Lake Co. Schools to allow Gay-Straight Alliance club at middle school



TAVARES, Fla. - A middle school student won her fight to form a gay-straight alliance at her school.

The Lake County School system announced Thursday that a consent order has been signed that will allow a Gay-Straight Alliance student club to meet at Carver Middle School until the end of this school year.

The school system said in a press release that it is working to resolve a federal lawsuit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union on behalf of 8th grade student Bayli Silberstein.

"There is no way I can describe how happy I am right now. I haven't stopped smiling since," said Silberstein.

After months of what some considered school board stonewalling, the board's attorney and Silberstein's ACLU lawyer worked out a deal Thursday.

The issue of the Gay-Straight Alliance has been a contentious one in Lake County for several months after Silberstein approached her school about starting the club.

"The discussion on this issue has been complex and longer than anticipated," said Dr. Susan Moxley, Superintendent of Lake County Schools, in the press release. "The policy discussion will continue; however, this specific school and student request is being resolved within current laws and guidelines."

The school board met Monday to discuss several items, including revising the student clubs and organizations policy.

"I'm just so happy that our club is finally going to be allowed to meet," said Silberstein in a press release from the ACLU. "There's only about a month left of school, but that's still a month we can use to start doing the work to make this school a safer and more welcoming place."

Silberstein was in the spotlight from the beginning of the school year, insisting the club was the only way to stop the bullying of gay students at Carver Middle School.

She spoke out at public hearings and held news conferences.

Last month in a split vote, the board approved the club, but at its next meeting, members tabled the issue. The delay triggered legal action by the ACLU.

The school board agreed to the deal less than a day after the suit was filed.

"They were going to get sued. That's kind of a big deal for the school board," Silberstein said.