After ACLU lawsuit, district allows girl's Gay-Straight Alliance - FOX 35 News Orlando

After ACLU lawsuit, Lake Schools allows girl's Gay-Straight Alliance club

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Bayli Silberstein, 14, says she's been smiling ever since lunch period. That's when she got the news.

"When she told me I could start my club, I was just ecstatic, happy!" she said. "I've been smiling since!"

One day after the American Civil Liberties Union filed a lawsuit on Bayli's behalf against the Lake County School Board, the board agreed to a consent order. In short, it's a compromise. Bayli can have her club, a Gay Straight Alliance (GSA), at Carver Middle School for the remainder of this year.

It's a victory for her, but it's far from winning the war.

"It was just for this one specific case, this one school, this one particular student," said Christopher Patton, Communications Officer for Lake County Public Schools. "That's what the lawsuit contended -- that by delaying the decision, the school board had denied this one student access."

Bayli said, "They were trying and putting so much effort into denying my rights and saying that it's not that important to them. That they can ignore so many kids in trouble and in pain because of other students."

FOX 35 caught up with Bayli at the University of Central Florida before she gave a speech to the small crowd at the school's Lavender Celebration, a celebration of the school's Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Questioning (LGBTQ) community. She received news of the consent order just as she was scheduled to speak.

"I think it's absolutely amazing and inspirational!" said Nicholas Simons, LGBTQ spokesman.

After Bayli graduates from Carver Middle School this year, she will attend Leesburg High School, where there is already a GSA club.

Lake County already allows such clubs at the high school level. The debate has always been whether a GSA is suitable in middle or even elementary level schools.

But after Bayli leaves Carver Middle School, the school board can still decide to no longer have the club next year. We asked Bayli's mom about that and she said, "Hopefully, other kids will realize they can make a difference and they can fight for it too!"

The ACLU has been involved in nine successful federal court cases upholding students' rights to form GSA'S at public schools, And they can be pretty expensive for both sides.

The Lake County School Board is picking up its discussion on the future of the Gay Straight Alliance in the county's schools Monday, at 3:30, at Lake Minneola High School.

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