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Ga. school board dumps parental permission measure


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Ga. school board dumps parental permission measure

Proposal backed by conservatives criticized as attack on gay groups

By RYAN LEE | Jun 14, 11:19 AM


The Georgia Board of Education overwhelmingly rejected a measure today from state School Superintendent Kathy Cox that proposed requiring school districts to provide parents with a list of extracurricular clubs available to students, giving parents the option to withhold their children from particular clubs.

The board voted 10-3 against the proposal, which critics argued was an attack on gay-straight student alliances on a handful of Georgia's high school campuses, most of them in metro Atlanta.

The board did not directly address gay-straight alliances during its teleconference this morning. But some board members argued that requiring schools to collect parental permission for students to participate in clubs would create a logistical burden for administrators and staff. Board member Jose Perez said he opposed the measure to avoid passing “this confusion on to the schools.”

The proposal, which first surfaced in the state education department in March, was re-written eight times. It was not clear until the teleconference board meeting Tuesday whether the policy would require parents to provide written permission for each club, or whether they could sign a single form allowing or prohibiting their child's participation in extracurricular clubs.

“Anyway you look at it, its more trouble for local systems,” said board member Peggy Nielson.

After the board defeated Cox’s proposal, Nielson introduced a measure that required parents to be notified of the clubs available to students. That proposal was defeated 7-6.

Cox said she was disappointed in the board’s votes but strongly supported parental involvement in their children’s activity.

“I bet you the legislature will probably do something in January,” Cox said.

Gay rights activists who spoke against the proposal during two public hearings in recent months called the decision to defeat the measure a big win.

“I think given all the other challenges that this board has to face, their resistance to becoming a part of the Christian right’s agenda is a great thing,” said Edward Gray, executive director of Youth Pride, a gay youth group

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