ACLU threatens to sue Corpus Christi school district for refusing to allow Gay Straight Alliance

The ACLU is demanding that Flour Bluff ISD officials allow a chapter of the Gay Straight Alliance at Flour Bluff High School in Corpus Christi or face legal action.

The principal of Flour Bluff High School has refused to allow the GSA proposed by student Nikki Peet, and the district superintendent has threatened to eliminate all non-curricular clubs to avoid allowing the GSA.

The ACLU, which is representing Peet, says the district is in violation of the federal Equal Access Act because it has allowed other non-curricular clubs — including the chess club; the Key Club; the Family, Careers, Community Leaders of America; and the Fellowship of Christian Athletes — to meet on campus.

“Because Flour Bluff High has opened the door to non-curricular clubs on campus, it is required by law to permit the GSA club,” the ACLU writes in its letter dated today.

The ACLU also maintains that it’s illegal for the district to eliminate all non-curricular clubs to avoid allowing the GSA.

“Recently, a federal court in Mississippi held that when the school district canceled the prom in response to a student’s request to bring a same-sex date, the district violated the student’s First Amendment rights,” the ACLU said. “The proposed action by the District here is no different than the cancellation of the prom that the court held in McMillen to be unconstitutional.”

The ACLU gives the district until March 9 to respond.

“If you refuse to comply with your obligations under the EAA and the First Amendment, we will take whatever steps necessary to protect the rights of our client, Ms. Peet,” the letter states.

Read the ACLU’s letter here.

As we reported earlier, a protest is planned outside Flour Bluff High School on Friday.

—  John Wright

Corpus Christi school district says it will ban all clubs rather than allowing Gay Straight Alliance

Nikki Peet

The other day, we told you how Flour Bluff High School in Corpus Christi is refusing to allow 17-year-old student Nikki Peet (right) to start a chapter of the Gay Straight Alliance. The school’s decision not only violates federal law, but it also signals that officials care nothing about the safety of LGBTQ students.

The federal Equal Access Act, originally designed to protect student Bible study groups, dictates that if a school allows one non-curricular club to meet on campus, it must allow any non-curricular club to meet on campus. In other words, if a school allows a chess club, it must also allow a Gay Straight Alliance.

In this case, Flour Bluff High School has been allowing the Fellowship of Christian Athletes to meet on campus. But rather than simply allowing the GSA, the district has apparently decided to kick the Fellowship of Christian Athletes off campus, and bar all other other non-curricular clubs. Wow.

The Corpus Christi Caller-Times reports:

Superintendent Julie Carbajal said she has asked the Fellowship of Christian Athletes to meet off campus while the district studies the legality of allowing the club while disallowing a club supporting homosexual students. She said there is no chance the district will approve the proposed Gay-Straight Alliance, but she will make sure all other school clubs are following the district’s policy.

“We need to be fair and equitable to all,” she said.

In disallowing the Gay-Straight Alliance, the district said it didn’t have to follow a federal law mandating schools offer equal opportunities for all students to organize. The district approved a policy in 2005 that did not allow student clubs not tied to curriculum to meet on campus.

The Fellowship of Christian Athletes, which has been meeting on campus, may not be adhering to that policy, Carbajal said. She said the district is consulting with its attorneys on the matter.

“We feel like we need to follow the policy in place,” she said. “If we’ve made any wrong judgments then we have to fix that because we are not looking at changing our policy.”

Students from the GSA at Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi were tentatively planning to protest Flour Bluff’s refusal to allow the GSA on Monday. However, it’s unclear whether that protest will go forward now that the district says it plans to ban all non-curricular clubs.

In the meantime, Change.org has launched a petition calling on the school to allow the GSA. Sign it by going here. If you’d like to contact school officials directly, the info is here.

—  John Wright