SUMMERVILLE -- The Gay Straight Alliance will continue as a student club at both Summerville and Fort Dorchester high schools after two school board actions to limit non- academic clubs failed to garner enough support Monday.

Dorchester District 2 board member Charles Stoudenmire brought the issues on whether non-academic clubs should be allowed in the district's high schools, and whether schools can limit certain student forums, to the board's agenda, said school board Chairwoman Frances Townsend. The discussion was prompted by concerns about clubs called the Gay Straight Alliance at two district high schools, she said.

Billy Thompson, a sophomore at Summerville High School and founder of the school's Gay Straight Alliance, said the group is important for gay students. They need "a place to be accepted and with allies," he said.

The issue came to the board when some students complained about the group, which has 28 members, Thompson said. Gay Straight Alliance members had put up a poster and produced a commercial on the school's TV station.

"We were promoting our club the same way any other club does," he said.

Both of the board's motions failed, with only Stoudenmire and Barbara Crosby voting in favor changing the policies for clubs. And neither one of them said their motions or votes were specifically connected to the Gay Straight Alliance.

"Clubs should have a curricular orientation," Stoudenmire said, "They are not about pursuing personal identity."

Townsend, who did not support the motions, said, "I see huge benefits in non-academic clubs." And, she added, limiting clubs that are not academic in nature would eliminate half the clubs in district high schools.

Thompson was pleased with the board's decision. But his mother, Jackie Thompson, said she thinks the issue got out of hand and shouldn't have reached the point it did.