Scroll To Top
World

Utah lawmaker
announces new bill to prohibit GSAs

Utah lawmaker
announces new bill to prohibit GSAs

A bill sponsored by the ailing Utah senator Chris Buttars to ban gay-straight clubs in Utah public schools may be replaced by one sponsored by Rep. Aaron Tilton if health problems prevent Buttars from returning. Undisclosed health problems have limited Buttars's time in the legislature, said senate president John Valentine. No senators were stepping up to carry Buttars's Senate Bill 97, which leaves questions about its fate if Buttars would not return. "This is not an issue we're really anxious to take up at this time unless Senator Buttars is here to do it," Valentine said. "There are certain pieces of legislation that come before [lawmakers] when the sponsor of that legislation is the best person...to do it justice," he said. "I don't think there is anyone here who could do it justice. He should do it." Sen. Curt Bramble, a Republican from Provo, is prepared to carry Buttars's other bills, including the Origins of Life measure, leaders say, if the West Jordan Republican does not return. While Bramble said he opposes gay clubs, he will not be running Buttars's GSA bill. "I don't have the background," he said. "[It] takes a fairly significant commitment to understand the nuances" of court rulings on clubs at a time when he's focused on tax reform legislation. Tilton, a Republican from Springville, says his House Bill 393, Public Education Club Amendments, is close to public release and will look "virtually identical" to SB97. "I will probably be more aggressive in my bill" and require parental notification of some kind, Tilton said. The bill also "may or may not" set up a rating system, such as those for movies, that the school district could apply "so a parent would be made aware...of the [club's] nature that might conflict with a value they might hold." The rating might be included in a parental permission slip, he said. "It will restrict clubs, in my opinion, that...don't adhere to community standards," Tilton said of the bill. SB97 directs schools to disallow clubs if they encourage criminal conduct, promote bigotry, or involve human sexuality, which it said includes "promoting or encouraging self-labeling by students in terms of sexual orientation" and "disclosing attitudes or personal conduct of students or members of their families regarding sexual orientation, attitudes, or beliefs." Clubs also could be denied if the school deems it necessary to protect the "physical, emotional, psychological, or moral well-being of students and faculty," maintain order, protect parent and student rights, maintain "boundaries of socially appropriate behavior," or ensure compliance with all applicable laws and policies. The first Gay-Straight Alliance club in Utah was started in 1995 at East High School, and there are now about 14 such clubs in Utah public schools. Supporters of the clubs contend they are protected by the federal Equal Access Act, which was cosponsored by Utah U.S. senator Orrin Hatch, and requires any public secondary school accepting federal funds to allow all school clubs equal access to its facilities. It was aimed at protecting student religious activities. Martin Bates, Granite School District attorney and assistant to the superintendent, questions whether the anti-club bill would affect formation of gay-straight alliances if they do not talk about sex. A number of principals have said the clubs do not discuss sex. (AP)

Advocate Magazine - KehlaniAdvocate Magazine - Gus Kenworthy

From our Sponsors

Most Popular

Latest Stories