In April 2009, we were contacted by students in the Onslow County School System (OCSS) concerning their difficulty in starting a Gay-Straight Alliance student organization (GSA) at Swansboro High School.
The students advised us that they are interested in forming this student organization in order to combat anti-gay harassment and discrimination and to educate the school community about the importance of equality and tolerance for diversity. Further, the students informed us that OCSS may be utilizing internet filtering software for school computers that improperly censor websites advocating the fair treatment of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) persons. Finally – and incredibly – one of the students approached a school official to ask about forming a GSA and to report anti-gay harassment by other students, and in response, this very school official subjected the student to anti-gay harassment. As such, we sent a letter to the Onslow County school board attorney on May 5, 2009, advising the school district of its obligations under the Equal Access Act and seeking documents about their web filtering software.
On May 28, 2009, the school board attorney advised us that “a student request to start a Gay-Straight Alliance Club will be provided the same access to school resources and privileges, and subject to the same school rules and procedures applicable to non-curriculum clubs.” We recently received documents responsive to our public records request and are currently reviewing those documents.