The Orlando Sentinel
January 24, 2013

The American Civil Liberties Union is demanding the Lake County School Board allow a gay-student support group to form at a Leesburg middle school after the group was denied by campus administration. In a letter sent Wednesday, the ACLU contends that the school district has a legal obligation to allow students at Carver Middle School to form a local chapter of the Gay Straight Alliance student group. In October, several students petitioned Principal Mollie Cunningham for permission to start the group, saying it would help combat bullying and give students a safe, supportive place to be themselves. The students cited several examples of gay Carver Middle School students being taunted or pushed while on campus. "It was hurtful and no one really wanted that to continue," said Bayli Silberstein, 14, an eighth-grader who applied to start the group. Students also had applied to start the club last school year, but were denied by the former principal, according to the ACLU letter. This year, Bayli asked for reasons in writing why the club would be denied, but school officials have yet to provide answers, according to the letter.