• Lake Co. School Board votes for initial approval to allow gay-straight alliance club


    LAKE COUNTY, Fla. - The Lake County School Board voted Monday night to allow non-academic clubs to continue in the middle schools and high schools.

    The controversy started after a group of students at Carver Middle School in Leesburg tried to start a gay-straight alliance club.

    When the club was initially denied, the American Civil Liberties Union pressured the board to either allow it or ban all extracurricular clubs.

    In a 3-2 vote on Monday night, the School Board said the clubs could continue to operate, but students would need parents' permission to participate.

     A large crowd was at Monday's meeting in Tavares. Forty-three rose to express opinions to the board. The other option was to eliminate all non-academic clubs.

    Bayli Silberstein is at the center of the push to start the gay-straight alliance club. The 14-year-old claims anti-gay bullying is out of hand in Lake County schools.

    "When they have a clear shot to say something without getting in trouble, they'll usually take it," Silberstein said.

    "If we can't take each individual club and decide whether its content is suitable for those youngest students, then we can't have any of those other clubs," said board member Tod Howard.

    A plane flew over the district building before the meeting Monday evening with a banner reading, "Stand with Bayli, not the bullies."

    After the meeting Silberstein said she didn't understand the uproar over what she did.

    "I keep getting called, 'brave.' You just get taught in kindergarten to standup for what you believe in.  Someone finally does it and it's a big deal. I don't understand that," said Silberstein.

    The board will have one more meeting for final approval of the decision.

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