LGBT + school group wins legal battle after being banned from advertising
Residents and visitors alike attend the inaugural Columbus Pride Festival on April 14, 2018 in Columbus, Indiana. (Getty / Scott Olson)
Members of an Indiana high school LGBT + club have won their legal battle after being banned from fundraising and promoting meetings.
A district judge issued a preliminary injunction in favor of the Gay-Straight Alliance (GSA) at Pendleton Heights High School on Wednesday, December 22, after the principal banned the group from advertising on campus and raising funds for the club.
the trial – filed by the Indiana ACLU in September on behalf of the GSA – alleged the school had violated First Amendment rights and students’ equal protection rights.
The high school principal claimed that the GSA was not an “official” club and banned the group from advertising on “school bulletin boards, on the school radio station or anywhere on school property, ”according to the lawsuit.
District Judge James Sweeney II argued that the GSA was “Likely to suffer irreparable harm” with the preliminary injunction and said the school should give the LGBT + group equal rights with other student organizations.
The ordinance required the school to grant the GSA the same rights as those accorded to its other groups of students. This included the ability for the LGBT + youth group to fundraise, advertise and be listed in the school’s student manual.
The Indiana ACLU hailed the judgment in a statement posted on its website.
“While this is not the first time that the Indiana ACLU has faced a public school for treating a GSA group differently from other student-run organizations, we hope that public schools across the State will take note and forgo future challenges in providing equal treatment to all groups of students, ”the group said.
“The Indiana ACLU will continue to work to ensure that all schools in our state provide GSA groups and other student-led groups with the equal rights granted to them by the US Constitution.”
Pendleton Heights High School faced backlash earlier this year after teachers were ordered to remove LGBT + flags displayed in their classrooms.
District officials initially argued that pride flags should be removed from classrooms to “maintain point of view neutrality.”
Bryce Axel-Adams, a student at Pendleton Heights, has started an online petition to “Allow the pride flag to fly in the classrooms” in high school. Axel-Adams explained in the petition that the LGBT + flag is “one of the clearest ways” to support young gay people.
They added, “Having a pride flag is one of the clearest ways to say, ‘I support you and I am here for you. You are loved’.
“It’s so important to LGBTQ + youth, we’ve always been told that teachers will always be there for us, and being able to easily identify which teachers we can safely turn to is extremely important to our mental health. “
Axel-Adams later added that they had received an update from school administrators to say that they had changed their position. School officials said they had “changed their argument from the flag being a political discourse to withdrawing it to avoid a discrimination trial,” Axel-Adams wrote.
RoseNews has contacted South Madison Community School Corp for comment.