A North Carolina K-12 charter school has caved to parents and shut down all student clubs over concerns about the inclusion of a student LGBT group.
The Daily Courier reported that parents and other members of the community “blindsided” the Lake Lure Classical Academy board of directors at a meeting on Friday after students formed the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Club.
On grandmother reportedly complained to the board that she would have to explain the meaning of “gay” and “lesbian” to her grandchild because of the club.
“Another citizen told the board since it is a public school it has the ability to do away with the club,” The Daily Courier noted. “He said he did not have a child at Lake Lure, but if he did he would take them out immediately. He said the only diversity the school needs is the Bible.”
Lake Lure Baptist Church Pastor Anton Roos warned that attendance at the school would dwindle if the LGBT club was allowed to continue.
Roos said that it was unfair that the “Raptors for Christ Club” was not allowed to hang posters in the school but he said that the LGBT club was allowed to kick off with an “advertising campaign.” And the pastor asserted that, Layne Long, the teacher who sponsored the LGBT students, should be disciplined.
“This [LGBT] club was put together by a teacher and I would like to know what action was taken against her,” Roos said. “We are in a time in which you as a board need to take a stand. We have entrusted [School Director Jessica Boland] with our children and you have failed them.”
Long explained that she had been happy to let students meet in her room when they came to her with the idea of starting an LGBT club.
“This is not a religious club. This is a human rights club,” Long observed. “My father is a Christian and I’ve been brought up to understand that God is love. Jesus wants to help people.”
She pointed out that posters from the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network (GLSEN) were displayed in schools across the country.
“I had researched GLSEN over the summer and ordered some stuff. I gave one poster to our guidance counselor who hung it in her office,” Long recalled. “Then when the student told me she wanted to start a club, I gave her the poster and she hung it up. I’m extremely proud of my students. If there was no need for this club to exist in this school, it would not exist.”
School board member Mike Harrington responded to the discussion with a motion to suspend all club activity pending a review from the school’s legal team. The motion passed with a 5-3 vote.
“This topic of clubs has created a strong difference of opinions in the LLCA family and it concerns me greatly because this is a school of choice,” Harrington remarked. “I didn’t like coming into this meeting and being blindsided, I didn’t know anything about this issue until today. This situation is bad management on our part and there is work that needs to be done.”
In a letter to parents on Monday, the board said that the Policy Committee of Lake Lure Classical Academy would put together a proposal prior to the Dec. 10 board meeting.
“It is our hope that club activities will be reinstated, clear guidelines and policies written, and path forward for the creation and operation of existing and future clubs/groups at that time,” the statement said. “We encourage all parents and community members to stand in support of our school and the Policy Committee as we seek to resolve this issue. ”
According to NC Policy Watch, Lake Lure Classical Academy is the only school in the Lake Lure area. It is a charter school backed by libertarian billionaire John Bryan, but it also receives public funds from North Carolina taxpayers.