Gay high school club gains official status

Monday, March 2, 1998

DENVER (AP) — A settlement was reached Feb. 27 between the Cherry Creek School District and a high school gay-rights club that sued, demanding it be treated like any other club.

District officials agreed to treat the Homosexual-Heterosexual Alliance Reaching for Tolerance as an official club at Smoky Hill High School, “with all the rights and responsibilities of other student-initiated clubs,” the students’ attorneys said.

“This is a great bunch of kids and they should be very proud,” said attorney Dwight Pringle. “They got virtually everything they wanted.”

Pringle and Colorado Legal Initiatives Project, a gay legal defense fund based in Denver, represented the students.

The student group filed a civil-rights lawsuit in January alleging the district had censored its publicity, refused to recognize it as an official club and ordered a counselor to oversee its activities.

Pringle said that, following a court hearing before U.S. district court Judge Zita Weinshenk, the district agreed to enter a consent decree granting the student club all the relief it was seeking.

Under the agreement, the district also rescinded a directive that the student group be converted to a support group run by a counselor.

In addition, the district agreed not to censor the group’s materials, attorneys said.

The students’ lawsuit claimed school officials had censored words such as “homosexual,” “lesbian” and “gay” from the club’s posters.

The high school club’s 25 members, both gay and heterosexual, meet to discuss personal and social issues.