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Orange Co. CA Students forming Gay-Straight Alliance Meetings

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Reprint of a news release from the People for the American Way (PFAW)

1999-DEC-29.
El Modena High School students, prohibited by school officials from holding meetings of their Gay-Straight Alliance, asked a federal judge today to issue a preliminary injunction allowing their club to meet while their lawsuit against
the Orange Unified School District continues.

"It is unfortunate that it is going to take a court order to get the school board to stop playing politics with their students' rights. But, apparently, these school officials need to learn the lesson that they are not above the law," said Myron Dean Quon, staff attorney for Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund's Western Regional Office in Los Angeles.  The students are being represented by attorneys with People For the American Way Foundation, Lambda and Irell & Manella, LLP, a California law firm with offices in Los Angeles and Orange County. 

"The students have been denied their First Amendment and other legal rights throughout the fall semester.  That time can't be recovered. We are asking the court to act now so that no more time is lost and the students' rights aren't denied for an entire school year," said Carole Shields, president of People For the American Way Foundation

In addition to the First Amendment violation, the students' motion argues that the school board is violating their rights under the federal Equal Access Act, which prohibits school districts from discriminating against a student-initiated club because of the political, philosophical, religious or other viewpoints expressed at club meetings. 

After preventing the Gay-Straight Alliance from meeting all fall, the school board unanimously rejected the students' application to have the group recognized on December 7.  El Modena High School has at least thirty-eight student groups that meet on campus, including the Asian Club, Black Student Union, Christian Club, Earth Club, Eighties Club, Equestrian Club, Gentlemen's Club, Girls' League and Juggling Club. The other clubs are afforded certain rights and opportunities by the school, including the right to meet on school premises, participate in "Club Rush" to attract new members,  announce and advertise meetings on school bulletin boards, and appear in the school yearbook.  If the students' motion is granted, they will be able to exercise the same rights and opportunities that other student groups have while waiting for the final outcome of the lawsuit.

Anthony Colin, et al. v. Orange Unified School District, et. al, case no. SA CV 99-1461, is pending in the United States District Court for the Central District of California, Southern Division.

Background links:

bullet"School Board Votes Against Student Gay-Straight Club at El Modena High," 1999-DEC-8, 1999 at:   http://www.pfaw.org/news/press//show.cgi?article=944680196
bulletRead the legal complaint, dated November 19, 1999 at: http://www.pfaw.org/courts/orangecountybrief-991124.pdf This is an Acrobat PDF file. You can obtain a free software to read these files from Adobe Acrobat reader.
bulletGay-Straight Alliance Students Sue Orange County High School; November 24, 1999 at:   http://www.pfaw.org/news/press//show.cgi?article=943483300
bulletStudents Set Deadline in Gay-Straight Alliance Dispute, November 19, 1999
   http://www.pfaw.org/news/press//show.cgi?article=943053841
bulletStatement in Support of Gay-Straight Alliance at El Modena High School, November 18, 1999, at: http://www.pfaw.org/news/press//show.cgi?article=942966577
bulletEl Modena Students Demand Recognition of Gay-Straight Alliance,  - November 16, 1999, at:   http://www.pfaw.org/news/press//show.cgi?article=942790525
bulletHostile Climate 1999 Report Documents Rising Tide of Anti-Gay Bigotry,  November 9, 1999, at:   http://www.pfaw.org/news/press//show.cgi?article=942207217
bulletPFAWF to Orange Unified School Board:  Follow the Law! November 4, at: 1999 at: http://www.pfaw.org/news/press//show.cgi?article=941762843

Related essay:

bulletGay-Lesbian support groups in U.S. public schools

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Originally posted: 2000-JAN-6
Latest update: 2000-FEB-10

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