A charter school in Lake Lure, N.C., is set to reinstate student clubs after controversy erupted earlier this month around the school’s newly established gay-straight student alliance (GSA). Despite what seems like forward movement, one local parent says she expects continued anti-LGBT backlash.
Leaders of the Lake Lure Classical Academy (LLCA) made national headlines when it shut down all student club activities in November. The move came after some parents complained about the GSA. School board of director members sought the pause in student activities in order to have time to review their options, they said.
Board members seem to have had time to review the legalities, according to local reports, and are due to continue discussions on reinstating all clubs, including the GSA, as soon as their next board meeting on Nov. 30. The topic might also be discussed at a meeting on Dec. 10.
“It is our goal that club activities will be reinstated, clear guidelines and policies written and a path defined for the creation and operation of existing and future clubs/groups,” a statement from the school board reads. “We encourage all parents and community members to continue to stand in support of our school and the Policy Committee as they complete the task assigned.”
The school’s options are limited, and the GSA is likely to be reinstated equally with all other student activities. The federal Equal Access Act guarantees access to student-initiated clubs, regardless of political or religious viewpoints. The act applies to all public schools, including charter schools.
Lake Lure will likely adopt guidelines similar to that of a sister charter school, which currently has a GSA present on campus.
According to the Lake Lure Daily Courier:
LLCA began in 2010 and is part of TeamCFA, a network of free, public charter schools. But according to Tony Helton, southeast regional director for TeamCFA, each school in the network operates on an individual basis, creating its on rules and policies. TeamCFA has representation on each school board but is only involved with minor decisions. … Thomas Jefferson Classical Academy (TJCA), which is also a member of TeamCFA and located in Avondale, has a Gay-Straight Alliance Club (GSA) that was started by students last month. TJCA’s policy on non-curriculum related extracurricular student groups states “If TJCA-CFA allows at least one non-curriculum related extracurricular student group to use school facilities during non-instructional time, then the school shall grant equal access and a fair opportunity to all non-curriculum related student groups without discriminating against any group on the basis of religious or non-religious, political, philosophical or other content of views expressed during the group’s meetings.”
One Lake Lure parent is hopeful the necessary changes will be made and the GSA reinstated. But it won’t come without continued anti-LGBT backlash.
Parent Rebecca Blalock wrote to local friends and supporters and recounted recent attempts to stop the GSA. She said a local pastor is intent on continued opposition. Her letter was also posted by the local Catawba Valley Pride.
According to her letter:
We’ve gotten word that Anton Roos, pastor of Lack Lure Baptist Church, has called on his friends and followers, including other local pastors, to join him at our next board meeting on Monday, November 30th. A few weeks ago Anton posted a rather disturbing call to arms on his church’s facebook page, saying that LLCA students were being “exposed to immorality,” and that his congregation should “protect kids” from the “evil” of the club. That the club was an “act of satan,” and that this “act” would “not go unpunished.” He also stated that the club does nothing to “add to the attractiveness of our school.” He even went so far as to boldly state that those who “initiated, encouraged and allowed” this club should have a “millstone tied around their neck and drowned.” (LLBC Facebook post, November 11, 2015.) At the board meeting, hateful slurs were lobbed again, this time at our board and in front of students. Comments like the LLCA LGBTQ Club teacher sponsor were “perpetuating homosexuality,” that the “only diversity we want to teach our children is the bible.” Another demanded that the LLCA LGBTQ Club teacher sponsor be “disciplined,” and that a “gay and lesbian club is not normal and not healthy,” as well as comments made about “the bondage of homosexuality,” “bestiality,” and “pedophilia.”
Blalock is asking friends and supporters to be present at the Nov. 30 board meeting in order to counter Anton Roos’ planned opposition.
“[W]e are reaching out to various groups and individuals we know who are supportive of our kids. ALL of our kids,” Blalock wrote.”We’d like to invite you to join us in standing up to support these kids and the human rights of all LGBTQAI+ people … Please come and show these kids that you care about them. Recent data shows that LGBTQ kids are up to FOUR TIMES more likely to kill themselves than their straight peers, even more likely if they don’t feel supported. This is not acceptable. Please, please come and show your acceptance and support to this group of already frightened youth.”
The board meeting will be held on Nov. 30, 5:30 p.m., at Lake Lure Town Hall, 2948 Memorial Highway, Lake Lure, N.C.