In 2005, a group of students who were victims or friends of victims of anti-gay harassment in White County attempted to form a student support group named Peers Rising in Diverse Education (“PRIDE”). White County schools refused to allow the group to form. Subsequently, the ACLU of Georgia threatened the school with a lawsuit, as once the school opens the door to any one extra-curricular club, the Equal Access Act requires recognition of all extra-curricular clubs. In response, the school system claimed it eliminated all extra-curricular student groups. Some favored groups, however, were allowed to continue to utilize school facilities.

The ACLU of Georgia filed a lawsuit on behalf of PRIDE and White County students and parents. The lawsuit claimed that White County was violating the Equal Access Act (which requires that all student clubs be treated equally), Title IX (an act that prevents harassment in schools), and other free speech laws.

In June of 2006, the ACLU of Georgia filed a Preliminary Injunction Motion which asked the Court to prevent White County from continuing their new policy until the trial occurred.

In July of 2006, the judge found that the school did in fact, violate the Equal Access Act. To avoid a costly appeal, the ACLU of Georgia and White County then entered into settlement negotiations and the matter has been favorably resolved.

The settlement agreement includes the following: (1) White County agreed to revise their policies to protect gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender (“GLBT”) students from harassment; (2) White County agreed to make the dress code less arbitrary; (3) White County would no longer require PRIDE students to get parental permission to be a part of the club; (4) the school would receive three years of teacher training to make schools safe for GLBT students; and (5) White County would pay $10,000 in damages and $168,000 in attorneys fees.

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