Lake County school officials to discuss student club policy

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LAKE COUNTY, Fla. —

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) will continue its fight to help a student start a gay alliance club at her middle school Monday.

The group is expected to present the school board with a petition supporting the club.

School leaders said they are considering banning all non-academic clubs.

The discussion is in response to Carver Middle School student Bayli Silberestein's attempt to start a gay-straight alliance club at her school.

Silberestein said she was ignored by school officials, so she contacted the ACLU, which threatened to sue the school district.

The Lake County School Board is scheduled to have the workshop Monday night, but on the table is the hot button issue that's gotten the ACLU involved.

Board member Bill Mathias said his issue isn't with the gay-straight alliance.

He said they're reconsidering the district's club policy as a whole.

"The proposal that I favor is that we would have curriculum-based only in middle school and then an open policy for high school," said Mathias.

Curriculum-based clubs would involve things like math and science, whereas open clubs could include student council, Kiwanis and the gay-straight alliance.

Mathias said he knows people think they're only reviewing policy because of Silberstein's proposal, but said the policy and others were already scheduled for review.

"Science clubs and math clubs and things that help our children in middle school to become academic excellence," said Mathias.

WFTV asked Mathias if he was concerned about cutting potentially beneficial clubs with the new policy.

"If it's found that it's more hurtful than by going closed then I’d be silly to vote for that,” he said.

Mathias said that's why they're having the workshop to try to gather facts and look at a multitude of angles.