Gay-Straight Alliances Approved by Lake County School Board
The first round of voting by the Lake County School Board is in favor of an 8th grader’s request for a Gay Straight Alliance (GSA).
The board had discussed banning all non-curricular student clubs in reponse to a request by student Bayli Silberstein to form a GSA at Carver Middle School.
On March 11, they voted 3-2 in favor of allowing non-curricular clubs, which would pave the way for the GSA. The district attorney presented three options: allowing non-curricular clubs at the districts’ high schools while closing them to middle schools, allowing non-curricular clubs at both high schools and middle schools, or closing non-curricular clubs to both high schools and middle schools.
Board members Rosanne Brandeburg, Debbie Stivender and Chairwoman Kyleen Fischer were the votes in favor, while Tod Howard and Bill Mathias expressed for banning non-curricular clubs in middle schools but allowing them in high schools.
14-yaer-old Silberstein and other supporters attended the meeting, wearing red to show their support for the GSA. Her attempts to start the club began in November. On Jan. 23, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) sent a letter to Lake County School Board attorney Stephen Johnson, demanding the district follow through on Silberstein’s request for a GSA to "confront bullying, educate the school community, and promote acceptance and equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender students" via the formation of a GSA.
According to Silberstien, school officials had been ignoring her request. After the ACLU sent the letter, the School Board proposed the plan to ban all non-curricular student clubs, rather than allow the GSA.
The March 11 vote is a preliminary vote - the final vote date is to be announced.