The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

Local News

October 29, 2013

Board OKs Gay-Straight Alliance club

JOHNSTOWN — A transgender student who unsuccessfully fought for the right to serve as Richland’s homecoming king scored one victory Monday night.

In a unanimous vote, Richland’s school board voted to allow students to create a Gay-Straight Alliance club in the high school – a move proposed by Richland senior Kasey Caron early last month.

The vote gives students interested in forming the group the ability to begin meeting at the school, elect officers and plan activities, Superintendent Thomas Fleming said.

Business education teacher Sandy Myers will serve as the club’s adviser, Fleming added.

“Several students indicated they are ready to get the club off the ground,” he said. “With this approval ... they can do that now, just like any other club at Richland.”

Gay-Straight Alliances have formed in school districts elsewhere in the country to encourage safe, supportive environments for gay, bisexual and transgender individuals as well as their straight allies – and work to battle “phobias” that often exist about them, according to the Gay-Straight Alliance Network website, www.gsanetwork.org.

Caron, who was born a female but identifies as a male transgender, did not attend the meeting and attempts to reach him Monday night were unsuccessful.

Caron requested that the district allow the club’s creation in September, while still fighting to run as a male on the school’s homecoming king court. At the time, the district stuck with a decision permitting Caron to run on the homecoming queen ballot.

The board approved the club request with minimal discussion, although Fleming said the club, as a student organization, would be limited to Richland students only after a board member raised a question about membership.

Like any other club, there’s no minimum number of students required to create a club in the district, he added.

Board member Kathy Glattke, who made the formal motion for the club’s creation, said the students “have the right” to do so.

“They met the requirements. It’s the same as any other club here,” she said.

Fleming said another of Caron’s requests – to include gender identity protections to the school’s anti-bullying policy – is now being reviewed by the school’s policy committee and district solicitor Timothy Leventry.

“We’re taking the requests one at a time,” Fleming said.

David Hurst covers Richland Township and Richland schools for The Tribune-Democrat. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/tddavidhurst.

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