Teens Demand Recognition|of Their Gay Rights Club

     MILWAUKEE (CN) – In an unconstitutional attempt to squelch the so-called “homosexual agenda,” a Wisconsin high school refuses to grant club status to a gay-straight alliance group that has existed in the school for over a decade, a federal complaint claims.

     The West Bend High School Gay Straight Alliance and two anonymous students claim that the board of education has violated their rights under the First Amendment and the Equal Access Act, “which grants all non-curriculum related student groups equal access rights if a school recognizes one or more non-curriculum related student groups.”
     Though it began meeting informally in 2000, West Bend High School has never officially recognized the alliance as a club. Alliance members say they have sought formal recognition from the school district’s board of education (WBSD) since the 2004-05 academic year.
     “Those requests were denied by administrators citing a variety of reasons, including WBSD not wanting to endorse homosexual activities and the club’s alleged lack of connection to the curriculum taught at the schools,” according to the complaint.
     Other groups, such as the Key Club, do not have curricular ties, but the school recognizes them, the alliance claims.
     The alliance filed a formal discrimination grievance against the school in 2011 when it learned that there was no application process or formal criteria for official recognition.
     “All of the other clubs at WBHS merely asked and were granted official status based upon ad hoc decisions made by building Principals,” according to the complaint.
     The school subsequently created approval criteria, which includes school board approval, but it allegedly only forced the Gay Straight Alliance to go through the new application process.
     No other clubs have had to get the approval of the school board, according to the complaint.
     The Gay Straight Alliance says at least one board member, nonparty David Weigand, made it his mission to block recognition of the club, saying he contacted other board members and the media to condemn the group’s alleged promotion of the “homosexual agenda.”
     Administrators submitted the alliance’s application for recognition in 2011, along with a recommendation for approval. The board considered this application in a work session and formal meeting in May.
     “During both the work session and the formal Board meeting, Mr. Weigand expressed sentiments critical of gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgendered and gender questioning people and in support of community standards that condemn same-sex sexual practices,” according to the complaint.
     The alliance says that Weigand was ultimately the deciding vote against the group.
     In addition to official club status, the alliance wants to use the school district’s public address system, meet on district property, post information at the school, use school equipment and resources, permission to fundraise and recognition in the yearbook.
     The Gay Straight Alliance and the two students seek just $20 in damages and “reasonable” legal fees. Its lead attorney, Waring Fincke of West Bend, told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: “”It’s not a lawsuit about damages. We’re not trying to bankrupt the school district. We are trying to get them to do what the law requires them to do.”

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