Students at Wilson Central High School in Lebanon, Tennessee have applied to start a Gay-Straight Alliance on campus to support LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender) students. For two months, school administrators have ignored and delayed the student's request. These students have been forced to seek legal counsel from the ACLU in hopes of encouraging school administrators to do the right thing and honor the Equal Access Act that guarantees students the right to establish student organizations as long as similar organizations already exist.
According to the lead student organizer, Wilson Central High School senior, Chris Bauman, cited recent teen suicides, two of which were in Tennessee, that happened after intense anti-gay bullying as the primary reason for starting the organization. Greg Lasater, a Wilson school board member and also a school resource officer with the sheriff’s office, raised religious objections calling LGBT students "those people" and compared them to "normal...regular" kids, then continued by saying, “If I had to vote, just from my own Christian values — nothing against those folks — it would be hard for me as a board member to support it." The petition has followed the proper protocol and has faculty support to serve as sponsors. It has gone before the principal, to Director of Schools Mike Davis and finally to the county attorney for review.
The Equal Access Act requires the school to allow the establishment of a Gay-Straight Alliance and is not a matter of the school or its administrators supporting it based on personal moral or religious beliefs.
This petition to the Wilson County Director of Schools and Board of Education asks that they put aside their religious objections, honor the separation of church and state and the Equal Access Act, and allow for the establishment of a Gay-Straight Alliance at Wilson Central High School. By doing so, the school will send a message to their LGBT students that they are valued members of the school community and that Wilson Central High School is a safe place for them to learn and grow.
This petition is being brought on behalf of the Wilson Central High School students by the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network (GLSEN) of Middle Tennessee (https://www.facebook.com/#!/glsenmiddletn). It is our goal to demonstrate support for the LGBT students and allies of Wilson Central High School in establishing a Gay-Straight Alliance and respectfully request that the Director of Schools and Board of Education clear the way for the students to establish their organization.