to want to run out the clock, ignore the bullying problem at Carver Middle School, and hope that the kids who want to do something about it quietly graduate to high school without having a chance to make their school safer. This leaves Bayli where she started: without an answer to whether or not the GSA can meet.

“But last night’s vote was not the last word on the matter. Bayli is not about to stop her fight now, and we will continue to stand with her in the struggle to do what the school itself refuses to do: make schools safe and welcoming for all students.”

More information about the ACLU’s work to support the effort to start a GSA at Carver Middle School is available here: http://aclufl.org/2013/02/15/aclu-petitions-lake-county-school-board-to-stop-gay-straight-alliance-ban/

The petition put together by the ACLU is available here: https://www.aclu.org/secure/stand-with-bayli

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