Jump to content
The Talon House

Lawsuit: School Withheld Resources From Gay Group


Recommended Posts

Lawsuit: School Withheld Resources From Gay Group

by Patrick Condon, Associated Press

Posted: September 14, 2005 11:00 am ET

(Minneapolis, Minnesota) Students in a gay-straight alliance at Maple Grove Senior High School are suing the district, alleging that the group was denied certain privileges extended to other extracurricular clubs.

The lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court in Minneapolis, said other groups including the Spirit Council, the Asian Culture Group and the Chess Club were allowed to publicize meetings and events on the school's PA and video announcement systems, and with hallway posters and leaflets.

Members of Straights and Gays for Equality (SAGE) were consistently denied such requests, the lawsuit said. It contends a violation of the federal Equal Access Act, which holds that public schools must extend the same privileges to all student-organized, non-curricular clubs.

"I don't know why anyone would want to do this," said Tom Kayser, a Minneapolis attorney representing the students. "Gays and lesbians are a fact of life and they deserve to be recognized as much as anyone else."

Similar lawsuits have cropped up around the country in recent years, several legal experts in Minnesota said it's a first for the state.

The plaintiffs are both female seniors at the high school in Maple Grove, a suburb northwest of Minneapolis. They are both minors, and Kayser was not willing to release their names or the names of their parents. Defendants include the current and past superintendents of the Osseo School District, the school's principal and the district's school board members.

School officials on Tuesday said they'd not yet read the lawsuit, and refused to respond to specific questions.

"I can only tell you I'm confident we're in compliance with the Equal Access Act," said Kate Maguire, assistant superintendent for leadership, teaching and learning.

SAGE formed at the school during the 2002-2003 school year, the lawsuit said, "to promote tolerance and respect for Maple Grove Senior High School students and faculty through education and activities." While some incidents date to the fall of 2003, SAGE members started to find their requests regularly denied in the 2004-2005 school year, the suit said.

School officials contended that other groups, including Students Against Destructive Decisions and the Chess Club, were given a "Favored Group" status that SAGE was not afforded, according to the lawsuit. It said the group was only allowed to post one sign in an enclosed glass case also reserved for student Democratic and Republican groups, and a bible study group.

Teresa Nelson, legal counsel for the ACLU of Minnesota, which is assisting the plaintiffs, said the school shouldn't have a two-tiered system. "First and foremost, they all need to be treated the same," she said.

In fact, a 1990 U.S. Supreme Court decision that upheld the Equal Access Act was brought by a student prayer group seeking equal privileges at its school.

Similar disputes over gay-straight alliances have prompted lawsuits and controversy in other states, including a 1996 decision by the Salt Lake City School Board to eliminate all extracurricular activity at one high school rather than allow a gay-straight group. That decision was ultimately reversed after several years of litigation.

"We're talking about kids in their teen years," Kayser said. "They have a right to tolerance and acceptance, and to have their views heard. To deny them that is against the law and, I think, incredibly shortsighted in a cultural sense."

©365Gay.com 2005


Link to comment
Share on other sites


This topic is now archived and is closed to further replies.

  • Create New...