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Florence school board meeting turns heated over LGBTQ+ student group

Posted at 8:36 AM, Jun 09, 2021

FLORENCE — A Florence-Carlton school board meeting went from routine to controversial Tuesday night when more than 200 people tuned in to take part.

But ultimately, no final decisions were made.

School board members had planned to address the rules for school clubs after concerns were raised about an LGBTQ+ group.

The meeting, which was supposed to be held in person, was moved online when reports surfaced that protesters against the LGBTQ+ group would be bringing firearms to the meeting.

The root of the controversy lies in "formal" versus "informal "student clubs.

The policy in question doesn’t specifically mention LGBTQ+ groups, it became the topic of the evening as it’s currently considered an informal club.

The student-led group began at Florence Carlton School at the start of the school year.

In changing policy, the administration would be required to notify parents of all student clubs available and could see the policy changed to require permission slips for such informal groups.

In a heated virtual crowd, a mix of proponents and opponents made their voices heard.

“I do not agree whatsoever that this be done without any parental consent, why any of this is even being brought up about sexuality in any way to minors is beyond me,” said Kaedin Schweitzer.

“I just want to express my support today to the faculty and the students choosing to form a gay-straight alliance with faculty memberships,” countered Elizabeth Beil.

“It is developmentally appropriate for adolescents, even in middle school, to seek out other adults to safely speak with regarding their life choices and their health and for guidance," Beil continued.

The board had a lengthy agenda and ultimately tabled the policy changes.

CORRECTION: A previous version of this article referred to the group being a part of the nationwide Gay Straight Alliance. That information was incorrect.