Staff members at Leo Jr./Sr. High School won't let their recently-founded Gay-Straight Alliance use the word "gay" or the initialism LGBT+, according to New Now Next.
The alliance was originally called Leo GSA, but the school's administration told the members that they must go by the alternate name – Leo Pride Alliance. Of course, the pride in this instance doesn't have any connection to pride in the LGBT sense, but it is instead an acronym that the school created that stands for Professionalism, Respect, Integrity, Diligence, and Excellence.
So, how is this a GSA? As mentioned above, "gay" and "LGBT+" and other related words have been prohibited from being spoken by members of the Pride Alliance, as well as prohibiting meeting outside a single classroom and holding school fundraisers. Additionally, unlike other groups at Leo, the Alliance is required to provide a list of members, which resulted in a decrease in attendance.
The purpose of a GSA is to create a safe, judgment-free space for LGBTQ people and to bridge the gap between heterosexual and LGBTQ students. By censoring the group and treating it differently than others, is obviously harmful to LGBTQ students and their allies as there seems to be an increase in hostility towards non-heterosexual students (or at least it's becoming more mainstream).
Ken Falk, executive director of ACLU of Indiana, said that the differential treatment of the Alliance is a violation the students' first amendment rights. The ACLU also argues that the way that the Alliance is treated in violation of the Equal Access Act, which prohibits restriction of open forums based on religious, political, philosophical, or other speech content, and the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. As such, the ACLU is suing the school.
Lambda Legal reports that there are approximately 4,000 Gay-Straight Alliances across the United States and every single one has had its right to exist upheld by the courts as well as not having their names altered or have content censored.
So basically this school is saying that there can be a GSA, but there can't be any mention of sexuality, can't use the words gay or the initialism LGBT+, and can't be called a gay-straight alliance. Can anyone see the point of a group centered around accepting people for who they are and creating a welcoming environment for LGBT that can't talk about anything related to the group? I sure can't. I do hope that this gets settled and that the ACLU wins the lawsuit because having a non-gay GSA is just about the same as silencing LGBTQ voices, which GSAs seek to prevent. But hey, it's better than being threatened to be set on fire.
h/t: New Now Next