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Academy School District 20 tightens criteria for student clubs to gather

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (KRDO) -- This year, Academy School District 20 is tightening the criteria for student clubs to meet.

In past years, individual schools decided whether clubs were school-sponsored, meaning they were directly related to curriculum and therefore could meet during the school day.

Now, clubs in the district are all required to directly relate to curriculum in order to meet during school hours, promote their activities over the intercom, and hang up flyers for meetings and events.

This isn't a change in district policy, as much as it's a change in the way the policy is implemented, because the district has laid out the requirements for schools district-wide.

KRDO learned about the change after a D20 student in a school Gay Straight Trans Alliance (GTSA) reached out to voice concerns over the switch.

The GTSA is just one group affected, in addition to district chess clubs, Rubik's Cube Clubs, Turning Point USA, and more.

The district said before this year, schools made club decisions inconsistently, which led to frustration among some students and parents, but they said this is their way of making it fair.

However, with this change, clubs that do not directly relate to course curriculum cannot advertise their club and they have to meet before or after the school day starts.

The student who contacted us with concerns said this takes away a safe space for LGBTQ+ students.

Inside Out Youth Services, an advocacy group in Colorado Springs spoke on how valuable those safe spaces are.

"Having an LGBTQ-affirming space means everything to some of these youth and having one in the place where they spend a third of their lives in their own school, with their own peers, led by their own peers," said Liss Smith. "That really helps their sense of leadership and accountability and also make sure there's access to these resources for them."

These groups can still meet in school spaces but not during instructional time.

The district acknowledged this is a tough situation for many students, but they said they needed to act as a united front in the way they carried out policy.

You can read more on the policy here.

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Annabelle Childers

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