EXCLUSIVE: School Board Chair Says It's 'Something That We Will Discuss'
School board members in Franklin County, Tennessee, may consider eliminating all extracurricular clubs in an effort to get rid of a newly formed Gay-Straight Alliance.
The GSA at Franklin County High School in Winchester has been under attack since it first met in January, with parents comparing it to ISIS, and students vandalizing the club's posters and wearing "Straight Pride" signs in protest.
Last month, anti-LGBT residents who spoke at a school board meeting warned that the GSA is part of a "radical gay political agenda" that seeks to recruit children:
In response to the controversy over the GSA, the Franklin County School Board has decided to draft new guidelines for student organizations. Under the federal Equal Access Act, officials must allow the GSA unless they eliminate all extracurricular clubs, from the Fellowship of Christian Athletes to the Student Council.
After rumors began circulating online Tuesday morning, board Chairman Kevin Caroland confirmed that eliminating all extracurricular clubs was among the possibilities discussed during a work session on Monday night.
"We discussed last night our policies and procedures and the possibility of getting rid of all clubs, and what all that would entail. There was not a consensus. that I could tell," Caroland told The New Civil Rights Movement in an exclusive interview. “We had a large number of emails that have asked us to look at that.”
The school board will hold its regular monthly meeting next week, but Caroland said he's unsure whether officials will take up the issue. He said board members provided district staff with "a laundry list" of questions but set no timetable for further consideration of the matter.
"We’re trying to spell out for the community what would happen if we shut down all clubs," Caroland said. "I think the community needs to be educated on what the consequences are of doing that. We're just trying to get it all laid out so nobody’s surprised by anything."
After last month's board meeting, where opponents of the GSA waved Christian flags and warned about the dangers of "fisting, rimming and anal sex," it may have appeared to casual observers that the hate would finally subside.
But Caroland said: "The controversy is still alive and thriving."
According to documents from Monday's workshop, there are 17 extracurricular student organizations at Franklin County High School. The documents state that the GSA "fosters a safe environment for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) students and their allies."
"The FCHS GSA will offer a space where LGBT students and their allies can speak freely and honestly with their peers about issues specific to LGBT students without fear of rejection or harassment," the documents state.