'Christian' Flags Waved To Oppose LGBTQ Students And Allies At Packed School Board Meeting
Anti-LGBT parents battled students, equality allies, and local leaders at a Franklin County school board meeting Monday night.
District officials at the meeting announced they don't plan to try to shut down a newly formed Gay-Straight Alliance at Franklin County High School (FCHS) in Winchester, Tennessee, as some supporters of the club had feared.
However, school board members do intend to enact new requirements for all student clubs – including that they maintain a minimum number of members and keep minutes of their meetings — in response to a weeks-long controversy over the GSA, during which some parents compared the GSA to ISIS.
Four members of the public, two in support of the GSA and two against it, addressed the Franklin County school board at the start of its much-anticipated regular meeting Monday, which took place in a packed gymnasium at the high school. Supporters of the GSA held up rainbow-colored placards and other signs, while opponents raised Christian flags. Prior to the meeting, about 50 GSA supporters rallied outside the school.
“People who want to start a gay club in our high school say it will be all about coming together because of common interest to talk about diversity and political issues,” said one parent who addressed the school board (video below). “But the teachers and administrators and parents need to know that the GSA is a youth recruitment strategy carefully laid out by gay activists that carefully avoids addressing the health issues involved. The mainstream media won’t report it, but the Internet is packed with truths about the radical gay political agenda and lifestyles. In order to get what they want, they’re targeting kids. If you’ve ever heard of Kevin Jennings, he’s the founder of the GLSEN (Gay Lesbian Straight Education Network). In 2006, they had a conference up in Massachusetts where they bused in middle school and high school kids that were members of the GSA, and they were subjected to stuff like fisting, rimming, oral sex, anal sex. The GLSEN does not belong in our schools."
Loud cheers and boos erupted in the gymnasium at the end of the man's remarks, with some attendees calling for him to be removed from the meeting. Speaking in favor of the GSA were a ninth-grade member of the club who is straight and a Sunday School teacher from a local church.
“For those of you saying this is a gay club, it’s not. I’m heterosexual. It’s called the Gay Straight Alliance. Go figure," the freshman GSA member said, adding that the club isn't sexually based and has almost 50 student and faculty supporters. "We have it to end the demeanign of the LGBT community. My point is, this community needs this group, and not just the school. You can’t tear the club down unless you get rid of all non-curricular clubs. You can tear our signs down, and you can tear the tears out of our eyes ... but so far we have the legal right to keep meeting."
The Sunday School teacher who spoke said some of the founding members of the GSA are members of his church.
“Love overcomes fear," the man said. "That’s years of Sunday School in three words. Love your neighbor. That's three more words. Please retain for these children their God-given right, their legal right, to just be themselves, and to be safe.”
After the public remarks, board chairman Kevin Caroland explained that officials decided to consider new requirements for student clubs so that the district's policy is consistent for all schools and everyone understands it. Currently, the district's policy for student clubs is "not very specific" and "provides only general guidance," Superintendent Amie Lomas told the board as she introduced the new proposed rules, some of which appeared to be geared specifically toward the GSA.
For example, the new policy would prohibit clubs from "soliciting members," which may be a response to parents' misguided fears about the GSA "recruiting" their children into "the gay lifestyle." And advertising of club meeting times would be restricted to certain areas, after the GSA's posters were vandalized and torn down.
School board members also said student clubs should have a minimum number of members, and undergo periodic sunset reviews to ensure they're still active and adhering to the policy. And officials want clubs to keep minutes of meetings, including a record of who attended, which could serve to discourage people from participating in the GSA if they're worried about being outed to school administrators or their parents.
Board members didn't vote on the proposed new rules, but directed Lomas to amend them to reflect Monday's discussion before they consider the policy again next month.
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