Target: Superintendent Lynn Weathersby of Rankin County, Mississippi
Goal: Terminate school policy aimed at banning LGBT clubs in schools.
School board members of Rankin County, Mississippi have recently approved a new policy that will ban students from creating and participating in LGBT clubs. Superintendent Lynn Weathersby’s push toward the new policy comes after students attending high schools in the area expressed great interest in creating gay-straight alliances (GSAs), or student-led clubs aimed at combating anti-gay discrimination and bullying.
Currently, students at several schools across the state have created such clubs or are working to establish them. However, the new policy would ban the creation of new LGBT clubs, and limit participation in current ones, as students are forced to seek parental permission for creating them. Many students may not be ready to talk to their parents about their sexual orientation, which is exactly why clubs like GSA are necessary: to provide students with supportive environments.
Additionally, at a school board meeting, Superintendent Weathersby told several administrators he was interested in “limiting organizations [like LGBT clubs] on campuses,” and that he didn’t “want to endorse” them either. The district’s school board attorney also showed opposition to LGBT clubs by stating that the new abstinence-only sex education programs would be compromised by the induction of gay clubs.
Despite opposition from the Human Rights Campaign, the American Civil Liberties Union of Mississippi, and the Mississippi Safe School Coalition, a group that fights to combat harassment, bullying and unfair school policies in the state, Superintendent Weathersby, along with several administrators, mandated the offensive policy.
So far, several federal laws prohibit schools that receive federal funds from banning students from operating gay-straight alliances or student clubs designed to raise awareness of LGBT discrimination and encourage a safe environment for LGBT students to connect. Sign the petition to urge Superintendent Lynn Weathersby to abolish the ill-considered policy and allow LGBT students and their allies to freely assemble.
Dear Superintendent Weathersby,
Your recent ban on LGBT clubs in schools located in your district is callous and intensely homophobic. Gay-straight alliances and student-led clubs aimed at combating ignorance, violence, and discrimination are the saving grace of many LGBT students in your school district. These organizations provide a safe, non-judgmental environment for students to freely assemble, be heard, and feel accepted amongst their peers.
By banning these clubs from every coming to fruition, you send a strong and clear message to LGBT students and their allies that they are not welcome and should continue to be invisible and insignificant within their collective student bodies. Besides, federal law prohibits any school that receives federal funds from banning gay-straight alliances, or LGBT clubs, so your policy is not only insensitive, but illegal.
I urge you to abolish the ill-considered policy and allow LGBT students and their allies to form GSA clubs and other LGBT-oriented organizations.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: Pomah Bekkep via Wikimedia