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School Reportedly Censors, Monitors Attendees of GSA

by Kilian Melloy
Friday Dec 7, 2018

A high school in Allen County, Indiana, is reportedly keeping watch on who attends meetings of its Gay-Straight Alliance, reports The Daily Beast.

Not that the group is allowed to call itself a GSA, mind you, or even use words like "gay." And there's another word they cannot use, except in a highly regulated manner: Pride.

The group, which was formed by students at Leo Jr. Sr. High School, is required to refer to itself as a "Pride Alliance," the Daily Beast article says, but with "Pride" now having nothing to do with LGBTQ people and their concerns. Instead, "Pride" in this case has been turned into an acronym standing for "Professionalism, Respect, Integrity, Diligence, and Excellence," notes a release from the ACLU, which has brought suit against the school.

"The faculty advisor of Leo Pride Alliance is also required to send a list of all club members to all faculty," the ACLU's release reveals. "Since this has started some students have stopped attending the group."

The release details other things that the ACLU says are problematic.

"In addition, club members may not use the words gay, GSA, or LGBT+, or similar language, in any of the announcements or promotions for the club," the release notes. "Unlike other clubs, the Leo Pride Alliance is not allowed to meet outside of a single classroom, or participate in school fundraisers."

The head of the ACLU's Indiana chapter, Jane Henegar, spoke out against the school's treatment of the group and offered a reminder as to why it is the GSAs exist.

"This group aims to create an environment that provides social, emotional and educational support to students, during a time that otherwise might be increasingly difficult for LGBTQ students," Henegar said. "The differential treatment aimed at Leo Pride Alliance by administrators is unwarranted."

The ACLU also contends that the school's requirements of the group are blatantly illegal and unconstitutional.

"The unequal burdens imposed upon the Leo Pride Alliance violate the Equal Access Act, 20 U.S.C. ยง 4071, et seq., the First Amendment, and the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment," the release posits.

The legal director of ACLU of Indiana, Ken Falk, declared, "Students at Leo Jr. Sr. High School may participate in extracurricular clubs recognized by the school."

Added Falk, "By creating additional hurdles for the Leo Pride Alliance, and censoring the group's name, the school is infringing on these students' rights."

When the Daily Beast reached out to East Allen County Schools about the issue, a spokesperson told the outlet, "We take the rights of our students seriously. We are looking into this matter."

Kilian Melloy serves as EDGE Media Network's Assistant Arts Editor. He also reviews theater for WBUR. His professional memberships include the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association, the Boston Online Film Critics Association, The Gay and Lesbian Entertainment Critics Association, and the Boston Theater Critics Association's Elliot Norton Awards Committee.


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