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21.10.03

Who Does A Gay-Straight Alliance Hurt?

Tex. Students Sue To Organize Gay Club At High School

... Now [Rene] Caudillo is embroiled in a lawsuit against Lubbock's public school system, the latest in a handful of disputes pitting gay teenagers who have organized gay student groups against school districts that have objected to the clubs.

... Lawyers for the school district argue that the Equal Access Act permits schools to override students' free speech rights and forbids clubs if they jeopardize students' well-being. In support of that argument, they cite a little-known section of the Texas Penal Code that prohibits gay activity between youths younger than 17. Allowing a Gay-Straight Alliance amounts to giving students license to break the law, said Ann Manning, an attorney for the school district.


I like how anti-gay lawyers sometimes make the best arguments for the pro-gay side. The article makes it pretty clear that not having a Gay-Straight Alliance is jeapordizing the well-being of the town's gay students, since they would then lack the support and community that they need to maintain their psychological, and perhaps even physical, health in an overtly homophobic environment.

UPDATE: I've added the end of the second paragraph quoted above, which clarifies how the school's lawyers think the "well-being" clause applies. The legal argument is not that homosexuality is bad (though I don't doubt they'll bring that up), but that for minors it's illegal. Not having a copy of the law in question on hand, I can't say whether it ought to be invalidated by the Lawrence decision -- it's plausible that it wouldn't be, since the rationale for legalizing sodomy tends to talk about "two consenting adults."

My thought following that was that maybe the club could work around the restriction, presuming that the "gay activity" prohibited by the law is simply gay sex, and not, say, displays of homosexual affection. A Gay-Straight Alliance would have its work cut out for it in terms of combatting homophobia and educating people, so it wouldn't need to talk about gay sex specifically, and certainly not in the context of minors doing it.

Then it occurred to me that there is a need for gay kids to be able to talk about gay sex. Children are typically expected to acquire reliable knowledge about sex from "the talk" with their parents, and sex ed in schools. In a place like Lubbock suspect that such knowledge is not forthcoming for gay students (except insofar as they can translate hetero sex ed into the homo sphere), since their parents and teachers are likely to be unable (because they lack personal experience with it) and unwilling (because of their conservative mores) to discuss responsible gay sex practices. This doesn't have to be the mission, or even a mission, of the Gay-Straight Alliance, but it strikes me as something that ought to be done somehow.

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