HB 329 would require school boards to approve or reject the existence of any student group or organization within its district. Similar rules in other states have been used to ban groups that facilitate conversations about issues like LGBTQ+ rights, systemic racism, and intersectionality. Students in public schools have the First Amendment right to create student groups and organizations because of the principle of freedom of association. Rejecting a student's application to form a student group or organization would violate that fundamental First Amendment principle.
HB 329 would also compel school districts to create policies requiring parents to “opt-in” to allow their children to join or participate in any student club or organization. This “opt-in” policy creates a barrier to students participating in extracurricular activities such as speech and debate, professional clubs, hobby clubs, language clubs, cultural diversity clubs, Gay-Straight Alliances, and a whole lot more. Parents facing language barriers, demanding schedules, who are incarcerated, or for any number of reasons might be unavailable to affirmatively opt-in their children to participate in school clubs and organizations are all reasons why students might be unable to participate in student clubs or organizations as a result of this policy.
Student clubs and organizations are a crucial source of social interaction for students that foster friendships that can last a lifetime. Clubs and organizations provide students an important opportunity to explore hobbies, interests, career paths, viewpoints, and perspectives that they might have never discovered otherwise. Colleges also weigh a student’s participation in extracurricular activities heavily when considering admission or scholarships. Many clubs and organizations are oriented toward volunteering and community service, which makes them important for teaching students how to be responsible members of their community.