Tavares, FL - Thursday, Apr. 25, 2013
by Vance Jochim - FiscalRangers.com - UPDATES will be added to this document as received.
The Lake County Board meeting this past Monday, April 22nd, included an agenda item for the second and final vote to approve extra-curricular clubs at Lake County middle schools, which would include a proposed Gay Straight Alliance club (GSA) at Carver Middle School which many people objected to because they believed 6th & 7th graders should not be confronted with groups focuses on sexual lifestyles. The only other alternative allowed by the Federal “Equal Access” law was to prohibit all extra-curricular clubs, including those focused on community service, Christian groups, etc. but it would also exclude the GSA club.
Note: This blog writer was against formation of Gay Clubs at Middle Schools (see why in attachment below). This picture taken from the right side of the room, which had about 1/3 of the audience in the "Communist Red" shirts, indicating support of the liberal coordinated GSA club. The other 2/3 on the far side of the room were LOCALS who were against it. Plus there were many sitting outside this filled room watching on monitors. Normally, Lake County Democrats wear blue shirts to political events, but for these GSA events, they all wore Communist red (not Republican Red! :) )
I had figured that 2/3rds of the audience were against the GSA club because about 150+ were from the Tri-County Tea Party (Villages), plus many more from local churches. The Right Side blog says 3/4ths of audience were against it and 17 Church pastors were there to give input.
However, the same day, the Florida legislature passed, and Gov. Scott signed a large education bill, SB-1076 (2013) that revised current law to change definitions of what schools were subject to the Equal Access Law. That meant Lake County Middle Schools were not considered secondary schools, and the Equal Access Law only required the all or no extracurricular club decision for secondary schools, thus middle schools were no longer covered by the law. However, MY understanding (see the Orlando Sentinel article below) is that the law didn’t really say how much authority the local School Districts had to be selective in what extra-curricular clubs would be allowed. Thus it could be tested in the courts. THAT is why the Board tabled any vote, in order to research the new bill and understand implications.
Here is the link to Senate Bill SB-1076 (2013) - read the staff analysis reports to understand issues. This is a large omnibus bill, not just covering the issue of clubs at middle schools. I don't yet have the link to the applicable section on this issue, but will add it later.
Neither local newspaper mentioned that this time, a huge majority FROM Lake County was NOT wearing the Communist red shirts favored by the Democrat organized, pro-GSA group where many came from outside Lake County. They didn't mention the LOCAL majority was AGAINST the formation of the GSA club.
Here is the Daily Commercial article by Greg Jones:
Here is the Orlando Sentinel report on this vote, and they include a “Fair & Balanced” 2 min video from Fox 35 showing crying kids, but a majority clapping upon the vote to table the issue. (see the link below for my FULL 15 min video with NO ads for all the details leading to the vote to table the issue.
Here is the link to the Orlando Channel 9 TV video report by a reporter who rarely visits Lake County and focused mostly on the GSA supporters. BUT, if you read the provided TEXT, which is different because it was provided by the DAY shift reporter Berndt Petersen, who DOES frequently visit Lake County, it cites a couple of comments from this blog's author, Vance Jochim.
Attached are some of my pictures of the event. 2/3 to 3/4ths of the audience were AGAINST allowing a sexually oriented club in middle schools, and clapped when the vote was tabled. One fuzzy picture shows a pro-GSA man (not in
red) accosting Board Member Bill Mathias after the vote. Democrats always resort to yelling and name calling when they don't get their way. All my pictures of this event are in a photo album on the FiscalRangers Facebook account HERE.
Also attached are my “talking points” I was going to use for public input at Monday’s meeting. You might look at the excerpts from the Communist objectives that apply to this issue.
AND, here is a link to my Youtube video on the entire 15 minute Board discussion about the agenda item and the vote to table it. The School District attorney explains the new law, which is quite helpful for understanding the issue.
Initially, no one would give a second to Bill Mathias’s motion to table the issue for a future meeting in order to examine the implications of the new law, then after discussion, he got a second, and the vote was 4 to 1 (Brandeburg dissented) to table the issue to the future. It could be that the Board members now saw the huge crowd NOT wearing red from LOCAL groups. Many of the pro-GSA red shirt advocates were from OUTSIDE Lake County. Some Board members might also have been ticked off by the huge volume of emails trying to intimidate them from GSA supporters from OUTSIDE Lake County and OUTSIDE Florida.
The School Board will discuss this issue again after getting analysis on the implications of the new law and recommendations from the District's Attorney. No date has been set yet.
Thanks go to the Tri-County Teaparty, and local church members who showed up in force to offset the out of Lake County liberals and ACLU legal bullies whose attendance was coordinated by the Lake County Democrats. This was a good slamdown of the Tampa based ACLU office which is currently bragging on their website about similar lawsuits in Polk County.
My opinion is that poor 8th grader Baylie is now on a liberal leash with all events being coordinated by liberals who have other objectives than the formation of her club. They are making her into a poster child for liberal causes. However, she will be graduating from Carver Middle School in a month, and will be at a High School, not a middle school, thus not eligible to form a middle school club.
I am not against gays living their lifestyles privately, but when they use the ACLU bullies, and the Democratic party organizes media events, asks people from the entire country to inundate local elected officials with emails to demand their way of life be provided to SIXTH graders in middle schools without living here, I resent that. And, now , apparently 4 of 5 of our Lake County School Board members and 2/3's of those attending the meeting agree and are tired of the liberal activist Gay "in your face" programs to spread their lifestyle.
Here is a picture of the NORMAL School Board meeting after the GSA agenda item was concluded. Several red shirted liberals hung around loudly stating they didn't trust the Board which might bring the subject back up for a formal vote. After listening to routine administrative issues discussed by the Board for 20 minutes the liberals left. The Board didn't play those games, and didn't even discuss the GSA issue at all, even during Board member "reports".
Text of referenced newspaper articles (in case they turn off the links later):
Daily Commercial article by Greg Jones
School Board to restart work on gay-straight alliance club
Greg Jones | Staff Writer firstname.lastname@example.org | Posted: Tuesday, April 23, 2013 9:00 am
The Lake County School Board on Monday night at the Lake County Administration Building tabled a measure that would have allowed non-curricular clubs and organizations in middle and high schools.
The board vote d 4-1 to table the measure. Only Rosanne Brandeburg voted against de laying the measure. The board will likely have a workshop next month to work out a new policy related to allowing non-curricular clubs and organizations in middle or high schools.
The vote brought more then 400 people in support or against the motion allowing non-curricular clubs and organizations in middle and high schools. The delay of the measure holds off allowing an eighth-grade girl, Bayli Silberstein, 14, to start a Gay-Straight Alliance Club at Carver Middle School.
The decision to table the measure will restart the process from the beginning. Board Chairwoman Kyleen Fischer said she hopes to h ave a workshop soon and a new policy in place before the beginning of school in
August. The board will conduct a workshop and have a first hearing. Then the board will advertise the final approval for 28 days before taking a last vote on a new policy.
“I’m sorry this had to get delayed,” Fischer said. “I think that was the feeling of the table that the topic needs to be delayed because of changing legislation.”
Board member Debbie Stivender, the board vice chair, said her goal would be to have a new policy in place before school starts in August. She said based on state legislation changing, the board was going to have to develop a new policy regardless of how anyone feels about the GSA club.
Brandeburg said she didn’t want to postpone the decision because she wanted the more than 400 people who showed up to have an opportunity to be heard.
“These people came out to speak, and I wanted to give them an opportunity to speak,” Brandeburg said. “We could have still listened to them and by postponing this we are starting this whole process over, and it will come back. Part of it is to get more and a better understanding of what this new bill states, but I don’t believe — even what Mr. Johnson had said — that it really pertains to extra-curricular clubs. It pertains to more of what classes can middle school students can take that will count for high school credit. Can you take dual-enrollment courses and things like that. We will learn more then go from there.”
During the meeting, Mathias’ first motion failed but his second motion was approved. He moved to table the motion because he wanted the board to determine the direction it should go before making a decision on a policy that will change in a few months as Gov. Rick Scott on Monday signed new legislation which specifically affects the state’s definition of secondary schools, a key point in the local debate. The new legislation will take effect on July 1.
Joyce Hamilton Henry, the Mid Regional Director for the ACLU of Florida, didn’t agree with the decision and was hoping the board would make a final call. She said she is concerned about the environment that is being created by the board and the decision is harming the students. She said the ACLU will examine what happens at the next meeting and make a decision based on that.
Silberstein was emotional after the decision, while a huge cheer came from those against the GSA Club. She said she is willing to go to the state level to help get the law changed. Silberstein admitted she was surprised at the number of people who showed up to protest the measure and that the board tabled it.
“Right now, I’m not really sure exactly what I’m going to do,” she said. “I’m going to wait for the next meeting. We (kids) were taught to stand up and fight for what we believe in, and they are fighting so hard to deny my rights on what I can do, and it is really difficult to get through that.”
Gene Hill, 74, a Mount Dora resident, who has four grandchildren who attend Lake County schools, believes outside forces such as the ACLU are pushing this issue. He said he doesn’t believe the voters in Lake County have been given the opportunity to understand what is going on. He said people can have whatever way of life they want, but the schools should be off limits.
“This is about our children, and this is about the protection of our children,” he said. “We have to stand up for our children, and if that is someone’s way of life that is there decision. Children go to school to be education and not to be in a sex program. That is what this is about and about Lake County folks doing what is best for Lake County children.
“Lake County (residents) should stand up. They say, this is about bullying. We have a bullying policy in the schools now, so enforce it. We need to have the parents, teachers and principals to come together and handle the bullying. This is not going to stop bullying. This (GSA Club) is not going to stop bullying it is going to create more problems.”
Last month, the board tentatively agreed to allow non-curricular clubs and organizations in middle and high schools. On March 11th, board members voted 3-2 to allow middle and high schools to have non-curricular clubs and organizations, which will an eight-grade girl, Bayli Silberstein, 14, start a Gay-Straight Alliance Club at Carver Middle School. School board members Bill Mathias and Tod Howard voted against the measure.
Orlando Sentinel by Erica Rodriguez
Lake School Board stalls on new rules affecting gay-straight club
By Erica Rodriguez, Orlando Sentinel
10:25 PM EDT, April 22, 2013
Eighth-grader Bayli Silberstein left Monday night's Lake County School Board meeting blinking back tears after board members voted 4-1 to table a final vote that could have allowed a proposed gay-straight club to form before the end of the school year.
Since November, Bayli, an openly bisexual 14-year-old, has been trying to start a Gay-Straight Alliance at Carver Middle School in Leesburg to combat bullying of her fellow gay classmates.
Monday night more than 350 people packed the Lake County meeting space where the School Board was slated to give a final OK on a rule to allow non-academic student clubs in secondary school. Board members already had voted 3-2 to tentatively allow the clubs but needed a second vote to finalize the policy.
But early in the evening, board members instead said they wanted to take more time to "workshop" the rules in light of a tweak in state law partially called for by School Board members Tod Howard and Bill Mathias. Both men opposed the middle school gay-straight group, suggesting that middle-school children were too young to be discussing gay-straight issues. Mathias recommended to table the issue and was joined by Howard, Chairwoman Kyleen Fischer and fellow board member Debbie Stivender.
"You're talking workshop," Fischer said. "That is the only way we can do this."
Board member Rosanne Brandeburg voted against the tabling, saying said she "wanted the public to be able to speak" and, because of the action, people could not comment on the policy. Brandeburg would not say whether she favored the middle school gay-straight club but said she was against getting rid of all clubs because of one.
The tweak in state law stems from Senate Bill 1076, which was signed by Gov. Rick Scott Monday and goes in effect July 1. The bill muddles which grades are protected by a federal law that bans schools from discriminating against non-academic clubs.
The American Civil Liberties Union, which is backing the gay-straight group, contends that under the federal Equal Access Act, Bayli's club is protected because schools cannot discriminate against non-academic clubs based on the topics they discuss. If a school has one non-academic club, then it must treat others the same, the group holds.
But SB 1076 removes the definition of "secondary" schools and does not replace it with a clear definition, leaving it up for debate as to whether a middle school is protected. The Department of Education also did not provide an explicit definition.
Lake School Board attorney Steve Johnson said that based on his review of other Florida laws, it appears "secondary" schools mean high schools — not middle schools. The School Board, in his opinion, isn't required to apply the federal law to middle schools, and board members can create rules however they want in those grades, he told members. But without any action Monday, campus principals are now left to decide handle school clubs.
Mathias and Howard both publicly called for grades 9-12 to be deemed "secondary," but Mathias said the lack of a clear definition wasn't what he expected. He expects the definition will have to be battled out in court.
The ACLU contends that the federal law still applies to middle schools, but even if it didn't, students still have the right to form the gay-straight group under the First Amendment.
Monday night, the audience equally jeered and applauded Mathias for his recommendation to table the issue. Many were angry because they were not able to speak, and those supporting Bayli called the change in law "dirty politics."
Joyce Hamilton, an ACLU regional director, said she was disappointed by the move and the agency will evaluate whether or not to take legal action.
"I am concerned about the environment that is now created in the school that is being perpetuated by the adults who profess … to have the best interest of all students in mind," she said.
The Rev. Gerald Bustin, of Open Door Community Church in Summerfield, , opposes the group and called it a plan "to adjust the minds of children who have no need to be involved in any kind of sexual activity" in middle school. Bustin added that opponents of the club "got what they were looking for."
Bayli's efforts have been thwarted by a school principal who took no action on her application and School Board members who initially tried to create a ban on all non-academic student clubs rather than allow hers.
After the vote Monday night, Bayli said she was "disappointed" in it, but she would continue to push for her club to organize.
"I'm going to keep fighting," she said. "It's not going to stop me. I'm doing all I can to try and get my club."
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