Student wants to form gay-straight alliance amid bullying; School says no

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LAKE COUNTY, Fla. - A Lake County student said her school is denying her right to start a gay-straight alliance.

Eighth-grade student Bayli Silberstein said students are being bullied at Leesburg's Carver Middle School, but for two years the administration has denied her request to form the group.

WFTV has learned that the American Civil Liberties Union is getting involved.

The ACLU sent the school district's attorney a letter that says if officials at the school do not let the girl start her group, taxpayers could have to pay for an expensive lawsuit.

"It's not something kids our age should have to deal with," said Silberstein.

Silberstein said she and her friends were tormented in school for their sexual preferences.

"It hurt, and that is something that I did not want to see continuing," said Silberstein.

She said said that last school year she and her friends had enough and tried to form a gay-straight alliance to combat the bullying. She said the principal wouldn't let them.

Silberstein said she tried again when her friends moved on to high school.

In November, the 14-year-old took her proposal to the new principal at the school, but she said the principal has been dragging her feet.

"I saw that she was listening. She said her biggest thing was that she thought we were going to be singling ourselves out even more," said Silberstein.

Silberstein's mother contacted the ACLU, who in turn sent the letter to the district demanding they let the kids start the group.

The letter cited cases the ACLU has won, which they said cost taxpayers hundreds of thousands of dollars in legal fees.

Lake County school officials told WFTV that decisions like the one in this case are usually up to the principal They said the district's attorney is reviewing the letter so they can make the correct decision.

"I think that they believe if I move on to the high school they won't have to deal with it, and I am not going to let that happen," said Silberstein.