I'm from the government, & I'm here to help you. - State Bd. of Ed. is being asked by K. Cox to require parental permission to join all h.s. clubs.
The rule, proposed by schools Superintendent Kathy Cox, doesn't specifically target clubs for gays. But it was requested by lawmakers who have tried unsuccessfully for several years to squelch the gay student support groups that are popping up in Georgia high schools.
Students and parents affiliated with the gay student support groups have their own concerns. Because many students can't talk to their parents about their sexuality or consider their parents unsupportive, requiring written permission could dissuade many from attempting to join such groups, parents and students say.
That's the point, said state Sen. Ralph Hudgens (R-Comer), who sponsored a bill this session that would have required similar disclosure. "I just believe that any child who would want to go and join that club, if they have to have their parents' permission, they're not going to feel comfortable going and asking Mama or Daddy to do it," he said.
But don't expect such forthrightness from state Superintendent Kathy Cox.
Cox says she took the issue to the state board because she thought it, not the Legislature, should set policy. And get this. The proposed rule isn't intended to suppress membership in gay support groups, she says, but to make sure parents are aware their children are participating.
"I don't think it will be used punitively at all," she said. "It's just a precautionary thing that makes common sense."
For your information, the federal Equal Access Act, passed by Congress in 1984, protects gay-oriented clubs, which merit the same status as any other group that meets on school grounds.
If a secondary school allows any noncurriculum related group to meet on school premises during noninstructional time (with curriculum related meaning, according to the U.S. Supreme Court, such as a French club, student government or a band or chorus), it is unlawful to discriminate against student clubs on the basis of the religious, political, philosophical, or other content of the speech at such meetings.