Students have legal rights in schools. You have the right to be protected from harassment and discrimination. And although Missouri has yet to pass legislation on the statewide level that is supportive of LGBTQ youth and allies, you have the right to form a Gay-Straight Alliance (GSA) club through a federal law. Knowing and understanding your legal rights will help you create a safer environment in your school through your GSA. Use these resources to know your rights and stand up for your rights in your school.
Federal Equal Access Act
Under the Federal Equal Access Act, any school that receives government funding and has at least one other non-curricular club must also allow a GSA. As the law states, “It shall be unlawful for any public secondary school which receives Federal financial assistance…to deny equal access or a fair opportunity to, or discriminate against, any students who wish to conduct a meeting …on the basis of the religious, political, philosophical, or other content of the speech at such meetings.”
Missouri School Law
Currently the Safe School Act passed into law in our state is vague when it come to how teachers and schools should create safer school policies to protect students and fails to include a list of those most effected by the issue.
Missouri GSA Network believes that any safer schools legislation should provide protection from discrimination for Missouri students based on actual or perceived characteristics, such as race, color, religion, ancestry, national origin, personal appearance, gender, gender identity or expression, sexual orientation, or a mental, physical or sensory disability, or on the basis of association with others identified by these categories and it is important to enumerate these classification in the law to fully make change in our school here in Missouri.
The Supreme Court in Romer v. Evans stated, “[e]numeration is the essential device used to make the duty not to discriminate concrete and to provide guidance for those who must comply.” [Romer v. Evans, 517 U.S. 620, 629 (1996)].