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Anger Over LGBT Club Prompts Rutherford Charter School To Suspend All Club Activity

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A K-12 charter school in Rutherford County has suspended all club activities after parents voiced concern over the presence of a lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender club.Parents at Lake Lure Classical Academy and members of the surrounding community spoke out at the charter’s board meeting last week against the existence of the school’s LGBT club. The Daily Courier of Forest Cityreported a grandmother of a Lake Lure student said the club's use of a poster meant she had to explain the term "gay" to her grandchild. The Daily Courier also reported a local pastor spoke out against the club.

Lake Lure board chair Chris Braund said parents and citizens at the meeting spoke passionately on both sides of the issue and asked the board to take a position. The board decided to suspend all club activities, Braund said, because it needs time to consider a response.

"The school board hadn’t had a chance to really understand the issues, the laws, what our legal exposure was, whatever actions and policies would be put in place," he said.

North Carolina American Civil Liberties Union legal director Chris Brook says as a public school, Lake Lure cannot legally ban the LGBT club because of federal legislation called the Equal Access Act that requires public schools to treat all extracurricular clubs equally.

"The courts have spoken with near unanimity holding that the Equal Access Act protects the right of GSAs (gay-straight alliances) and other similar clubs to meet in public schools," he said.

Braund says the board plans to make a determination at its December meeting.

Lake Lure one of ten North Carolina charters managed through TeamCFA, a national charter management organization founded and headed by conservative billionaire John Bryan.

Jess is WUNC's Fletcher Fellow for Education Policy Reporting. Her reporting focuses on how decisions made at the North Carolina General Assembly affect the state's students, families, teachers and communities.
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