Bozeman High School

Students stand outside Bozeman High School in this Chronicle file photo.

In the wake of controversy over a club for Christian athletes at Bozeman High School, the School Board is considering a new policy on student clubs.

The proposed policy would create two categories of student clubs — those that are and aren’t directly tied to school curriculum.

Some 37 clubs — like the French Club, Coding Club, Student Council and Science Olympiad Club — would be defined as “curricular student clubs” because they directly tie in with classes and education at Bozeman High.

Curricular clubs would be allowed to use school facilities, the school’s name and logo, and raise and deposit their funds with the school district. The clubs’ names would be listed in the student handbook and their advisers would be eligible to be paid a school district stipend.

Another 31 clubs would be considered “non-curricular student groups.” These would be student-led clubs that could meet on school grounds, but wouldn’t be tied in with the school curriculum or considered school-sponsored. Advisers wouldn’t be eligible for school stipends.

The list of 31 clubs considered non-curricular includes the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, as well as the cancer-support Aspen Roots, Backcountry Club, Climate Crisis Club, Human Rights Club, gender equity Project X2+, Ski Club and Sexuality and Gender Alliance.

The proposed policy states that school district employees can attend religious meetings of clubs but can not participate.

Superintendent Bob Connors proposed the new policy with assistance of the Montana School Boards Association attorney and Bozeman’s top school leaders.

It was on the agenda for discussion at Monday night’s School Board meeting but will be considered at a later date.

Connors said Tuesday that the discussion was delayed because the policy needs to be vetted with the two middle schools, which also have clubs, and with high school staff, to make sure the clubs are listed in the appropriate categories.

In November, four Bozeman High girls complained to the school board that it had taken school administrators seven months to act on their complaint about the Fellowship of Christian Athletes.

The girls argued that the national FCA’s statement of faith and pledge of sexual purity — required of adult leaders, though not of student members — depict homosexuality as a sin and so the club discriminates against gay and lesbian students.

FCA student members later responded that they don’t discriminate and that they welcome all students. They said that their own First Amendment rights were being violated. They refused to drop their affiliation with the national FCA.

Acting on the advice of the Montana School Boards Association attorney, Bozeman school officials said the high school FCA chapter could continue to hold meetings at the high school and post flyers at school, but it would be considered an unofficial school club rather than official school club. Posters would carry a yellow school sticker instead of a green one, denoting school sanction, and they could no longer announce meetings over the school intercom.

In December a national religious freedom group threatened to sue the school district over religious discrimination.

Bozeman High School clubs proposed as “curricular” are: Academic Olympics, Aerie yearbook, Art Club, Astronomy Club, Book Club, Coding Club, Color Guard, DECA marketing club, Engineering Club, Family Career and Community Leaders, Fashion Club, French Club, German Club, Guitar Building Club, Hawk Tawk newspaper, Hawks Theatre Club, HOSA: Future Health Professionals, Jewelry Guild, Literature Club Model United Nations, National Honor Society, Native Awareness Club, Photo Club, Robotics Club, Science Olympiad Club, Scribblings, Sign Language Club, Skills USA, Solar Schools, Spanish Club, Spanish Honor Society, Stock Market Club, Student Council, Swing Dance Club, Woodworkers Club, World Quest and Youth Legislature.

Non-curricular clubs would be: Aspen Roots, Common Ground, Craft Club, Environmental Awareness Cub, Fellowship of Christian Athletes, Human Rights Club, International Club, Key Club (Kiwanis), Leo Club, Mental Health Alliance, Military Kids Club, Outdoor Leadership, Partners Club, Peer Mediation, Peer Tutors, Project X2+, Prom Committee, Rotary-Interact Club, Sexuality and Gender Alliance, Ski Club, Soup Club, Speak Out/Leadership, Standup Comedy Club, Sticker Club, Turning Point USA, Uno Club, World Issues Club and Young America’s Foundation.

Gail Schontzler can be reached at gails@dailychronicle.com or 582-2633.

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