March 17, 2017
SANDPOINT, ID – A school administrator was caught colluding with community activists to recruit students of the Forrest M. Bird Charter School to join a Gay-Straight Alliance (GSA), while intentionally hiding this information from their parents. Principal Mary Jensen admitted the secrecy under which school staff and others had operated. Some of the same adults had even facilitated kids meeting off-campus at a local library under the supervision of “supportive” third parties. Jensen stated that they wanted to be “a progressive school on that sort of thing, but we did not want to be ‘in-your-face’,” so parents could not prevent their children from attending. She states “we’re keeping it kind of on the down low,” because “this is North Idaho,” and “kids who wanted to participate in the club did not necessarily want their parents to know.”
Principal Jensen also stated that starting this club was one of her goals, saying, “The adults…we spent months trying to do this thing.” Incredibly, Ms. Jensen also claims that “we don’t want the kids to be ‘excluded’ from “developing the [club’s] mission statement, because it’s their club.” She also states “One of the members of the adult crew wanted us to be the activists, doing the parades, you know, be in-their-face kind of stuff.” “We decided not to do activism at first, because that’s a big step.” She stated, “I didn’t want to do that…because this is North Idaho.”
Liberty Counsel originally contacted the school asking for assurances that it would respect parental rights. The school falsely claimed no violations had taken place and its legal counsel replied, “[M]y clients deny that they have ever violated any parental right to control their minor children…” The school also refused to require parental permission slips for clubs, despite parent permission being required for almost anything else, including field trips, medicine, and even dress code expectations.
“It is outrageous that this school would intentionally undermine parental rights in this manner. Parents have the fundamental right to know about and direct the activities and associations of their minor children,” said Mat Staver, Founder and Chairman of Liberty Counsel. “It is simply not credible that this GSA is a ‘student-led club.’ Parents must stand up for their rights and expose activities like this to public scrutiny, as our clients have done here,” Staver concluded.
Idaho law allows for recordings with authorization from one party.
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