Lake Lure Classical Academy parents speak out over club suspension

Published 10:23 pm Thursday, November 26, 2015


By Leah Justice

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Some Lake Lure Classical Academy (LLCA) parents say media outlets following the school board’s decision to temporarily suspend all extra-curricular clubs in the wake of a Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender (LGBT) club being formed has shed a bad light on the school.

The LLCA school board voted 5-3 on Nov. 12 to temporarily suspend extra-curricular clubs until a policy committee can obtain legal guidance and bring a plan back to the board.

The LLCA school board has called a special meeting on Monday, Nov. 30 at 5:30 p.m. at the Lake Lure Town Hall with the agenda stating “consideration of a policy on school clubs.”

The LGBT club, or GSA (Gay Straight Alliance) club, brought parents and teachers to the Nov. 12 meeting, most expressing support of the school and all clubs as well as community members, including from Lake Lure churches against the club. One grandmother of LLCA students stated her opposition to the club but all other parents and teachers spoke of their support of the club.

Some local parents called a meeting last week in Tryon to discuss the issue.

Frances Brown said until comments began circulating on social media outlets, all students were friends.

“They didn’t care what church you went to, if you had two moms or two dads,” said Brown. “All these families have been a part of this school and all of a sudden this happens.”

Brown said she sees a lot of LLCA parents who are having the same great experience at the school she is having. She said many families are represented at the K-12 school, including white, black, Asian, Muslim, Christian, Buddhist, Jewish, Catholic, Pagan and secular families.

“The school itself is amazing and that community has been supportive and is very diverse and represents all those segments,” Brown said. “It’s a public school.”

LLCA parent Tracy Gallagher said LLCA does not mean Lake Lure Christian Academy.

“We are pro everybody,” Gallagher said. “We don’t want people to think that we are an anti-LGBT school, but also don’t want anyone to think we are anti-Christian either. We are also pro Raptors for Christ, There’s never been any issues with this group.”

The Nov. 12 meeting brought some community members who strongly urged the school board to stop the club.

John Crenshaw said a man placing his body into the cavity of another man is morally and spiritually wrong. He said he has no issue with gay and lesbian people and hating and bullying are wrong, but discussions about the club are not talking about bullying.

“It is not good, it is not normal, it’s not healthy and there’s no place for it here,” Crenshaw said. “If you endorse this you must also know that at some point in time someone will have the curiosity about beastiality and want to start a beastiality club. They’re going to want a pedophilia club.”

Lake Lure resident Dan Breneman, who said he is a retired Division One basketball official and a member of Lake Lure Baptist Church, said he sees athletes every day who are really hurting because of the lack of biblical foundations in their homes. He said he was there to oppose the decision the school is making to allow this club to come into the school.

“I raised three boys and I’m a father that did not depend on a school to teach their children right from wrong,” said Breneman. “I taught them biblical sound principles, I taught them about sex at home. I did not expect the school to teach them about sex. If my kids were at this school I would take them out immediately.”

Breneman told the school board he has done his homework and spoken to many administrators in public schools and the LLCA school board has the ability to rescind the club and “send it packing.” He said to the people talking about diversity, “the diversity you want to teach your children is the Bible.”

LLCA is a charter school, funded by taxpayer money with its own school board.

Lake Lure Baptist Church Pastor Anton Roos said a club discussing sex should have parental consent first. Roos said by not having parental consent the school is putting itself in a legal position. Roos said the LGBT club was put together by a teacher who purchased the poster. Roos asked the school board what disciplinary action has been taken against the teacher.

Roos said LLCA is not a high school but a K-12 school and he has a child in elementary, a child in middle and a child in high school there.

“I’m now having to explain to my fourth grader what does it mean to be transgender,” said Roos, “what does it mean to be lesbian.”

Roos suggested if the club has to exist, that it be limited to high school students, that it take place outside school hours and that it have to have parental consent. He said he loves the kids and even the people who have sent him emails saying he is a hater.

“I want you to know that I love your children enough to stand up for your children,” said Roos.

He also told the school board his youngest brother is a homosexual.

The Bulletin left a message for Roos at the church but Roos did not return the message for further comment as of press time.

Brown told the school board she couldn’t be prouder to be a raptor (LLCA’s mascot) and to see the school embrace diversity. She said her brother was terrified to come out and she is grateful a club exists at the school for students to be more open to be themselves and who they are.

“The group exists to make them feel like they are not alone,” said Brown. “By doing this you are showing your LLCA community that you value all of your students.”

Amanda Elliott said she is in support of every club at the school and Denise Garnett said she is in support of the LGBT club as it’s the only safe place they have.

Betty Flynn said she has three grandchildren who attend LLCA and she had no idea there were children who were being bullied or felt unsafe until she saw posts on Facebook.

Flynn said she volunteers at the school, is a Sunday School teacher and a Christian and is opposed to the LGBT club saying she now has to tell her first, third and fifth grade grandchildren what that is all about.

A representative from the Tryon Congregational Church, Amy Smith, said her church is in support of LGBT kids.

She said she wanted the LGBT kids to know that not all churches read the Bible in a fundamentalist literal way. She also said her church supports and accepts LGBT people as children of Christ and these children should have a safe place to meet.

The Bulletin contacted Chris Baund, LLCA School Board chair who did not comment but directed the paper to statements made on the school’s website.

“The LLCA Board of Directors would like to extend sincere appreciation for all of the support we have received during the past few days,” stated the school. “The parent & community support are what make LLCA a strong and successful school.
“The Policy Committee met this afternoon (posted on Nov. 18) and brought to the table all the tools it needs to navigate the school through the current situation, including guidance from multiple attorneys. Each member of the committee is dedicated to bringing a timely, well-informed, equitable solution to the board before the next board meeting, which will be held December 10th at 5:30 p.m. (special meeting has now been called for Nov. 30). It is our goal that club activities will be reinstated, clear guidelines and policies written, and a path defined for the creation and operation of existing and future clubs/groups.  We encourage all parents and community members to continue to stand in support of our school and the Policy Committee as they complete the task assigned.”

Teacher Layne Long, who agreed to sponsor the student who asked to form the club, told the school board the whole purpose of the club was to make students feel safe.

She clarified that she had gotten a brochure that said the school is a safe place and gave it to the guidance counselor. Then a student came to her saying she was interested in starting a club and Long said she told the student she already has a poster and offered it to the student. She told the student the club could meet in her room. Long said she did not go to students asking them if they wanted to start a club.

She said the club meets once a week after school for grades 8-12.

Long also said the club has nothing to do with religion and is a human rights club.

“Ladies and gentlemen this club has nothing to do with religion,” Long said. “This is not a religious club, this is a human rights club. This is a bunch of kids who want to quietly have a safe place to sit and discuss their feelings.”

Long said she grew up in a Christian home and was brought up to understand that God is love and learned that Jesus Christ was a loving man who wanted to help people.

“Regardless of religious views, which are really irrelevant at this point, our school is a public school,” said Long. “It is perfectly legal for any club to form, unless it is a club which wants to preach hate or violence. I am extremely proud of the students and how they have articulately and thoughtfully expressed their views.”

She mentioned that suicide rates are high in teens who are dealing with issues related to their sexuality and gender.

“Obviously if there was no need for the club to exist at LLCA it would not exist,” Long said.



























Chris Braund: school’s website at bottom there are at bottom.


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.