Gay-Straight Club in Okeechobee Can Meet as Lawsuit Advances

By: AP edited by Harrison Hove Email
By: AP edited by Harrison Hove Email

MIAMI (AP) _ A federal judge has ruled that a club that promotes tolerance of gays must be allowed to meet at Okeechobee High School while a lawsuit is pending.

The American Civil Liberties Union filed the lawsuit against the school board in November on behalf of the Gay-Straight Alliance. School officials had said the group was a "sex-based'' organization that would violate its abstinence-only education policy.

The judge ruled that the school must grant the same privileges to the group that it grants other clubs, as mandated by the federal Equal Access Act.

The lawyer for the school board says he believes the judge's decision honors the school's desire that the club steer clear of discussions related to sex. Whether the school will press forward for trial.

In his ruling, the judge said the school showed no evidence to back its concern that the group would encourage students to share "obscene or sexual explicit material,'' and that the school had made that assumption based on the group's name.

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