(Above: A group of students with the Gay-Straight Alliance at Millwood High School carry a banner in the Halifax Pride Parade.)
A high school in Indiana is preventing a gay-straight alliance from calling itself one, or using the abbreviation GSA, and the American Civil Liberties Union is suing.
When students at Leo Jr./Sr. High School sought to start a gay-straight alliance under the name "Leo GSA," administrators told them they had to go by the alternate "Leo Pride Alliance." Not only that, the "Pride" in this situation refers to the "Pride" acronym the school created: "Professionalism, Respect, Integrity, Diligence, and Excellence."
The banned words also go for any announcements the group makes, and includes a ban on the use of "LGBT+, or similar language," according to the ACLU. They are also prohibited from meeting outside of a single classroom, or holding school fundraisers, unlike other groups, and are required to provide a list of its members to faculty. That has reportedly resulted in a number of students no longer attending.
The group was formed two years ago and currently has 30 members, the complaint notes.
"This group aims to create an environment that provides social, emotional and educational support to students, during a time that otherwise might be increasingly difficult for LGBTQ students," said Jane Henegar, executive director of ACLU of Indiana. "The differential treatment aimed at Leo Pride Alliance by administrators is unwarranted."
"Students at Leo Jr. Sr. High School may participate in extracurricular clubs recognized by the school," added Ken Falk, ACLU of Indiana legal director. "By creating additional hurdles for the Leo Pride Alliance, and censoring the groups name, the school is infringing on these students' rights."
The ACLU is arguing the school is violating the students' rights granted by the First Amendment, the Equal Access Act, and the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.
"We take the rights of our students seriously. We are looking into this matter," an East Allen County Schools spokesperson told The Daily Beast.
According to Lambda Legal, there are currently over 4,000 gay-straight alliances in schools across the country, and courts have upheld their rights to exist and not have their names altered to avoid upset or controversy.