888 4 GAY NEWS or 888-442-9639

Indiana school can't use "gay" in its gay/straight alliance club, ACLU sues

Indiana school is facing an ACLU lawsuit over LGBT student club.
Photo credit:
Google Street View

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) has interjected and filed a lawsuit against Leo Junior/Senior High School in Leo-Cedarville, Indiana, after school officials told students they couldn't use the word “gay" in their gay/straight alliance club.

Throughout the country, schools with similar clubs use LGBT terms in their titles, but this school allegedly forbid it. Administrators approved the club but not the name, authorizing it instead as Leo Pride Alliance.

Censorship also went beyond the title. According to the lawsuit Leo school staff banned the group from using LGBT terms such as "gay, lesbian, queer, GSA [or] LGBT+… in any of the announcements or promotions for the club.”

Moreover, the suit claims the school mandated that the alliance was “not permitted to meet outside of a single classroom or participate in school fundraisers,” and an LGBT History Month display was also denied at first. 

A student advisor was allegedly told to “send a list of all club members” to staff members, a practice not in place for other campus groups. 

The ACLU suit wants an injunction “to allow Leo Pride Alliance to be renamed Leo GSA” that would also require the GSA “to be treated identically with other clubs in all respects.”

In addition, it seeks to “enjoin [the school] to allow the club and its members to use such terms as gay, straight, lesbian, queer, transgender, bisexual, LGBT+, or other similar terms, in discussing the club and club activities in the school.”

The executive director of ACLU of Indiana, Jane Henegar, said: “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.

“The differential treatment aimed at Leo Pride Alliance by administrators is unwarranted.”

ACLU of Indiana legal director Ken Falk, said students at the Leo Jr. Sr. High School are free to join extracurricular clubs, but “By creating additional hurdles for the Leo Pride Alliance, and censoring the groups name, the school is infringing on these students’ rights.”

East Allen County Schools remains silent about the suit, only saying, “We take the rights of our students seriously. We are looking into this matter.”