Oh, no, no, no -- we only meant sort of Equal Access
Speaking in opposition to the news that another court has mandated a Southern school open its doors to a Gay-Straight Alliance, Martin Cothran of the Family Foundation of Kentucky tells Agape Press:
"The Equal Access law was originally designed to provide fuller access to religious groups and Bible study groups in public schools," ..."And unfortunately the intent has sort of been turned against the language of the bill. And so now we have a lot of gay rights groups asking for that same privilege, and according to the letter of that law, that's a difficult thing for a school to argue against."
Except the primary "language of the bill" actually reads:
(a) Restriction of limited open forum on basis of religious, political, philosophical, or other speech content prohibited
It shall be unlawful for any public secondary school which receives Federal financial assistance and which has a limited open forum to deny equal access or a fair opportunity to, or discriminate against, any students who wish to conduct a meeting within that limited open forum on the basis of the religious, political, philosophical, or other content of the speech at such meetings.
So even though it's true that religious groups were the early champions of the legislation, it wasn't designed for them. And the intent has in NO WAY been "turned against the language of the bill" by Gay-Straight Alliances. In fact, turning the G-SAs away would run in direct opposition to the act's language.
Now, those opposed to the G-SAs would likely cite a later stipulation that says "Nothing in this subchapter shall be construed to limit the authority of the school...to protect the well-being of students and faculty" as reason to bar the clubs, because in their eyes, we gays are predatory corrupters out to ruin America's youth. But that is, of course, a load of hogwash, as these clubs actually protect the well-being of students who might have no other place to turn for support.
So in summary, Mr. Cothran: You guys do not own "Equal Access" simply because it was for your own purposes that you originally wanted this equality. Say you simply don't want these clubs in your schools because you don't care for gay rights, if you wish. But "Oh no, we didn't mean THAT KIND of equality" is not a stipulation one can later add to an impartiality-encouraging piece of legislation simply because the group now benefitting from it is on the opposite end of their societal ideal.
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