Florida district enters into consent decree with ACLU to allow gay-straight alliance student club to meet at school
According to the Associated Press (AP) in The Miami Herald, Marion County school officials have entered into a consent decree that will allow the formation of a Gay-Straight Alliance (GSA) club designed to promote understanding among gay and straight students at Vanguard High School. U.S. District Court Judge Marcia Morales Howard signed the decree ordering school officials to permit the club to meet at the school. The decree settles a lawsuit filed by the Florida Chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU-FL) on behalf of the GSA after the school’s principal, Rick Lankford, and Superintendent Jim Yancey prohibited formation of the club.
The ACLU-FL accused the officials of violating the federal Equal Access Act and freedom of association rights under the First Amendment. It is the third such case the ACLU-FL has won in Florida on behalf of the Gay-Straight Alliance. The others were in Okeechobee and Nassau counties.
Source: The Miami Herald, 8/14/12, By AP
[Editor's Note: The ACLU-FL's press release announcing the resolution of the suit states: "The consent settlement reached by the parties now has the force of law and resolves a months-long battle by members of the GSA along with the ACLU of Florida to allow the organization to form, meet, and be recognized at Vanguard High School."
In June 2012, Legal Clips summarized an article on Ocala.com, which reported the ACLU-FL's suit against the Marion County School Board and Superintendent Jim Yancey, alleging officials at VHS rejected a proposal by two students to start a GSA club at the school. The suit claimed Yancey’s refusal to establish the club was a violation of the students’ First and Fourteenth Amendment rights, and also ran afoul of the EAA. The suit charges that after their encounter with Lankford, the students never heard from him again. The students also claim there was no meeting with Yancey after their appeal to his office.]