Ocala. – A proposed and hotly-contested Gay-Straight Alliance at Carver Middle School is headed back to court.
A federal judge has set a trial date for the lawsuit challenging the Lake County School Board’s refusal to allow the GSA to meet. U.S. District Judge William Terrell Hodges will hear the case 9:30 a.m. March 2 at the U.S. District Court in Ocala, Fla.
The American Civil Liberties Union filed the lawsuit December of 2013, on behalf of a group of CMS students who want to create the GSA. There was a hearing before Judge Hodges Feb. 10, but no action since.
“We look forward to the opportunity to argue before the court that the school district cannot pick and choose what kinds of groups students are allowed to start,” said Daniel Tilley, ACLU of Florida LGBT rights staff attorney and lead counsel in the case, in a media release. “Students and parents deserve to know that their school administrators treat all students with dignity and that they will be supported in efforts to make their schools safer and more welcoming places. This fight has gone on long enough, and in the intervening time, the number of GSAs working to fight bullying in schools across Florida has continued to grow. It’s time for the students at Carver Middle School to have their rights respected and have their opportunity to make their school safer.”
This is the second lawsuit filed over a GSA at Carver Middle School in the past year. The last time the ACLU sued Lake County Schools, they were representing openly bisexual Bayli Silberstein, who at the time was a 14-year-old eighth grader at Carver Middle School. After months of legal wrangling and school board meeting debates, a judge granted Silberstein permission to form the club for the remainder of her eighth grade year, which ended in the summer of 2013.
That settlement has expired, Bayli has moved onto high school and now, the GSA no longer meets at Carver Middle School. Before the club became inactive, CMS students tried to keep it going but ran into administrative roadblocks similar to the ones Silberstein faced.
From our media partner Watermark