The East Pennsboro Area School Board voted 4-4 Tuesday night to reject the application for a GSA at East Pennsboro Area High School in Enola, just west of Harrisburg across the Susquehanna River. A majority of board members must approve a motion for it to pass.
About 800 students attend the school.
One of the board members cited budgetary concerns as the reason for his “no” vote, although the club is expected to cost the district less than $300.
Jason Landau Goodman, University of Pennsylvania student and executive director of Pennsylvania Student Equality Coalition, said the board’s vote sent “a devastating message: LGBT students are not welcome here.”
“East Pennsboro Area School District has a wealth of wonderful educators and administrators who want success for all their students, and allowing the formation of a GSA is critical to that mission,” he added.
PSEC co-founder Jason Fluke, a graduate of the high school, said he wasn’t surprised by the board’s decision.
“It is a shame because this shows the rest of the nation that even in 2012, people in Central Pennsylvania need to be educated on diversity issues,” he said. “I find it intriguing that the school board, those who are entrusted to have the best interests of the students in mind, voted against the GSA to spite some of their most vulnerable youth.”
The district’s superintendent backs the formation of the GSA and said he will request that the board reconsider its decision at a meeting next month.
The school currently has more than two-dozen student organizations, focusing on chess, computers, skiing and art, as well as those devoted to French, German, Italian, Latin and Spanish languages.
Jen Colletta can be reached at email@example.com.