- Associated Press - Tuesday, December 1, 2015

LAKE LURE, N.C. (AP) - The board of directors of a Rutherford County public charter school has reversed its ban on student-led clubs, two weeks after complaints about a newly formed Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender group.

The board of Lake Lure Classical Academy voted Monday to establish a new policy requiring K-8 students, but not high school students, to get parental consent to join clubs, according to a news release from the American Civil Liberties Union.

“Federal law requires all students clubs - whether it’s a chess club, Bible study group, or Gay-Straight Alliance - to be treated equally,” Chris Brook, legal director of the ACLU of North Carolina Legal Foundation, said in the statement. “It’s also important that the new policy allows high school students to exercise their First Amendment right to decide what clubs to join.”

Chris Braund, chairman of the school’s board, said board members got a lot of advice from several areas, adding that they also received materials that helped them craft a policy statement.

“They were deliberative, they were not rash and at all times acted in the best interest of the school as a whole,” Braund said. “Sometimes, that required taking a pause and taking the time to get it right.”

Braund said it was also clear there was much more support for a policy of inclusion inside and outside the school than from the community and parents who initially expressed concern.

“The board was heartened by the level of outpouring and support for an inclusive environment,” he said.

The Daily Courier of Forest City reported at the time that parents, teachers, pastors and concerned citizens voiced a mix of opinions about the club during the school’s regular board meeting on Nov. 12. The board voted 5-3 to suspend all club activity until it could seek legal counsel.

A teacher at the school allowed the club to hold meetings in her classroom and gave members a poster from the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network to display. The board also addressed the poster, setting a policy that requires all club posters to have a stamp of approval from the school director and restricting them to designated club bulletin boards in the middle- and high-school halls.

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