September 24, 2021

Indiana ACLU Files Lawsuit On Behalf Of LGBTQ Student Club Alleging Unfair Treatment

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Article origination IPBS-RJC
The lawsuit alleges the school's principal does not consider the Pendleton Heights GSA Club as an "official" student-led club, despite allowing it to meet on campus after school. - (Lauren Chapman/IPB News)

The lawsuit alleges the school's principal does not consider the Pendleton Heights GSA Club as an "official" student-led club, despite allowing it to meet on campus after school.

(Lauren Chapman/IPB News)

The American Civil Liberties Union of Indiana is suing a high school in central Indiana on behalf of an LGBTQ+-focused student club, alleging unfair treatment by the school principal.

The newly filed suit claims the Gay-Straight Alliance club at Pendleton Heights High School has been prevented from advertising on the school's radio station and bulletin boards. Court documents also say the school principal has prevented the club from fundraising on school property. 

ACLU of Indiana's advocacy strategist Kit Malone said other student clubs are allowed to promote themselves on campus.

"It appears from examining the way the school works, examining the student handbook, that there are a number of other school clubs that are allowed to advertise their events," she said.

READ MORE: Demonstrators Rally To Support Transgender Catholic Students, Protest Archdiocese

The school district's student-club policy grants principals the authority to determine whether non-curricular clubs can meet on school property and use facilities. It also says clubs granted the right to meet on school property "shall be provided the same rights and access" subject to school administrative guidelines. 

Malone said the goal of the lawsuit is to ensure equal treatment for LGBTQ+ students.

"That they have access to the same rights and privileges that all other student organized clubs at their school have," she said. 

Malone said if the school reverses course, the lawsuit could go away, but it remains unclear how the school and district plan to respond.

The school corporation did not provide comment for this story. 

Contact reporter Jeanie at jlindsa@iu.edu or follow her on Twitter at @jeanjeanielindz.

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