The American Civil Liberties Union of Indiana last week aided a group of more than 30 East Allen County high school students when it filed a lawsuit against the school corporation, claiming it had imposed “undue, unequal burdens” an LGBTQ+ organization.
Members of the Leo Pride Alliance, a student-led organization designed to provide a safe and supportive environment in schools for LQBTQ+ were denied permission to change the organization’s name to the “Leo GSA,” or the Leo gay-straight alliance.
School administrators allegedly would not allow the name change, insisting the club be called Leo Pride Alliance with “Pride” referring to an acronym used by the school — “Professionalism, Respect, Integrity, Diligence, and Excellence,” the lawsuit says.
“Students at Leo Junior/Senior High School may participate in extracurricular clubs recognized by the school,” said ACLU of Indiana legal director Ken Falk. “By creating additional hurdles for the Leo Pride Alliance, and censoring the group’s name, the school is infringing on these students’ rights.”
The lawsuit also added that alliance members are not allowed to use the words “gay, GSA, or LGBT+, or similar language,” in club announcements or promotions. They also cannot meet outside of a single classroom or participate in school fundraisers.
The lawsuit also says the Leo Pride Alliance faculty adviser is required to send a list of all club members to all faculty. The group also would only be permitted to hang signs on the school bulletin board if members perform community service, a requirement not imposed on any other school organization.
“This group aims to create an environment that provides social, emotional and educational support to students, during a time that otherwise might be increasingly difficult for LGBTQ students,” said Jane Henegar, executive director of ACLU of Indiana. “The differential treatment aimed at Leo Pride Alliance by administrators is unwarranted.”
The ACLU filed its lawsuit against East Allen County Schools alleging violation of the Equal Access Act, First Amendment and Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution. The suit seeks declaratory and injunctive relief.
"We take the rights of our students seriously,” EASC spokeswoman Tamyra Kelly told Indiana Lawyer. “We are looking into this matter".