The Lubbock Independent School District is using two main arguments to defend itself against a lawsuit filed by a gay student organization. One, the district's long-standing abstinence policy. And two, the crime of child sex.
The LISD filed a response to the lawsuit in federal court. The gay student organization says it's fighting for equal rights.
This all dates back to last fall when the organization asked Lubbock High if it could post flyers and make announcements over the PA about its meetings. Their request was denied by the principal, then the assistant superintendent and finally the school board.
Then, earlier this month, a New York based law firm representing the gay student group took the issue to federal court.
The lawsuit claims the LISD violated the Equal Rights Act, which bars discrimination against any group based on their viewpoints. This week, the LISD responded by stating, '...LISD has adopted a longstanding abstinence policy applying to all matters concerning sexual activity. ...Furthermore, of extreme significance, it is a criminal offense (Texas Penal Code 21.11) for children of the same sex under the age of 17 to have sexual contact, no matter the age difference.'
But the law firm that filed the suit says the fact that the LISD characterizes this as a sex issue, just demonstrates why the political and cultural club is necessary. "The fact is, one of the named plaintiffs in this is a heterosexual girl who wants to discuss these important issues with her gay and lesbian friends. Clearly, she's not in this to make it a sex club. It's just like other clubs on campus that discuss political issues," says Brian Chase with Lambda Legal.
Ricky Waite was a senior at Lubbock High last year. He'll be a key witness if the case goes all the way to trial.
This lawsuit boarders on groundbreaking territory. It's the first of its kind in Texas. Similar suits were filed in California and Utah. In both of those cases, the gay organizations won.