Lake County school board could still close all school clubs after approving gay-straight alliance



MINNEOLA, Fla. - The Lake County school board is hearing from supporters and opponents of a controversial student club.

Last week Carver Middle School student Bayli Silberstein won her fight to bring a gay-straight student alliance club to campus.

School leaders need to decide whether that club can meet after this school year ends.

There are six options on the table, and it might take the school board all summer to figure it out.

Those for and against the gay-straight club intend to pressure the board to vote their way.

Six Lake County deputies were standing by outside a special school board meeting that didn't come close to drawing the crowd it was expected to.

Those who did attend said their cause is too important to let go.

Bayli's mother, Erica Silberstein, said members of the school board will try and close all the clubs at the first opportunity.

"At least the clubs they don't like," Erica Silberstein said.

Bayli was at the center of the fight to allow a gay-straight alliance club at Carver Middle School in Leesburg.

Bayli and the American Civil Liberties Union sued, and the club is now allowed to meet until the end of the school year.

Chris Patton with Lake County School said things could change moving forward.

"That lawsuit and that case was for that one student, at that one school, and that one specific request," Patton said.

The Florida Legislature recently removed the definition of a secondary school from state law.

Federal law requires equal access to student clubs in all secondary schools.

In Florida, middle schools are no longer defined as secondary.

Bayli's mother is afraid the board will use that as an excuse to legally ban the club her daughter fought so hard to form.

"It's not about Bayli and her club. It wasn't about just that. It's about GSA being in the middle schools. They belong there," Erica Silberstein said.

A final vote on student clubs is not expected until the end of July.