North Carolina charter school lifts club suspension after LGBTQ group complaints | News
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Tuesday, December 1, 2015

North Carolina charter school lifts club suspension after LGBTQ group complaints

Posted by on Tue, Dec 1, 2015 at 11:33 AM

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A western North Carolina charter school has lifted its temporary ban on clubs after some parents called for it to bar an LGBTQ support group last month. 

Leaders at the Lake Lure Classical Academy, a K-12 school in Rutherford County, responded to a strong warning letter from the ACLU of N.C. by voting Monday night to resume student-led clubs, although a new policy will require parental consent for children to join clubs at the K-8 level. 

The academy was heeding the complaints of some parents when they temporarily suspended clubs last month. 

But as the ACLU and the Indy have reported before, the federal Equal Access Act requires public schools—and, yes, Lake Lure is a publicly-funded charter—treat all clubs equally. If your school allows any other extra-curricular clubs, such as Lake Luke's ongoing Christian club, Raptors for Christ, then LGBTQ-friendly clubs such as the Gay-Straight Alliance must be allowed, regardless of the public consternation. 

“We commend the board for allowing all student-run clubs to have equal access to school resources,” said Chris Brook, legal director of the ACLU in a statement. “Federal law requires all students clubs – whether it’s a chess club, Bible study group, or Gay-Straight Alliance – to be treated equally. It’s also important that the new policy allows high school students to exercise their First Amendment right to decide what clubs to join. Students should be free to join LGBTQ+ and Gay-Straight Alliance clubs that seek to create a safe space and promote equality for all students on campus. ”

The school's board of directors issued a statement on the decision Monday.

From the statement:

"We have adopted policies governing the formation and operation of clubs and we expect that all clubs will be treated fairly under these policies, although these guidelines reflect that not all clubs are appropriate for all grade levels. 

"To the students who are currently in the newly-formed gay-straight alliance, or any student who may wish to participate in the future, we respect you as individuals and support you as members of our school family. We support your club just as we do the chess club, Raptors for Christ and all other clubs that exist or may form under our policy guidelines. Our school is a place of inclusion, not exclusion."

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