Controversial vote on Gay Straight Alliance at middle school - FOX 35 News Orlando

Controversial vote on Gay Straight Alliance at middle school could be postponed

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After more than a year of fighting to get a Gay Straight Alliance Club at Carver Middle School, 14-year-old Bayli Silberstein has been eagerly awaiting Monday, when the Lake County School Board is scheduled to make their final vote on whether to allow clubs not based on curriculum to exist in middle schools.

It recently narrowly passed the first vote 3 to 2, but now a school board member is telling FOX 35 that he is going to ask for the vote to be postponed.

"I think its coincidental that it happens right when they're about to finalize the vote for the GSA," said Bayli Silberstein.

The two Lake County School Board members who voted against non-curriculum based clubs in middle schools aren't giving up the fight.    Bill Mathias is now asking state law makers to change the definition of what a secondary school is.

"I encouraged it, the Legislature to change the ages of 6 to 12 as being secondary.  My advocacy was that 9 to 12 be considered secondary.  The federal equal access act, it specifically deals with secondary education," said Mathias.

The federal government requires equal access for all clubs in secondary schools.  If Florida no longer considered grades 6-8 secondary schools, it would be up to the principal or superintendent to decide which clubs are appropriate.

Mathias said that he will request to delay the school board vote until after state lawmakers vote on the secondary school language.  He said it has nothing to do with the Gay Straight Alliance. 

"I'm concerned about an open policy in middle school distracting from what the core business is.  Every month, we'd be dealing with what new club is coming," said Mathias.

Bayli is holding out hope that the Lake County School Board won't postpone Monday's vote. 

"It scares me, because I'll be in high school next year, and I don't know if there will be someone else to fight for it still," she said.


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