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PRESS RELEASE -- People For the American Way Foundation
http://www.pfaw.org/news/

FOR RELEASE:  November 18, 1999
CONTACT:  Nancy Coleman or Margot Friedman at 202-467-4999
Kendra Huard at 310-478-6657
______________________________________________________________________

  STATEMENT IN SUPPORT OF GAY-STRAIGHT ALLIANCE
  AT EL MODENA HIGH SCHOOL

    "Good evening.  I am Kendra Huard, Acting California Director of People For the American Way Foundation.  Attorneys with People For the American Way Foundation have been retained as legal counsel for two of the student founders of the Gay-Straight Alliance and their mothers.

    "We stand with the students in demanding an end to the violation of their legal rights by this school district.  The law is clear:  the Orange Unified School Board cannot discriminate among non-curricular clubs and it must permit the Gay-Straight Alliance to meet.  Just as the other non-curricular clubs at El Modena High School have the right to meet  --  the Gentleman's Club, the Juggling Club, the Cinema/Music Appreciation Bunch, and the Equestrian Club.  If the school board does not permit the Gay-Straight Alliance to meet and be treated like all other non-curricular clubs, they will leave the students with no real choice but to pursue litigation to vindicate their legal rights.  In the interest of everyone in this school district, we urge the board not to go down that path.

    "We also call on the board to begin healing the wounds they have created in the community by their handling of this matter.  Heal the wounds by explaining to the community that every student in this school district has the right to be treated with respect and dignity.  Heal the wounds by explaining that every high school non-curricular club has the legal right to meet, whatever some members of the community may think about a particular club.  And heal the wounds by setting an example of tolerance and mutual respect for others to follow.

    "The courageous students who have formed the Gay-Straight Alliance have been let down by some of the very people whose job it is to protect them, the officials of this school district.  The board must stand up for the students tonight.

    "Thank you."

______________________________________________________________________

People For the American Way Foundation is a 300,000 member nonpartisan organization which defends constitutional principles and core democratic values.  Earlier this month, PFAW Foundation released "Hostile Climate 1999," a chronicle of anti-gay discrimination nationwide.

      http://www.HostileClimate.org


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People For the American Way Foundation        202 467 4999 phone
2000 M Street, NW,  Suite 400                 202 293 2672 fax
Washington DC 20036                           pfaw@pfaw.org
http://www.pfaw.org