Why Does Clovis High School Want to Ban After School Clubs?

Let’s say you’re a high school administrator who wants to make sure a Gay Straight Alliance group can’t form. (How *dare* those students act like homosexuality is acceptable?!)

At a public school, it’s illegal to ban that one group alone. So what can you legally do?

Ban every single club at the school, of course.

That’s what a superintendent and school board in Clovis, New Mexico planned to vote on last night:

The chess and key clubs, Future Farmers of America, the Fellowship of Christian Athletes and other student clubs at Clovis High School likely would be dissolved under a proposed policy that some say is really targeted at a student gay-straight alliance.

The Clovis school board is scheduled to vote Tuesday on the policy, which would eliminate all noncurricular clubs and activities at Clovis High.

Clovis Superintendent Terry Myers denied the alliance request is related to the policy vote.

To get a little more specific, here’s the current policy for after-school clubs:

The Superintendent may approve the establishment of student organizations appropriate to grade levels within the District.

Here’s what it could be changed to:

The Board of Education establishes a “closed forum” for the secondary schools of the School District. Only student organizations which are “curriculum-related” shall be approved and allowed to meet during “non-instructional time”.

Ugh. What an awful thing to do.

Superintendent Terry Myers says this vote has nothing to go with the proposed GSA group, but another source says otherwise.

Check out what one reader said in an email:

My mother is a teacher at this high school and overheard one of the board members say “…if this doesn’t pass they’ll want to set up one of those evil Atheist clubs”.

I can’t verify that, but it goes right along with the mentality of these kinds of bigots. If students want to get together to discuss a view they don’t approve of, they’ll do anything to put a stop to it, even if it means shutting down after-school Christian clubs.

It’s a horrible idea. Non-curricular clubs are one of the best things about a high school education. As one commenter says here:

Kids who are actively involved in clubs are more responsible, more motivated, and more likely to have high self-esteem. It doesn’t matter what club it is, whether A/V club, glee club, cooking club or being apart of the football team. It is a valuable way for kids to be active and constructive in their community. Clubs, like art club, and student government can give kids the opportunity to acquire college scholarships and grants.

This conversation is not about gay rights, or advocating the ‘homosexual agenda’ it is about whether or not Clovis High School wants to provide the best education for their students.

Any school board that would choose to shut down non-curricular groups are hurting the students. And they should be voted out of their seats as soon as possible.

(Thanks to Bill for the link)

***Update***: The board unanimously voted to ban all non-curricular clubs from meeting during school, but it will allow approved groups to meet before or after school.

I haven’t had a chance to look more into this update, but on the surface, it looks ok to me. The GSA isn’t banned. Neither is the Christian club. Non-academic clubs like those will just meeting outside of school hours. Frankly, I thought that’s what they already did. (When would they meet during school hours?) If anyone can provide more insight into this, it’d be very helpful.

  • qwertyuiop

    ***Update***: The board unanimously voted to ban all non-curricular clubs from meeting during school, but it will allow approved groups to meet before or after school.

    The two most important words being “approved groups”.

  • Revyloution

    Hrm, I imagine that this just limits the types of events like ‘ask an atheist’. When I was in FBLA back in Highschool, we got permission to miss school for a couple of big events. I imagine this measure will prevent all the kids from taking advantage of that.

  • http://www.twitter.com/marajade13 Mara Jade

    I know that when I went to high school, our GSA would meet during school sometimes if it was a special day. Like on National Coming Out Day we had a table set up in the main lunch room telling students about the day and handing out stickers or buttons or things of that sort…
    And on the Day of Silence, during lunches and during the first block of school, we would have a table set up selling t-shirts, handing out stickers to indicate if you are a vocal supporter or a silent participant and even handing out little information blurbs for the silent participants to use to explain their silence.
    Not to mention there’s the Ask an Atheist Day… Run by all those evil Atheists…
    I wonder if things like that would be forbidden under this new policy. I mean it’s not really having a meeting, but they are doing things during school hours.

  • Gianna

    I live in in the next time over and must say it is the edge of the bible belt. In my college biology class the prof apologized for even mentioning evolution 3 times! I have to stay “in the closet” as an atheist for fear my elderly mother will be harassed or even have the house attacked. It is truly a sad place if you are in the least different from the white christian norm.
    It in no way would surprise me if it was just to stop 1 group.

  • Danielle

    When I was in high school, our GSA met once a week during the 20 minutes between 2nd and 3rd hour. This was called silent reading time, and in this period you could go to clubs, the guidance counselor, the library, or stay in your 2nd hour class and read or work on homework. If we had more we needed to do, we would meet during lunch.

    One of the best things our GSA did was teach in the mandatory health classes for a day about sexual preference or identity based harassment. We wouldn’t have been able to do that if we couldn’t meet during school hours. For the Day of Silence, we made announcements for 2 weeks prior, and set a table up to pass out little rainbow pins, cards to explain the protest, and get students to sign a giant banner saying they will participate. We got about 20% school participation in that, and we wouldn’t have been able to if we couldn’t meet during school hours. In fact, nearly all of our events were to raise awareness at school. If we weren’t allowed to meet during school, it would have been very hard to get anyone to notice except those who already care.

    I think this set up worked really well at our school. Most of our students were pretty poor, and had to take the bus to and from school. If they couldn’t participate in club activities during the school day, they just wouldn’t have participated at all.

  • JoeBuddha

    Wouldn’t sports teams count as after school clubs? Football and Basketball are hardly curricular.

  • http://Spinozasbicycle.blogspot.org Mike G.

    Wow, what is more surprising than gay people in Clovis, is people in Clovis! I figured everyone would have left by now….

  • Yoav

    Part of the aim of such policies is to turn the other students against the gay or atheist or whatever other group the administrators disapprove off. The massage they will send to the student body is that it’s all THA GAYZ fault that their clubs can’t meet and everything would have been better if gays just stayed in the closet and didn’t make good christians all uncomfortable.

  • Daniel

    Wondering if lunch counts as school hours. Almost all of our clubs meet at lunch, and a ban on meeting any time between 7:30 and 2:30 would go a long way in curtailing membership in those clubs.

    For the GSA or future atheist clubs, I also see this having an effect on club membership of out students. Hard to explain why you are staying late.

  • CanadianNihilist

    Even if lunch hour counts as school hours they can’t ban a group of friends hanging around and talking about subjects that interest them.

    If all clubs have to stay late I don’t think that will be a problem Daniel. You could just be in the chess club.

  • Sam L.

    What’s next, canceling quidditch?

  • Michael

    Uggh. I grew up 19 miles south of Clovis in Portales, NM. This is typical of the area and that is why I left as soon as I could. It gets better kids, it gets better.

  • http://katcox.wordpress.com kat

    I live in Albuquerque, which is, ya’ know, a couple thousand times bigger than Clovis, and a three-hour drive away, but the local news is covering this pretty extensively, and my friends who work for the ACLU are rather up in arms over it.
    To some extent, I think the banning of non-curricular clubs meeting during school hours solves a lot of problems — separation of church and state, for one. I think this brings about a sort of equality to groups that I approve of. If the Christian Bible study can’t meet during school hours, then I don’t feel like the school board is being unfair here.

    However, as the kid who wanted to found the GSA was quoted as saying on local news outlets this morning, they’re afraid this ruling will make the GSA seem “less important” or “less real” than other clubs. Which, of course, would be true of the Bible clubs, too, wouldn’t it?

  • Chris Seguin

    This little dictator superintendent should be fired quit publicly – and if that rumor is correct from your email – fear of atheist – then every thinking parent should take their kids out of the school and put them elsewhere – or else get together and demand the superintendent’s resignation – and stipulate that you will pursue the school board if they are rehired under any capacity that includes the teaching of children. Let them be a custodian or work in the cafeteria’s kitchen . . . . with no contact with children. Poisonous pigs like this need eradication.

  • http://blaghag.com Jennifurret

    My high school only allowed curricular clubs for this exact reason. Wouldn’t let us start a GSA after two years of trying…and that was 5 years ago. Still won’t let students start a GSA :(

  • Paineroo

    “…if this doesn’t pass they’ll want to set up one of those evil Atheist clubs”

    To be fair, they probably should ban groups specifically targeting the atheists that are evil (as well as clubs for evil choir singers, evil chess players, etc).

  • Edmond

    I agree with JoeBuddha, all sports will have to go also. There are no “football classes” or “basketball classes” that would represent a curricular relationship justifying the teams to exist.

  • http://cultwords.blogspot.com P.

    I would assume most of this is just to appease overprotective conservative parents who don’t want “those gays” in school “during school hours” “converting our children” by being gay around them? I could see some clubs happening during lunches– I know our student council executives all have the same lunch period put into their schedules so they can meet, and it’s not uncommon for student-run music ensembles to sneak a lunch period here or there (although that’s usually “co-curricular” according to the department).

    And Paineroo, you’re absolutely right. We evil choir singers need to be stopped. Only good choir students allowed! (bahahah, do those exist? xD)

  • Maseca

    My daughter is part of the GSA at her high school, and they meet during lunch once a week. I imagine lunch counts as being “during school hours”.

    She and a couple of her friends have pondered starting a Secular Student Alliance at their school. We live in a pretty liberal location (Burbank, CA), so I doubt they’d get much push-back. That said, she had a lot of negative reaction when they participated in the Day of Silence, so anything is possible, even in a town overrun with Hollywood-types.

  • http://aboutkitty.blogspot.com/ Cat’s Staff

    I seem to remember something like this happening in Montana (I think) in the 90′s. They had to cancel sports as well. Sports are considered an extra-curricular club just like the chess club and everything else. They could be at risk of losing funding under Title IX if they allow sports but not allow a GSA group to meet on the same terms.

  • http://www.correntewire.com chicago dyke

    as a former college admissions officer for a USN top 20 school, i hope everyone knows: this super isn’t just being petty and childish, he’s also ruining the chances of his top students when it comes to selective college admissions. you can kiss harvard goodbye, Clovis freshmen. if you don’t have any clubs or activities on your application, we’re not even going to skim the rest of your package.

    elite schools hardly notice places like this as it is. top colleges recruit at elite/private high schools, while kids from schools like clovis can drive out and visit campus on their own time, if they can afford it. for a kid from a school like clovis to get accepted at Yale or Stanford or other top schools, they *must* have extensive off-campus experience. sports, clubs, jobs, volunteer work… it’s not just straight As that get you into Chicago. sometimes the fact that one student was president of the debate club gets him in a spot that he was competing for with an academically equal other student, but whom who was only a member or not even a member of any club at all.

    if i were a parent with kids in this system i’d be organizing a recall effort of this bozo, immediately.

  • http://grace-filled.net jen

    The meetings “during school” probably take place at lunch. That’s when ours met.

  • http://slantrhyme.wordpress.com/ slantrhyme

    I wonder how long it will take until the Clovis High School GSA gets all or most of its members to meet at the same lunch table under a sign or banner saying:

    “Don’t worry, this is not a club! We’re just a bunch of gay kids who happen to be sitting together while coincidentally plotting the next steps in advancing the homosexual agenda.”

    Or something like that.

    Unless kids have changed drastically since I left high school, they’re experts at coming up with pretty much the coolest ways to get around arcane and inane rules that only frustrate the administration even more.

    More power to them.

  • Hounddoggy

    Everything could be “curricular” if you work at it. Sports=gym, Food Club=Home Ec., Gay=Sociology/Pshycology, FFA=Agriculture….etc etc.. Religious clubs could also be Sociology.
    There are always loop-holes for those with the right connections.

  • Tate

    Hey I’m a long time reader, first time commenter. I felt the need to comment because my school is kind of in a similar (although not quite as ridiculous) situation at the moment. This year, some students were trying to start a GSA at my high school. I think that they got turned down (I live in a small town in Iowa, the school board can be pretty closed minded). After that failed attempt, they kept trying, but just called it a Diversity Club. My dad is the superintendant of the school district, and he told me that the school board simply avoided voting on whether or not to allow the club. My dad (a christian) told me that he wants to allow the club, but he can’t really let the students since he technically isn’t a part of the board. I wish that more people could show tolerance and do their job like my dad does, even if they don’t exactly agree because of religious reasons.

  • NMguest

    They did finally allow the formation of the club.
    http://www.cnjonline.com/news/alliance-43207-straight-gay.html
    However, the school website does not list it, and as far as I know, the club is not active. I do have a child that goes to this school.

    • http://friendlyatheist.com Richard Wade

      Thank you for the update, NMguest.  Even if the club is not immediately active, the foundation for its existence has been established, so when and if students want to start it, they should be able to without further impediment. 

      Well done Steven De Los Santos and the other enlightened students involved!


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