Of Permission Slips and Homophobia: Parental Consent Policies for School Club Participation Aimed at Gay-Positive Student Groups
Boston University Public Interest Law Journal, Vol. 19, No. 23, 2009
42 Pages Posted: 24 Sep 2011
Date Written: September 14, 2008
Gay-positive student groups, often called “Gay-Straight Alliances,” have become more and more common in the nation’s high schools in recent years. They are a way for all students to show their commitment to equality and their acceptance of others, regardless of their sexual orientation. One way schools react to attempts by students to form such clubs is by requiring that parents consent before students can participate in school clubs. These parental consent policies are facially evenhanded in that they apply to all clubs and do not single out GSAs. The context of their adoption, however, usually reveals that they are uniquely directed at the gay-positive groups, whose founding motivated the policies. Despite their evenhandedness, parental consent policies can be challenged under the federal Equal Access Act of 1984, which requires that student groups get “equal access” to school resources. They can also be challenged under the First Amendment, as violating students' rights to expressive association and intimate association.
Keywords: lgbt, first amendment, equal access act, students, expressive association, intimate association, privacy, schools
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