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Indiana High School Sued Over Not Allowing The Words “Gay”, “Lesbian” “GSA”, or “Gay-Straight Alliance” for School Group

There is a gay-straight alliance at Leo Jr. Sr. High School in Allen County, Indiana. but you wouldn’t know it because the school has banned all descriptive words words that can be used to name it.. Instead only permitted to refer to itself as a “Pride Alliance.”, BUT the “Pride” in its name is not allowed to refer to LGBT Pride. Instead the group is  required to be used as a reference to an a common school acronym: “Professionalism, Respect, Integrity, Diligence, and Excellence.”

ACLU Indiana is suing the school on the student groups behalf.

Via The Daily Beast:

“There is a lot of language policing,” Ken Falk, legal director for the American Civil Liberties Union of Indiana, told The Daily Beast, but it may go well beyond that, too, according to the complaint, filed at the end of November in U.S. District Court.

The ACLU of Indiana’s complaint alleges the Leo Pride Alliance is treated differently from other extracurricular clubs at the school, claiming that it is “not allowed to meet outside of a single classroom,” that it is barred from participating in school fundraisers, and that it can only put up a bulletin board “if members performed community service outside of the school, a requirement not imposed on any other club.”

Other clubs, by contrast, are reportedly allowed to host activities outside of their regular meetings.

According to the complaint, the Leo Pride Alliance has been in existence for two years and now boasts over 30 members. The lawsuit alleges that Leo Jr. Sr. High School staff have told the GSA that it can’t even use terms like “gay” or “lesbian” or “queer” in its advertising—terms that would help LGBT students understand the club’s purpose of providing support and community.

Falk states that denying a GSA its full name not only violates the First Amendment but also sends a potentially damaging message to LGBT youth, many of whom are in early and potentially vulnerable stages of coming out.

The complaint also alleges that the Leo Pride Alliance’s faculty advisor “is required to send a list of all club members to all faculty”—and that no other clubs are required to follow this protocol.

There are currently over 4,000 GSAs in the United States and court cases have repeatedly upheld both their right to exist under the federal Equal Access Act and their right to call themselves “gay-straight alliances” rather than something more euphemistic. The Equal Access Act, passed in 1984, requires schools that allow extracurricular clubs to treat them fairly.

 “This is our fourth GSA case [in Indiana], and the law in this area seems to be pretty much settled but yet we keep coming back to it.”

An East Allen County, Indiana Schools spokesperson said, “We take the rights of our students seriously. We are looking into this matter.”

Yeah right.

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Will Kohler

Will Kohler is a noted LGBT historian, journalist and owner of Back2Stonewall.com. A longtime gay activist, Will fought on the front lines of the AIDS epidemic with ACT-UP and continues fighting today for LGBT acceptance and full equality. Will’s work has been referenced in notable media venues as MSNBC and BBC News, The Washington Post, The Daily Beast, Hollywood Reporter, and Raw Story,

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