Ohio

Eye on Education

Celina High School Student Petitions for Gay-Straight Alliance UPDATED

Twenty Celina High School students were asked not to wear T-shirts like this one to school because administrators say they are disruptive. Now one of the students is working to form a Gay-Straight Alliance at his school.

Remember that group of students at Celina High School who were told by school administrators they could not wear their homemade pro-gay T-shirts to school because they are disruptive? Well one of them, 16-year-old Erick Warner, has created a petition on Change.org, hoping enough signatures will convince school officials to let him start a Gay-Straight Alliance.

In a press release put out by the Change.org folks, Warner had this to say:

“It would be really nice to attend an Ohio high school as accepting as the one we see on GLEE, but the reality is that Celina High School, like many small town schools, isn’t very accepting of lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans students,” said Warner, who launched the campaign on Change.org. “The students who were threatened with suspensions were treated unfairly — plain and simple — so I knew I needed to do something to make our school better.”

His petition gathered 166,996 signatures and will be delivered to school administrators.

The students initially wore their pro-gay T-shirts to support other friends, a pair of girls, who were asked to change when they wore tops to school for twins day that read “Lesbian 1″ and “Lesbian 2.”

The group of students say they were at first told they can’t wear politically motivated clothing to school, but administrators later said it’s because the T-shirts were found to be disruptive.

StateImpact Ohio has reached out to school administrators for comment on the petition, but our requests for comment haven’t been returned yet.

UPDATE 2:30 pm

Officials at Celina High School sent out a statement today to clarify that they are not opposed to the formation of a gay-straight alliance, but no student has begun the paperwork to get such a group started.

The statement reads:

“If any application were to be submitted by a student who wanted to start a gay-straight alliance, it would be processed the same way that we have processed all previous applications for student groups. If the student organization met the conditions required to be met by other student groups, their application would be approved.”

The press release also says the district has been mischaracterized as oppressive of the students.

“We care about our students and their rights, and the Celina City School District Board Policies, which are issued and available to all of our students, are evidence of that care and concern. The policies establish the procedures for students to follow to form alliances, clubs or student groups,” explained Jesse Steiner, superintendent for the Celina City School District.

Steiner goes on to say that the district did no pursue any disciplinary action for the students who initially wore pro-gay T-shirts to school.

A screenshot of the updated Change.org page to form a gay-straight alliance at Celina High School.

In fact, Erick Warner, the student who started the Change.org petition has removed his request from the website, and replaced it with an apology to school administrators.

“This whole petition was a misunderstanding,” Warner writes on the site. “I was misinformed by my peers and was led to believe things that weren’t true.”

He continues:

“I would also like to personally apologize to Phil Metz, Jason Luebke and Jessie Steiner for this misunderstanding. It got way out of my control. They are not bad people. In fact, they are very great people. They promote a positive envirnoment for learning and only took the actions necessary to protect our learning envirnoment. The administration at Celina High School is not bigotted [sic], they are good people with good intentions.

“I do not want to continue with anymore action after this. At all.”

The issue is resolved.

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