Mazel Tov, Flour Bluff High School Gets a GSA – For Now

Last week, the ACLU gave Flour Bluff High School an ultimatum: either allow senior Nikki Peet to start a Gay Straight Alliance, or face legal action. Yesterday, in a four-hour-long closed session, school administrators met to decide on a course of action while the GSA supporters waited outside.

The board conceded that a GSA will be allowed temporarily at Flour Bluff, and will be allowed to meet on campus for now. The school says it is “reviewing the policy” that it created in 2005, which it has previously cited as justification for refusing Nikki Peet the right to form an organized queer community of support, despite the fact that she’s complied with their every request. This may be enough to avoid a lawsuit for now, but it doesn’t seem like the school is ready to give up altogether: they’re still planning on making a “permanent decision” regarding the GSA at an unnamed later date.

support rally held march 4th (via aclu.org)

The law in question is the Equal Access Act, which orders that “if a school receives federal aid and has a “limited open forum,” or at least one student-led non-curriculum club that meets outside of class time, it must allow additional such clubs to be organized, and must give them equal access to meeting spaces and school publications.” Flour Bluff High has stated that a policy they enacted in 2005 covers this situation, and that it isn’t an act of discrimination against a specific (gay) club, but simply obeying the dictate of their own policy already in place. The ACLU will likely not let this stand; school policy isn’t enough to excuse them if the policy itself is in violation of the Equal Access Act. However, the school may try to excuse their non-compliance by referencing a different clause of the Equal Access Act, one that says clubs can be denied if they “materially and substantially interfere with the orderly conduct of educational activities within the school,” which is a claim many other school districts have made in this same situation.

Ironically, Nikki was hospitalized with an infection for the entirety of the Tuesday night showdown, and so her family showed up outside the trustees’ meeting in her stead. Following the decision, Nikki’s mother said she “couldn’t be prouder,” adding that she’s always taught her daughter that “everyone is equal.” But she seemed to be under no illusions about the real feelings of the school administrators: “It seems to me the board members kind of want to pretend that this doesn’t exist in their school.”

Supporters from Texas A&M’s GSA – who have been in Flour Bluff since the beginning of the controversy – were also present Tuesday night, as were representatives of the ACLU. Jay Raymond of the TAMU GSA summed up the group’s feelings outside: “There’s no chance of this dying down until what we want is what we get.”

Corresponding homepage image via change.org.

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Rachel is Autostraddle's Managing Editor and the editor who presides over books and news & politics coverage. Originally from Boston, MA, Rachel now lives in the Midwest. Topics dear to her heart include bisexuality, The X-Files and tacos. Her favorite Ciara video is probably "Ride," but if you're only going to watch one, she recommends "Like A Boy."

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      Don’t worry. Remember what Jay Raymond said? “There’s no chance of this dying down until what we want is what we get.” The good guys are too determined and too hard of workers to let anything outside of a permanent GSA stand.

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    OMG NIKKI PEET WILL BRING ABOUT THE FALL OF CIVILIZATION AND RUIN ALL OF OUR LIVES WILL SOMEBODY THINK OF THE CHILDREN OUR FAMILY VALUES ARE BEING ATTACKED WHY DOESN’T EVERYONE DO IT OUR WAY LINES WHERE ARE THE LINES WE NEED LINES

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      There comes a point, when people are as desperate as above, when by “LINES” they cease to mean boundaries and begin to mean crack. However, I’d view even that as a step in the right direction, seeing as if they did crack, they’d probably end up in jail, meet Dusty and Helena, and find out they were gay themselves all along.

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