The club has drawn criticism from residents in the Southern Tennessee community, with a social media page created last month calling "for members of the Franklin County School Board to move the club off campus because of its controversial nature." Critics say clubs that discuss religion or sexuality should not be organized on school campus.
Local resident John Wimley, who organized a Facebook page in protest of the alliance, posted that if "a group like that could be admitted without community knowledge, one like 'Future ISIS Members of America' could be formed as well. His comment used the hashtag '#putgodinschoolsplease.'" Wimley, who said his comment "was misconstrued by others who believe he was comparing the GSA to ISIS," told Wilson, “Maybe it was a mistake. But it was a statement that needed to be made.”
At least two people have filed paperwork to speak at tonight's meeting of the Franklin County School Board, which GSA advocates and critics, including the Middle Tennessee chapter of the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network, are expected to attend, Wilson writes.
|Franklin County, Tenn. (Wikipedia map)|
"The act provides that if a school receives federal aid and has a 'limited open forum,' or at least one student-led non-curriculum club that meets outside of class time, it must allow additional such clubs to be organized and must give them equal access to meeting spaces and school publications," Justice writes for the Lakeway Publishers twice-weekly. "Exceptions can be made for groups that 'materially and substantially interfere with the orderly conduct of educational activities within the school,' and a school can technically 'opt out' of the act by prohibiting all non-curriculum clubs."
Dr. Amie Lonas, Franklin County Schools director, told Justice, "We have been advised by legal counsel not to deny the club the right to meet if they followed the board policy for establishment. If we choose not to allow this club to be established, then we would be required to prohibit all non-curriculum clubs or give up federal funding. All clubs meet outside the instructional hours of 8 a.m. and 3 p.m., and attendance is voluntary for students."