May 312015
 

images-5A school district in Mississippi, USA is requiring students to get their parents’ permission before joining a club in an effort to reduce Gay-Straight Alliance (GSA) membership, even though the district doesn’t have any existing branches.

Unknown-6Administrators in Rankin County school district referred to the GSA as “gay clubs”, when approving the new policy, saying they feared the clubs would conflict with the district’s abstinence-only teachings. Rather than teach safe sex, such programs urge teens to refrain from sex.

A few months back a Mississippi high school teacher agreed to a student’s request to sponsor a GSA (Gay Straight Alliance) club.

Attempts to hinder GSA membership brought swift condemnation from the Mississippi branch of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and from Human Rights Campaign (HRC), an LGBT-rights advocacy organization. The after-school GSA club is meant to encourage dialogue between heterosexual and LGBT high school students, and prevent discrimination.

The ACLU called the school district’s new policy “deeply disturbing”, and warned the district it could violate federal civil rights laws if it persists, in a letter sent on Wednesday. The warning came with the reminder that Christian groups initially lobbied for the 1984 Equal Access Act, the federal law that requires schools to allow Gay-Straight Alliance clubs to form.

GSA clubs have long been the subject of litigation, and several court precedents support schools’ requirement to allow the clubs.

 Alberta, Canada

Canadian flag.  Alberta is one of Canada's provinces

Canadian flag. Alberta is one of Canada’s provinces

Canada legalized gay marriage in 2005 and the “sky didn’t fall.”  Canadians have had ten years to feel that straights and gay are part of the fabric of Canada.

Controversial Bill 10 unanimously passed third reading in the Alberta legislature on Tuesday, paving the way for gay-straight alliances to be established in all of the province’s schools.

The Alberta legislature passed Bill 10, allowing gay-straight alliances at the province’s schools, on Tuesday, March 10, 2015.

Under the new legislation, GSAs are allowed at all schools, and students are permitted to name them whatever they want.

 

“Thank you to every Albertan that refused to tolerate discrimination in this province,” an emotional Blakeman said in the legislature. “Your voice mattered.”

 

 

The bill must still receive Royal Assent, but is expected to come into effect on June 1.

 

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