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Lake Lure charter school suspends school clubs following uproar over LGBT group

A Lake Lure charter school suspended all of its extra-curricular clubs last week after controversy erupted over a new club that supports lesbian, gay and transgender students.

The board of directors for Lake Lure Classical Academy, which serves students from kindergarten through high school in Rutherford County community, voted for the temporary suspension of extra-curricular activities Thursday.

Community members and parents spoke out at a school board meeting in support and against the newly-formed Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Club, according to the Daily Courier, a newspaper based in nearby Forest City.

From the Daily Courier’s article:

“I support the students who created the LGBT Club. I couldn’t be prouder to be a Raptor now,” parent Frances Brown said to the board. “My brother was bullied all through high school and I’m so grateful a club like this exits. This is about students feeling less alone and safe to be who they are. Thank you for embracing the difference in students.”

However, other parents expressed their concerns on the nature of the club since LLCA is a K-12 school. One grandmother said she had to explain the meaning of “gay” and “lesbian” to her elementary school student because the club put up a poster.

Another citizen told the board since it is a public school it has the ability to do away with the club. He said he did not have a child at Lake Lure, but if he did he would take them out immediately. He said the only diversity the school needs is the Bible.

Layne Long, a teacher who sponsored the club, said a student approached her about forming the club and was more than happy to have her classroom serve as a meeting place, according to the Daily Courier.

“This is not a religious club, this is a human rights club,” Long said.

Among the extracurricular groups also affected by the suspension is “Raptors for Christ,” a faith-based club named for the school’s mascot. Other clubs on the temporary suspension list include Lego robotics groups, drama and chess clubs.

The charter school, which is a public school funded with public dollars but run by a private board of directors, is the only public school in Lake Lure, a tourist community where the 1980s mega-hit movie “Dirty Dancing” was filmed.

It is one of several charter schools in North Carolina that are part of the Challenge Foundation, a network of charter schools financed by libertarian Oregon billionaire John Bryan.

N.C. Policy Watch wrote about another Challenge Foundation school, the Thomas Jefferson Classical Academy, in 2011. The school, at the time, hosted a diaper drive for a pro-life Christian ministry.

Lake Lure Classical Academy board chair Chris Braund, who is also Lake Lure’s town manager, said the suspension of all school clubs came in order to let the board look at their legal obligations under state and federal rules before finalizing a policy on clubs at their December board meeting.

Braund did say he was disappointed that students who may identify as LGBT had to listen to adults speaking out at the school board meeting against those who are gay.

“It’s not coming from within the [school] community, but it’s coming from the adult community around them,” he said.

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