Two teens from Kathleen High School in Lakeland, Florida have been prevented since last year from forming a Gay-Straight Alliance (GSA) club.

Rory Teal and Brenna Pelland, both 17, have been working to establish the club since November, 2012.

“The bullying has been really tough at our school, and having this club would give kids a safe place to be themselves and it would put a stop to a lot of the bullying,” Pelland said. “We just want our school to be a place where kids are respected for who they are, and a GSA can help make that happen.”

“We're really disappointed that the school hasn't given us an answer yet, and with the end of the year coming up, we didn't want to have to wait until next year to have the club meet to start trying to make KHS safer,” Rory said.

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Florida on Thursday sent a demand letter on behalf of the teens to Dr. John A. Stewart, the superintendent of the Polk County School Board, calling on the district to allow them to establish a GSA at Kathleen High School.

In its letter, ACLU lawyers stated that the school's delay and non-response “amounts to a de facto denial.”

“Both the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution and federal statutory laws require that school officials treat GSAs the same as any other noncurricular clubs at the school. As explained by the United States Department of Education, the Equal Access Act … guarantees students the right to form and participate in school clubs, with wide latitude given to the proposed content of their discussions. Where schools have refused to allow GSAs to form or have otherwise denied these groups equal treatment, federal courts in Florida and across the country have repeatedly held them to be in violation of the law,” the letter reads in part.

Administrators told the students that the delay in receiving a response was due to a long list of club applicants that had been filed. An ACLU public records request found that in the previous 10 months the number of applications filed was two.