Tennessee Parents Protest Formation of Gay-Straight Alliance, Citing Anti-Christian Discrimination

Parents in Lafayette, Tennessee have been protesting the formation of a Gay-Straight Alliance club at Macon County High School — but it seems their real problem is that the school’s Christian clubs aren’t receiving the priority treatment they want.

According to the Macon County Times, students at the school have expressed interest in forming a GSA, but aren’t having luck in finding a faculty sponsor. The school’s Principal, Stephanie Meador, told the county’s Board of Education last week that there is no “special treatment” at play for the club whatsoever. In fact, it remains to be seen whether the club will actually get off the ground at all without an advisor.

“As of right now, that group does not have a faculty sponsor… I don’t know the total number of students [involved]; I was only approached by one. I’m sure there were others involved who had been working with the student trying to find a sponsor.

“We just try to do the same thing for every club that wants to be formed; sometimes the kids find a sponsor and sometimes they don’t. And of course I never require anyone to sponsor anything. That’s a choice that they make.”

If the club’s status is still up in the air and no teacher will be forced to sponsor it, why are parents so upset? It might be because new school-wide laws restrict meeting times for all clubs, including the school’s Fellowship of Christian Athletes. Clearly, it doesn’t sit well with some parents that students might spend less time in FCA meetings when there’s also an LGBT-focused group in the works. Seriously.

[Parents] complained that the FCA was experiencing restrictions, while a group like GSA was being allowed to organize with no questions asked.

School Principal Stephanie Meador said that this year, all school clubs have been prohibited from meeting during the school day, for scheduling reasons. “This year we’re not letting any school clubs have meetings during the day,” said Meador. “They have to meet before or after school.” She says that FCA was not singled out for this policy.

One volunteer for the school’s FCA, Gene Carman III, is a surprising voice of reason through all this, saying the school’s FCA hasn’t actually faced any unfair treatment. He says:

“If anything, our school system is super, super supportive of FCA. I am very thankful for the opportunity that we have. The FCA is a very neat opportunity that the Lord’s given us.

“I had somebody call me last night because they heard about the whole new club that’s starting. And the thing is, if they’re going to allow FCA, they have to allow other things as well.”

Brilliant! It’s almost like we should be providing our children with equal access to the clubs that matter to them! Someone should create a law about that… Ah, but wait: Carman’s not such a superhero after all. He says that Christian clubs elsewhere are going through dark times as public schools start to place restrictions on open prayer.

“Like in Westmoreland, they can no longer pray before their football games,” said Carman. “They do a moment of silence instead of praying. And that was just as of the year before last. And it was a big stink over there. Coaches cannot pray with their teams anymore. The students can pray, but coaches cannot even stand in the prayer group.”

Finally, the icing on the cake: Carman offers up the ole’ love-the-sinner-hate-the-sin method of dealing with those pesky gay kids at school, confirming everyone’s suspicions that the angry parents in question are no more than a bunch of Christians seeking another outlet for their homophobia.

“We are very very very blessed here, that we can still pray before the games. And students were asking me about the Gay Straight Alliance group, and they were upset about it. I’m like, ‘we have to love these people, you know. I think it’s wrong, but we’ve got to love them and pray for them, and ask the lord to save them.’ So we had a good discussion about it with people in my youth group last night.”

“I think it’s wrong, but we’ve got to ask the lord to save them.” And parents wonder why LGBT students need something like a GSA?

This entire thing reads like a classic case of blaming the gays for a minor inconvenience — and that’s even before the blatant homophobia kicks in. Until some of these parents can step up and stop projecting their intolerance onto the school’s club policy, we’re never going to bridge these gaps. Be decent role models for your athletic Christian children and grow up.

About Camille Beredjick

Camille is a twentysomething working in the LGBT nonprofit industry. She runs an LGBT news blog at gaywrites.org.