Utah Tries Again to Stop GSAs
Expect a number of "Geography Clubs" to appear in the state of Utah in the years ahead.If you recall, Utah tried to ban gay-straight alliances a few years ago. They ran into problems, however, due to the Federal Equal Access Act of 1984 which mandates that no school club can be singled out for discrimination (the law was originally passed to protect clubs of a religious nature).
So what was Utah's solution to this new wrinkle? Ban all extracurricular clubs. I kid you not. Legislators in that state decided it was better to have no clubs than to allow GLBTQ students to meet on school campuses.
As you might imagine, that didn't work out so well. So now Utah legislators are trying again:
Under the new Utah law, every club will have to complete an activity disclosure statement that itemizes what it will do, and discusses how many members it will have, and whether tryouts are required. It mandates that any student joining any club needs a parent’s signature — though most public schools in Utah require that already — and specifically bans any discussion by any club of “human sexuality.”This annoys me for about sixteen different reasons, but the biggest one is this continual insistence on the part of the anti-gay folks to equate "gay" with "sex." I've sat in on dozens of GSA meetings, and I personally led one for two years, and I've literally never seen sex discussed.
The law defines that term to mean “advocating or engaging in sexual activity outside of legal recognized marriage or forbidden by state law,” and “presenting or discussing information relating to the use of contraceptive devices.”
“This is all about gay-straight alliance clubs, and anybody who tells you different is lying,” said State Senator Scott D. McCoy, Democrat from Salt Lake City, who voted against the law.
State Senator D. Chris Buttars, a Republican from the Salt Lake City suburbs and the law’s co-sponsor, said in an interview that he saw the need for the measure after parents from a high school in Provo, Utah, protested the formation of a gay-straight club in 2005.
Gay community leaders and legal experts say the name of the law should be “Unintended Consequences.” Some gay community advocates said the effort to crack down on gay-straight clubs may have backfired and in fact strengthened Utah’s gay community.
Teenage leaders at some gay-straight clubs got politically involved and testified at the Capitol. One of the State Legislature’s three openly gay members successfully pushed through amendments that could limit the law’s effect and even perhaps increase visibility of gay-straight clubs in the 14 Utah public high schools that now have them, by requiring that all clubs get equal treatment on bulletin boards and in school newspapers.