As openly gay and lesbian students become a more regular presence in public high schools, students in many schools have started lesbian and gay student organizations. In response, some school districts and state legislatures have attempted to prevent the clubs from meeting, either through categorical bans on all extracurricular groups or through legislation specifically designed to prevent the gay clubs from meeting. This Comment examines the First Amendment issues raised by these efforts. It argues that the Supreme Court's current approach to student speech, which focuses on whether the speech is school sponsored and on the application of public forum doctrine, lacks an underlying rationale and leads to inconsistent outcomes. In its place, the author urges the Court to adopt a mission-based test that examines the relationship between the regulation on speech and the educational purpose underlying the activity. Because student clubs generally exist to promote self-exploration and foster the development of individual identity, this new test would extend First Amendment protection to gay and lesbian student groups.
86 Cal. L. Rev. 1131 (1998)