Students in the Kennewick School District are celebrating today because last night the school board restored access to school resources for noncurricular clubs.
In mid-August, the Kennewick School Board had voted to limit these student groups’ access to school newspapers, yearbooks, public address systems, and Associated Student Body funds. Noncurricular clubs affected by this policy decision included, among others, Key Club, National Honor Society, Swing Club, and Gay-Straight Alliances (GSAs). The initial board decision to restrict clubs’ access to school resources appeared to be an attempt to stop GSAs from existing by severely limiting their ability to operate.
GSAs create a safe, welcoming environment for all youth, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity. And they are particularly important for today’s youth because harassment based on sexual orientation is one of the most pervasive and emotionally detrimental threats students face in our public schools.
We were excited to see the students take a stand on this issue. They let the Kennewick School Board know that restricting school resources to GSAs negatively affects all students. We applaud the reversal of the restrictive policy and look forward to all noncurricular clubs once again gaining access to valuable resources.
The ACLU of Washington has assisted GSAs at several high schools when they ran into problems gaining recognition as a club or when it was proposed that their status be put up to a vote by the student government. ( https://aclu-wa.org/news/aclu-provides-legal-help-gay-straight-alliances; https://aclu-wa.org/news/gay-straight-alliance-gains-recognition-federal-way-high-school; https://aclu-wa.org/news/aclu-tells-high-schools-they-must-give-equal-rights-gay-straight-alliance-student-clubs)
For more information on GSAs, click here. For more information on how to prevent harassment and bullying at your school, click here and here.