UPDATE: Texas School District Allows Gay-Straight Alliance On Campus - For Now
Last week on our blog, we told you about the Texas school district that would not allow a Gay-Straight Alliance (GSA) on their campus. After a daylong protest in front of Flour Bluff High School last Friday; after the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Texas threatened legal action; and after a change.org petition in support of GSA founder Bianca "Nikki" Peet captured more than 55,000 signatures, late last night school board members reversed their decision - for now.
Voting 4-2, the Flour Bluff Independent School District (ISD) now says the GSA will be allowed to meet on campus while the district continues to study their policy - a policy the ACLU asserts is in violation of the First Amendment and the Equal Access Act. In a letter dated March 2, the ACLU of Texas gave the Flour Bluff ISD until March 9 to reverse their decision or face possible legal action.
“We’re committed to supporting all students in our community, and I think this is the right way to do it,” board member Wally Graham said. “This is what we think is in the best interest of our students.”
Graham's message is welcome, especially in light of remarks from Superintendent Julie Carbajal, who has said repeatedly that there was "no chance" the district would approve the formation of a GSA at Flour Bluff High School.
Under the board's direction, Flour Bluff High School must allow the GSA to meet by April 1 - a short while before the graduation of Flour Bluff High School senior Nikki Peet, the club's founder.
Nikki couldn't attend last night's meeting, but her mother, Maria, was there and spoke in support of what the GSA would provide the students who need it.
“There are a lot of kids that need the club,” she said. “We just need to open our eyes and admit that this is going on. This kind of club would actually help the kids be able to speak out.”
Last week, just as this story was starting to make headlines, GLAAD provided media training to Nikki Peet and other leaders in Texas who might be asked to speak in support of Nikki's efforts to make Flour Bluff High School a place where LGBT students can feel safe. We also worked to elevate this story to the attention of a national audience and successfully pitched this story to MSNBC.
GLAAD congratulates Nikki Peet, and all those who continue to support her, on last night's victory! We also thank the Flour Bluff ISD for their decision, and we hope they will remain committed to supporting all of their students. We encourage the media to report on this important victory, and we of course will continue to keep a close eye on this story.