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School Violating Terms of Gay Rights Settlement, ACLU Charges*

by Brendan Coyne

*A correction was appended to this news brief after initial publication.

July 8, 2005 – In court papers filed Tuesday, the American Civil Liberties Union asked a federal court to reopen a lawsuit charging that a Kentucky high school violated students’ rights by denying them permission to form a student group devoted to teaching gender and sexual identity tolerance. The ACLU says the school board has not followed through on its obligations under a settlement agreement.

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In 2002, a group of students at Boyd County High School in Ashland, Kentucky formed the Gay-Straight Alliance (GSA) student club in the face of what they saw as rampant anti-homosexual discrimination and harassment. School officials refused to recognize the group, and, rather than face a lawsuit over discrimination, chose to ban all student clubs in October 2002, according to court papers.

The Board’s action led the GSA and ACLU to file a lawsuit against the school in January 2003. The suit was settled last year and the District agreed to reinstate student clubs, treat the GSA the same as other clubs and conduct anti-harassment training for teachers and students.

Tuesday’s move by the ACLU charges that, since settling the case, Boyd County Board of Education officials failed to provide adequate discrimination-prevention training related to the core issue, gender and sexual identity equality. Additionally, the group said, students and staff are allowed to opt out of training sessions which are meant to be mandatory under the provisions of the settlement.

Critics of the settlement complain that the compulsory nature of the training violates the civil liberties of students forced to undergo it.

"It not only puts a gag on students who disagree with homosexual behavior, it also actively attempts to change their moral beliefs," lawyer Kevin Theriot, who is fighting the ACLU on behalf of the right-wing Alliance Defense Fund, told the Kentucky Citizen Digest.

CORRECTION

Major Change:

A sentence in the original version of this brief -- written by an editor (not reporter Brendan Coyne) -- has been removed. It indicated that the Alliance Defense Fund advocates some forms of compulsory moral

curricula. The ADF contests that notion, maintaining that it only supports "opt-out" moral curricula. The editors believe the sentence added minimal value to the story. Rather than add several sentences to

clarify the nuances of their position and an objective assessment of it, we have opted to remove the statement.

 | Change Posted July 12, 2005 at 13:42 PM EST

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The NewStandard ceased publishing on April 27, 2007.


Brendan Coyne is a contributing journalist.

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