GAINESVILLE, Ga. A federal judge ruled July 14 that White County High School cannot deny a student gay rights club equal access or a fair opportunity to conduct meetings on school premises during noninstructional time.
“I think this is a triple victory,” said Beth Littrell, an attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union who filed the suit on behalf of Kerry Pacer, a graduate who was present of P.R.I.D.E. (Peers Rising in Diversity Education).
“I think it is obviously a victory for our courageous young plaintiff, it’s a win for all students and a win for the principle of equality,” Littrell added. “It sends a clear message that school officials can’t discriminate against students.”
U.S. District Court Judge William C. O’Kelley also ruled that White County cannot discriminate against student groups on the basis of the religious, political, philosophical or other content of their speech.
“The law was with us and the judge agreed, and interpreted the law as it had been interpreted,” Littrell said. “The school did a good job of attempting to circumvent the federal law by dressing clubs up as organizations or faculty-led, basically slapped some lipstick on a pig.”
O’Kelley ruled that school officials violated the Federal Equal Access Act during the 2005-2006 school year by barring P.R.I.D.E. from meeting on campus, while allowing other non-curricular clubs to do so.
“I don’t have any comment since I haven’t had time to read it,” said Brian Dorsey, the principal of White County High School.
This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition, July 21, 2006.