HB 1308, a bill intended to target Gay/Straight Alliances by misleading legislators about their purpose and activities, is being patroned by Delegate Matt Lohr. In case there was any doubt about his intention, we provide the following:
“I personally am against any sanctioned school club being formed on the basis of one’s sexual orientation. I understand the current law regarding the Equal Access Amendment and realize that school boards are currently limited in how they can deal with these clubs. I favor trying to change the law that so that local school boards have the power to refuse to sanction organizations based on one’s sexual preference and orientation.”
– Delegate Matt Lohr (R-Harrisonburg) on the subject of Gay/Straight Alliances in Virginia’s Public High Schools. (The Conservative Voice)
The bill was approved Wednesday in the House Committee on Education, and will go to the full House probably on Monday, January 30.
Send an email to your Delegate opposing this misguided and cruel bill at Equality Virginia’s action center.
PRESS RELEASE – Coalition formed to defeat anti-gay bill
Contact: Tully Satre
Project: Commonwealth Education Equality (CEE)
“House Bill 1308 counts on a deliberate misrepresentation of the nature and purpose of Gay-Straight Alliances,” says John Leppo, Chapter Co-Chair, Richmond chapter of GLSEN (Gay, Lesbian, Straight Education Network), “GSA clubs are not about sexual activity – they are about promoting understanding and reducing harassment in schools.”
The second week of January, HB 1308 was filed by Delegate Matt Lohr (R-Harrisonburg.) The bill was assigned to the House Committee of Education and can be heard as soon as next week. In response to this bill, a coalition of Virginia GLBT leaders, and organizations (such as the ACLU) have formed “Project: Commonwealth Education Equality” This coalition is communicating between organizations and GSAs to defeat HB 1308.
“The bill’s language misleads local school boards into believing GSA clubs can be prohibited under the Federal Equal Access Act,” says Leppo, “in fact, [GSAs] cannot be prohibited when they are formed and operate according to established rules for clubs. Unfortunately, Virginia taxpayers will be footing the bill for litigation costs in losing court cases if this bill becomes law.”
“Virginia’s gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender youth need to be equally protected in our school systems,” says Tully Satre, director of Project: Commonwealth Education Equality (CEE), “Gay/Straight Alliances provide support, and education to the group itself and its school community. These clubs are a voice for a minority in our schools.”
“It’s critical that our elected officials understand the intent of this bill; the Coalition coming together to fight this measure is working to organize GSAs across the state, educate our elected officials on the purpose of the organizations, and encourage fair-minded supporters to speak out,” said Dyana Mason, Equality Virginia Executive Director. The coalition currently includes Virginia Out, ACLU of Virginia, Equality Virginia, GLSEN Richmond and GLSEN Northern Virginia and numerous GSAs from around the state.