A central Pennsylvania school district has voted against allowing for the creation of a gay-straight alliance at a local high school on Wednesday where LGBT students and others had already been meeting informally over the past two years.
The Chambersburg Area School District in Franklin County had expected the vote in January, but it had not occurred. Students from the local high school had again petitioned for the club to be allowed to be formulated on campus, but in the 5-4 vote, the council said no.
The students have said they will not stop fighting for the right to have a group based on unity and acceptance. Other NGOs and organizations have watched the situation closely.
“The Chambersburg Area School Board sent a disturbing message to their school community that essentially denies the existence of LGBT students,” remarked Jason Landau Goodman, Director of the Pennsylvania Student Equality Coalition (PSEC), a youth-run organization defending the rights of young LGBT people, in a statement.
PSEC argued that the Federal Equal Access Act of 1984 requires school districts to either allow GSAs to form, just like other extra-curricular student clubs, or suspend all non-curricular activities entirely.
The group said in the statement that they would be willing to pursue legal action if the board doesn’t reconsider by its next meeting on March 27.
In 2012, two Central Pennsylvania school boards denied permission for GSAs, but later reversed their decisions.