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August 13, 2008

Florida District Court Requires Schools to Recognize GSA

August 13, 2008

The Southern District of Florida recently ruled in favor of a Gay Straight Alliance (GSA) student group that sued the School Board of Okeechobee County after the group was denied official recognition as a student group at their high school in Okeechobee, Florida. One of the students sued under the First Amendment and the federal Equal Access Act, which prohibits schools from discriminating against student groups unless doing so is necessary to maintain order or discipline.

The court found for the GSA on both grounds, ruling that:

"the reasons presented by [the School Board] for denying the GSA equal access and recognition sound in a desire to avoid the discomfort and unpleasantness of tolerating a minority of students whose sexual identity is distinct from the majority of students and discordant to [the Board's] abstinence only program. Ensuring that this minority of students are afforded meaningful expression secures the precept of freedom from external dominion over thought and expression exalted by the founders and safeguarded by the First Amendment."  Gonzalez v. Sch. Bd. of Okeechobee Cnty., No. 06-14320-Civ, at 18-19 (S.D. Fla. July 29, 2008).

The full opinion can be found here at the ACLU website.


Posted and drafted by Michael, a law student.

August 13, 2008 | Permalink

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Comments

This is simply ludicrous. How many other schools have gay-straight alliances? Is this an infringement on these students civil rights?

Posted by: Eric | Aug 14, 2008 11:59:45 AM

Actually, it is not ludicrous at all. Once a school creates a limited public forum, the Federal Equal Access Act kicks in. Under that provisions of that Act, the school cannot discriminate against student groups on the basis of religious, political, or other speech associated with that particular student group.

Posted by: Sara Benson | Aug 17, 2008 11:02:02 AM

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