ACLU demanding immediate approval of Gay-Straight Alliance

Liliana Castillo

The American Civil Liberties Union of New Mexico is demanding Clovis Municipal Schools immediately approve creation of a Gay-Straight Alliance club at Clovis High School before the school year ends.

In a letter dated Monday and sent to Superintendent Terry Myers, the ACLU said students have been waiting approximately two months for approval to begin meetings.

“Unreasonable delay in approving the GSA singles this organization out as receiving unequal treatment compared to other student organizations,” the letter stated.

The request to create a GSA at CHS was submitted to the high school principal in early March and reached the superintendent’s desk March 30. During an April 26 board of education meeting, the board chose a closed forum for the high school, meaning only clubs with a tie to a school curriculum can meet during the school day.

Non-curricular clubs can use the school’s facilities to meet before or after the school day.

The GSA is considered a non-curricular club.

Myers said he believed the students, board and ACLU were on the same page after that board meeting.

Myers said the district is also undergoing a review of its facilities use policy. He said when that policy is finished being reviewed, he will be able to move forward and approve club requests.

“Nothing has changed. I thought we had clearly stated as soon as we get our facility usage forms and get everything in order, we will consider requests,” he said.

Myers said it is possible that the GSA will be approved before May 24 — the last day of school — but he can’t guarantee it because of the policy review. Myers said a legal team is reviewing the policy and he “hopes it won’t be too much longer.”

“Until I get that, there is no way of being even-handed or even ensuring someone what I’m doing would be legally correct without that,” Myers said. “The key here is that nothing has changed. We will honor our commitment to all our students that we made at that board meeting.”

At the meeting, Myers said any group of CHS students who wish to meet to discuss students issues, will be given free access to the high school’s facilities to meet.

CHS senior Steven De Los Santos submitted the request to form the GSA in March. As a senior, he’s graduating May 21.

“I think he does need to get it done quickly,” De Los Santos said. “There’s not a lot of time for me to keep doing this. There are a couple of people to pass it (the club) on to but it would be nice to get the club already up and running this year, that way we don’t have to start from scratch last year.”

De Los Santos said he spoke with Myers the day after the board meeting and was told that the superintendent was deciding which student organizations are curricular and which are non-curricular. He said Myers said the process would take 10 days at the most and then he would call De Los Santos about the GSA.

“The superintendent didn’t see any reason why the club wouldn’t pass,” De Los Santos said. “It seems like he’s working on it.”

Micah McCoy with ACLU of New Mexico said the organizations concern lies in how long the request has been with CMS administrators.

McCoy said he didn’t see how the facilities use policy has any bearing on the creation of the club, noting that other non-curricular organizations including the junior class organization have been allowed to meet since the board meeting.

“The law states that if they allow one non-curricular club to meet,” McCoy said, “they have to let all non-curricular clubs to meet. It’s our concern that by delaying the approval of this club, the GSA, they are trying to side step this. We believe this club meets all the requirements and provides a valuable service for students and it should be approved immediately.”