WHPTV in Harrisburg, Penn. reports that five of nine school board members in the Borough of Chambersburg have struck down the possibility of a Gay-Straight Alliance club forming at the high school there. Equality Pennsylvania says that's illegal.
School board member Joan Smith voted in favor, all though at first she had reservations.
“I'm sad it turned out the way it did but I'm sure there are going to be repercussions,” Smith told CBS 21.
School board member Carl Barton voted against the club. By phone today he said the club wouldn't do enough to stop bullying.
went on to say that the board members are friends or related to some
gay and lesbian people and that this wasn't an issue of moral values.
...We reached out to all of the school board members
Friday, they either turned down all on camera interviews or did not
respond to our calls.
School Superintendent Joe Padasak told us
he wasn't interested in speaking on camera. saying its old news now that
the board made its decision.
Here's the statement from Equality Pennsylvania:
more than a decade, school districts across the country have instituted
Gay Straight Alliance (GSA) student organizations in their high
schools to ensure a safe space for students who identify as Lesbian,
Gay, Bisexual and Transgender. The Chambersburg School Board has chosen
to deny students that right. Equality Pennsylvania asks the Board to
reconsider that unfortunate earlier vote.
School Board has a wonderful opportunity to let their LGBT students
know that they don't have to wait until they get older to have a safe
space to be themselves and that they can have it right now, at
Chambersburg High School. This is the Board’s chance to be a voice for
equal access to a safe learning environment for all of their students.
the federal Equal Access Act, public schools may not deny the ability
of a Gay Straight Alliance to form if the school allows other
extra-curricular student organizations to meet. Federal Law mandates
that any school that allows a non-academic student organization must
allow students to organize a GSA. In this case, Chambersburg is
clearly not above the law. The School Board must now do what is right
by students morally and legally.
Equality Pennsylvania strongly
recommends that the Chambersburg School Board reconsider their decision
on a Gay Straight Alliance at Chambersburg High School. Given the lack
of an LGBT-inclusive anti-bullying law in Pennsylvania, local School
Districts are left on their own to ensure safe environments for LGBT
students to learn and to be themselves. Equality Pennsylvania is
hopeful that the members of the Chambersburg School Board will do the
right thing and allow students to organize a GSA in their district.