Texas School District Settles ACLU Lawsuit By Allowing Gay-Straight Alliance
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
HOUSTON — After months of delays and a lawsuit by the American Civil Liberties Union, officials at Klein High School have agreed to allow students who want to form a Gay-Straight Alliance to begin meeting, according to a settlement agreement announced this morning.
“Klein High School now knows what schools everywhere need to know – that they can’t use delay tactics to get away with trampling students’ rights and violating federal law,” said David George, ACLU of Texas cooperating attorney of Edwards & George, LLP, adding, “We applaud these students for standing up for their rights and demanding equal treatment.”
The suit was filed on behalf of Klein student Marla Dukler. “It’s too bad that we had to wait until the school year was two-thirds over before we finally get to have the club we asked for so long ago, but I’m really glad the school is finally doing the right thing,” Dukler said.
“We hope to start working on changes to make our school safer immediately,” Dukler said. “It needs it.”
When students at Klein High School originally submitted their application to form a GSA last September, school officials changed the requirements for student clubs in an attempt to keep the club from forming. The students resubmitted their application following the new rules, but then months passed with no response from the school.
In January, the ACLU filed a complaint on the students’ behalf in the United States District Court of Southern District of Texas charging violations of the federal Equal Access Act and the First Amendment. According to the federal Equal Access Act, students must be allowed to form GSAs if the school permits other non-curricular clubs.
“We’ve found that a lot of schools are trying to get around the law by changing the rules for clubs or stalling when students approach them about forming GSA’s,” said Ken Choe, staff attorney for the ACLU’s Lesbian and Gay Rights Project, who worked with George on the case.
“We took Klein High School to court to put other schools on notice that we’re not going to let them get away with that any longer,” Choe said.
According to the terms of the settlement, the Klein High School Gay-Straight Alliance can start meeting immediately.
Gay-straight alliances are student-formed groups that address issues of discrimination, tolerance, and school safety in hundreds of schools across the United States.
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