Corpus Christi's Flour Bluff Independent School District has banned all extracurricular clubs from meeting on campus to make sure it's complying with federal law after denying a student request to create a gay-straight alliance.
In a letter to Paul Rodriguez, the president of the Gay-Straight Alliance at Texas A&M-Corpus Christi, who has supported Flour Bluff students' efforts to create an alliance at their high school, Superintendent Julie Carbajal defended the decision and said the school was committed to "supporting the cultural diversity of all students in our community."
More from the Corpus Christi Caller-Times:
The superintendent’s decision came after Flour Bluff High School senior Bianca “Nikki” Peet’s proposed club garnered attention from such national organizations as the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network and Change.org, which by Friday afternoon gathered 500 signatures on a petition asking the school’s administration to approve the club.
Rodriguez had argued that denying Peet the chance to create a Gay-Straight Alliance violates the Equal Access Act, a law mandating that federally funded schools provide equal access to extracurricular clubs.
The legislation, approved in 1984, was seen then as an attempt to protect Bible study and other religious groups. The law has since been invoked by supporters of gay rights to protect the formation of Gay-Straight Alliances in schools. Rodriguez said he gave the district two options when he intervened on behalf of Peet who had unsuccessfully petitioned her principal to start a club. He said the district could approve Peet’s club or disallow other clubs not based in the curriculum.
Chuck Smith, the deputy executive director of Equality Texas, a nonprofit that lobbies against discrimination based on sexual orientation, said the school is within its legal rights.
"But it's certainly setting the wrong tone and climate if you are trying to foster a safe campus, because now they are pitting the kids who are getting kicked off against the kids who are trying to form a gay-straight alliance," he said.
A spokeswoman for the district said the school's decision regarding the club was final.