Gay / Straight Alliance Approved – Waupaca County Post

Little Wolf High School based band

By Holly Neumann

By a 3: 1 vote, the Manawa School Board approved a Gay / Straight Alliance (GSA) club at Little Wolf High School.

Students and community members have spoken on the topic on November 15 at the monthly council meeting.

Senior Grace Tohm followed all protocols, guidelines and rules to start the organization.

“This is a community where gays, straight people and LGBTQ + people come together to provide a safe and welcoming environment for everyone,” she said. “It promotes support, alliance and inclusiveness. It is a question of respecting our differences.

Students Jack O’Brien and Ted Emmert also supported the cause.

“Manawa is a hostile place where people are intimidated all the time,” said O’Brien. “GSA is there to support all students. We want a safe and comfortable environment in our school. We need to have a community to share and help people. We have to make sure Manawa is a better place.

Emmert said it was important for his classmates to have the opportunity to explore their identity differences in a welcoming and inclusive environment.

“As a straight student it is important for me to support my classmates,” he said. “It’s also important that all of us at Little Wolf High School learn to work together through differences.

“I see homophobic ideas almost every day at school,” he said. “The only way to fight this is to show support from staff and students. It is not something that another club can provide.

Teachers show their support

Teachers Sarah Bortle and Carrie Gruman-Trinkner also showed their support.

“I support all the students and I also support the GSA,” Bortle said.

“This is a public forum for the educational alliance and support for students in the LGBTQ + community, their allies and their unique needs,” said Gruman-Trinkner. “It promotes diversity and acceptance while educating others. “

Gruman-Trinkner and Janine Connolly have agreed to serve as club advisers.

Several members of the community spoke out against the club.

“Your decision should not be taken lightly, as you have the duty and the enormous responsibility to be a true representative on all matters,” said Nina Much. “Education must be a priority for this district for this generation and for many to come. To vote on this issue tonight without full and complete disclosure would be a total injustice to all parents, taxpayers and the entire community as a whole, which could have eternal implications.

The borders had been crossed, Much said.

“Schedule meetings and invite students, without parental knowledge or consent, to make choices in the best interests of their own child based on their lifestyle and belief systems,” he said. she declared. “The feeling of deception is valid,” she said.

Nicole Rineck asked why the students were trying to start another bullying club when one already exists.

“If a student is being bullied, they have options,” Rineck said. “Above all, they have their parents. They have the guidance counselors, staff, pastors, and friends. And let’s not forget the social worker that we pay $ 15,000 a year to have in this school.

“Everyone must stay in their own way,” she said. “When students leave high school, they need to be ready for work and society. Let parents teach their children about life experiences, life choices, and values. Let teachers teach and keep the school for educational purposes.

“Make sure all of your decisions reflect the policies you have adopted,” said Stacey Trinrud.

She reminded the board that they are accountable to voters, community members, parents and students and have a responsibility for the safety and protection of all students.

“What you decide here will have lasting effects on the school district and the community of Manawa,” she said. “Make sure that the things you allow in this building are beneficial for the education of all the children. These policies were designed to keep students safe and turn them into honorable members of society. “

Ed O’Brien said that when a student “comes out” it is an intense time for his family.

“The stress on these students is immense, as you cannot imagine,” he said. “They are trying to find out who they are themselves. Slow down the train. If you switch to something like this, you will lose students. I do not agree at this point without further input from parents.

First Amendment Rights

District reading specialist Michelle Johnson highlighted the Federal Equal Access Act of 1984, which prohibits public schools from receiving federal funds if they deny students the First Amendment right to hold meetings because of the “religious, political, philosophical or other content of the speech at such meetings.

This means that if the school allows even one group of out-of-school students to use school facilities, it must give equal access to all groups of students, regardless of orientation or point of entry. view of this group. The law also guarantees the right of students to form a wide range of groups, including gay / straight alliances, Bible study programs, political groups, and specific interest groups.

“Where we allow one club, we have to authorize another,” said board chair Joanne Johnson. “It’s the law.”

Board member Pete Griffin wanted to suspend the vote until the full board was present. He said the parents should have been made aware of the club’s organization.

“We’re missing three board members tonight,” Griffin said. “I think it evolved very quickly. This is not the law we are voting on tonight.

Board member Kerri Jepson asked what delaying the vote would do.

“The law says we have to vote a certain way,” she said. “We have no option.”

Johnson said the board’s program committee made a motion to take the issue to the full board.

“When a club is formed, the district does not normally send parental records home unless the club meets away from the premises,” she said.

After a vote to table the question ended in a tie, a motion to form the GSA was passed with Johnson, Russ Hollman and Jepson voting yes and Griffin voting no.

In other cases

• Griffin reports that the Manawa Athletic Booster Club has already raised $ 42,636 for the new rubber track.

• The board canceled a planned spring trip to Washington, DC for grades 7-9 students. The group would be required to stay in Washington, DC, for an additional 10 days if any of the students were suspected of having COVID-19.

• The board of directors will have two vacant seats for the spring election, with Joanne Johnson (full district) and Russ Johnson (zone 6) for re-election.

A declaration of campaign registration and a declaration of candidacy must be filed by 5 p.m. on Tuesday, January 4 at the school district clerk’s office at 800 Beech St.

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