Friday, March 1, 2013

PA School Board Illegally Bans GSA's

Recently, the board voted 5-4 not to allow a Gay Straight Alliance (GSA) club at Chambersburg Area Senior High School. A news report on the vote did not include any comments from the five who voted against the club, but the story did make one very important point: The 1984 Federal Equal Access Act requires secondary schools to allow a variety of student-run religious and non-religious voluntary clubs that meet during “non-instructional” time. This law was later upheld by the Supreme Court.

And the board cannot plead ignorance, here. Before the vote Stephanie Metz, an educator in nearby Shippensburg who is a Chambersburg resident, warned the board of the consequences that could come from banning a GSA. She said, according to the Chambersburg Public Opinion, that she doesn’t want her tax dollars to be used on a court case because the Constitution allows equal opportunity when it comes to student club formation.

At least one board member, Kim Amsley-Camp, who voted to allow the club, seems to be well aware of what’s at stake here. Public Opinion reported that Amsley-Camp said prior to the vote that she contacted the Pennsylvania Association of School Boards about the GSA club and was informed that the district has to allow the club under the Equal Access Act.

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