The board of directors of a North Carolina charter school voted Monday night to reinstate all student clubs, including a gay-straight alliance (GSA). The move came after the board temporarily suspended all clubs due to concerns and questions from some parents.
The Lake Lure Classical Academy (LLCA) board of directors had suspended the clubs following parents’ complaints over the formation of the club and posters advertising it in November.
Last week, the school and some parents said it was likely the board would reverse its decision. It did so on Monday, voting 7-2 to reinstate all clubs, but allowing for a provision that would require permission for K-8 students to join some clubs.
Anti-LGBT backlash was also expected from some parents and local religious leaders. According to local news reports, some parents criticized the decision at the school board’s Monday meeting.
“This is about an agenda that seeks to infiltrate your curriculum,” David MacEacahern said at the meeting, according WLOS.
Early, Anton Roos, pastor of the Lake Lure Baptist Church, had spoken out against the clubs, according to one parent:
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.”
LGBT advocacy leaders in North Carolina are praising the school’s decision.
In reality, the school board had little option. The federal Equal Access Act guarantees all students the right to form non-curriculum-related student organizations. All public schools, including charter schools, are prohibited from denying access to student clubs based on students’ political or religious beliefs.
A nearby sister charter school has also allowed non-curriculum-related clubs, including a GSA.
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.”