Wednesday, November 30, 2005

St. Augustine high school students fight to form GSA

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According to an article on 365gay.com, students at a high school in St. Augustine, Florida, are fighting to form a gay-straight alliance, or GSA, at their high school. The school, which has already been threated with a lawsuit, now has ten days to allow it. According to the article:
Pedro Menendez High School senior Marissa Burrier and other students at the school sought permission from principal Robert Allten to form a GSA last month. Allten refused to allow the GSA but said he would approve an unofficial “tolerance group” which would not be considered an official school club and would not have the privileges other clubs receive. “We just wanted to start a club where all students could feel safe, regardless of their sexual orientation,” said Burrier. “We need a place on campus where all kids, gay and straight, can come together in a safe place to talk about how they feel.” Burrier and her fellow students sought the help of the National Center for Lesbian Rights and Equality Florida. The NCLR told Allten on Tuesday by letter that if he did not act with ten days to approve the GSA he would be hauled into federal court. “The principal’s denial of the students’ request to start a GSA and his attempt to force the students to change the club’s name and deny it official club status is clearly illegal,” said NCLR Regional Counsel Karen Doering. “Under the federal Equal Access Act, schools that permit students to form other non-curriculum based clubs must allow students to form GSA’s, and must give these GSA’s the same status and privileges as other club."
Now, hopefully, the principal of this high school will take very, very careful steps for the next few days. Ultimately, he will need to decide to do the legal and ethical thing: allow the GSA to form. Back when I founded the GSA at Reynolds High (the second such group in my system), I don't think I had near as many problems as this high school. I never had to threaten a lawsuit and the principal of my high school was pretty much willing to work with me and I believe he did as much as he could, given the political atmosphere around Winston at the time, to protect LGBT students. The students who founded the first GSA in my school system though didn't have it so easy. Those students enlisted the help and aid of the local GLSEN chapter (which is no longer in existence, see www.glsen.org for more info). I don't know all of the details, and someone correct me if I'm wrong... the situation with our school board got so bad that it almost came really close to bringing a lawsut against the system. I do not understand at all the reasoning that must go through these people's heads. Principals and school boards must do a whole hell of a lot of rationalizing to get around the fact that not allowing this GSA is breaking a federal law. Some may say its because these people are standing for moraity and do not want homosexuality in the schools. Well guess what? Tough shit. The public school system is run by the government, hence, NO ONE can let their own personal, private religious or moral views dictate policy, laws, or rules for anyone else. That is America. I'm sorry if you don't like it. If you want to live in a theocracy... try an Islamic Arab country... America isn't a theocracy, it never was and it never will be. Get over and if you don't like it move somewhere which will allow you to tell everyone else how to live, based not upon the "law of the land" but rather your own fundamentalist brand of religion which is seeking to grasp control of and kill America's precious democracy and all of our freedoms.

3 Comments:

The first little happening involving LGBT people and Christianity occurred last week, with the ant-gay vote of the North Carolina Baptist State Convention. Of course, the bigots had to choose my native city of Winston-Salem to hold their little convention....

My first question is...why is the vote "anti-gay"? Perhaps the reasons the vote was held was due to pure anti-gay sentiment OR was the vote held due to the theological implications of allowing Churches within the Convention to affirm homosexuality? Whatever the reasons were for holding the vote, I'd have to say that the theology of Churches that affirm homosexuality within the Convention is out-of-step with the average North Carolina Baptist.

It's not surprising. It's the way the Convention is going. Moderates who do not support creedal Conventions should get out. Form your own Convention. The NCBC has been lost forever to fundamentalism. Use Texas and Virginia as models. Moderate Baptists in Texas and Virginia run the show. Still, I'm not convinced that you really subscribe to your definition of anti-gay.


"See, to me, the North Carolina Baptist Convention, along with the Southern Baptist Convention, represents nothing but intolerance, bigotry and hatred for everything they see as “different,” with “different” always becoming somehow “sinful” or “below” them."

For example, your quote here? Seems that you are implying that since the SBC does not affirm homosexuality they are anti-gay bigots? On the whole, I'd say the SBC welcomes homosexuals and ministers to them. However, because of their theology, they believe your lifestyle is sinful. But, that's their theology.


I guess I'm too much of a die-hard "soul-freedom" Baptist. I don't want any person telling me what to believe. Granted, I have no idea what kind of predjudice and bigotry, you, as a gay man, have to deal with on a regular basis. But, I see it this way...it's fine for gay-rights activists to push for marriage equality, etc.. in the realm of secular politics but when the gay-rights groups start to push their agenda on the individual Churches and denominations, I have a problem with that. We have to separate theology from the secular politics. I'm a big fan of Andrew Sullivan and his push for marriage equality but the heated rhetoric and rants (calling those who don't agree with you bigots) can be dangerous and destructive to your cause.
Well... first off, I'm not a gay rights "group." BUt what I am is a person who has devoted much of my life to activism and advocacy,the large part of it focuses on the civil and legal aspects ofour society. The thing is... I'm also a Christian; there is nothing wrong in advocating for lesbian and gay folk, as a Christian, in the Church. I don't see that as a problem.

It is this simple... I am a person, who believes in God and His Son, Saviour of humanity... period. No more questions should be asked... I am a Christian and just because I am gay does not mean I should be "expelled" from the Church.

Also... I don't have a "lifestyle." I have a life, one part of which is my sexual orientation, another part of which is my religion, another are my friends, another is my family, my school, my interest in music, my love of the arts, my passion for politics, my advocacy for gay and lesbian people, my advocacy for students and my interest in student-customer rights, my involvement in my school's Student Government, my love of my Grandpa, playing with my little brothers and sister, my love of the mountains, my love of my truck (which my Grandpa gave me)....

I don't live a gay "lifestyle." In fact I'd say my lifestyle is pretty much like EVERY average American college student, gay or straight.
You essentially dodged the issue at hand: your quotes which seem to offer a different definition of anti-gay as you have recently provided....

You harped on my choice of the word lifestyle...I said "they believe your lifestyle is sinful." Hence the word, they. Had I been more careful, I would have used quotations around the word lifestyle. Their word, not mine. And since we were talking their theology, I chose to use their words.

As a gay-rights activist you are promoting a similar message as other gay "folk." Collectively, you are a group. Semantics.

Here's where you're wrong. CHURCHES were "expelled" from a Convention...the individuals were not "expelled" from their Church. So you, nor any other gay person, was personally expelled from their Church. Those Churches can keep on believing what they believe. However, they will be unable to send messengers at the next NCBC and likewise, they won't be required to send a small portion of their budget to the NCBC.