Georgia lawmakers scramble to restrict gay students’ clubs

Posted on 02 Mar 2006 at 10:57pm
By Doug Gross Associated Press


Nancy Schaefer


Move follows ACLU’s lawsuit against school district that prohibited a gay-straight alliance from meeting at school while allowing other groups

ATLANTA A bill linked to controversy over a gay student club at a north Georgia school was revived in the state Senate on Tuesday, in a tougher form than a similar measure already passed by the House.

The move came one day after the American Civil Liberties Union filed a federal lawsuit against White County’s school district, saying it is unfairly preventing a group for gay students and their friends from meeting at a high school.

Senator Nancy Schaefer, a Republican who represents White County, introduced legislation that would require parents to sign off on any school club their child joins.

Schaefer successfully attached the legislation as an amendment to another bill that requires parental permission for a student to drop out of school. She said her amendment was not directly aimed at the gay-club controversy.
“We have strong support from parents all over the state,” she said. “They just want to be notified; they want to know what’s going on with their children.”
Schaefer’s amendment was approved by an unrecorded show of hands.

Chuck Bowen, director of Georgia Equality, the state’s largest gay-rights organization, dismissed claims that the amendment had nothing to do with the White County controversy.

“This clearly is directed toward gay-straight alliances and anyone who says otherwise is being completely misleading and just downright lying,” Bowen said.

In January 2005, a group of students wanted to start a gay support group called PRIDE at White County High School in Cleveland, Ga.

The school board agreed to allow the club, but school administrators later recommended eliminating all “noncurricular clubs” at the high school.

The club has continued to meet off campus. The ACLU lawsuit claims other clubs including a shooting club and dance team have been allowed to meet at school.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition, March 3, 2006.

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