Viewpoint: High school clubs provide inclusion, community

On Wednesday night, members of the Box Elder School District’s board met and voted on a new policy that will continue to allow extracurricular clubs at the high schools. Members voted 5-1 on the policy, but this isn’t the hook.

Box Elder High School student Gloria Hammond turned in a formal application to start a Gay-Straight Alliance in October. The very next day, the district was scheduled to vote on a new policy to ban clubs not related directly to the curriculum.

The district argued that cutting the extracurricular clubs, like the rodeo club at Bear River High School, would slash district liability for students who might be injured during club activities. But some members of the LGBT community suspected the district had ulterior motives, trying to prevent the club from even reaching the approval process. The district denies this.

The new policy will possibly approve the controversial Gay-Straight Alliance at Box Elder High School, although the club may have to change its name, because names that promote sexuality will not be allowed.

Weber State University’s own GSA serves as a refuge for LGBT college students and even community members who want to get involved. Without clubs like GSA pushing for students’ rights on our own campus, we wouldn’t have an LGBT lounge or certain speakers.

Clubs not directly related to curriculum, such as improv and drama clubs, honor societies, film clubs and even rodeo clubs enhance students’ interests and skills, and provide friendships and gateways to community networks. The cons of taking these away greatly outweigh the supposed gains.

As for Box Elder High School, the proposed GSA would serve as a safe haven for students who would normally not have a place to go. It’s no secret that gay teens are targets of bullies in school, and Box Elder County has the state’s highest suicide rate. Students who are bullied for any reason have a lower attendance rate and grades.

We think that all clubs in high school, from anime to service clubs, should be not only allowed, but encouraged. Clubs that meet the state requirements by completing service projects and having a teacher or faculty member sponsor are what make the high school experience.

Leadership opportunities, scholarships and resume material are advantages for students who get involved with clubs. But more important are the friendships and companionships forged.

If clubs give high school students a reason to come to school, then by all means students should be allowed to form and join clubs pertaining to their interests.