Students at various area high schools are trying to organize Gay-Straight Alliances as others across the country have, but some of them are running into resistance from principals and superintendents.
Debate over whether GSAs should be allowed to meet in schools has been percolating across the country in the past eight years and has now arrived in Harris County. Klein [High School] students say their application has been held up, and students at Cypress Falls and Jersey Village high schools in the Cypress-Fairbanks Independent School District say their requests this year have been turned down.
Proponents point to court decisions allowing GSAs to meet under the Equal Access Act, a federal law passed to protect students' First Amendment rights. The act prohibits publicly funded schools from discriminating against the establishment of student clubs based on their points of view.
These clubs remain rare in this region, however. The Chronicle asked the 58 school districts in the eight-county metropolitan area if they have any alliances in their high schools. All but three districts responded, though information provided by the Houston Independent School District was incomplete.
The survey found only three GSAs currently meeting in 123 area high schools: Bellaire and Reagan in HISD and La Porte in La Porte ISD.
Opponents of such groups say it is inappropriate for schools to promote gay rights and fear the clubs will turn into dating services where kids will talk about sex and seek partners.
"Their behavior is risky behavior that results in disease and death," said Kathy Haigler of Houston, executive director of the Texas Eagle Forum, a conservative pro-family organization. "We would be against a high school allowing them to meet together. It'd be like having a smoking club or a drinking club. It's unhealthy behavior.
"Why would the schools want to promote minors having sexual discussions with each other?"
"I'm not interested in knowing about the other people's sex lives and not interested in having people know about mine," said Amanda Dillon, a 16-year-old junior at Jersey Village High who came out as a lesbian her freshman year.