LGBTQ Groups Unite to File Leading Edge Lawsuit Against the Utah State Board of Education
challenging a law that forbids any discussion of homosexuality in schools
On Friday October 21st 2016, Equality Utah and The National Center for Lesbian Rights came together to file a lawsuit against the Utah State Board of Education on behalf of three separate students in the Utah public school system. To protect their privacy, the students that the lawsuit has been filed on behalf of are only being identified in court documents as “John Doe,” “James Doe” and “Jessie Doe.”
The lawsuit is being brought forth to challenge a law that forbids any discussion of homosexuality in schools that might be interpreted as ‘advocacy.’ Because the law prevents any discussion of sexual orientation and LGBT people, the lawsuit is claiming that the children are being harmed by the laws existence.
Concerned Parents want to protect their children from harrassment
One of the plaintiffs, a seven-year-old boy, claims that he’s been subjected to harassment that started as early as kindergarten because of gender nonconformity. When the child’s parents tried to complain to the school district about their child being bullied, Equality Utah claims that the district advised the parents that they could not do anything to protect the child because of the law.
Another one of the plaintiffs is a gay teen who claims he has been suffering from harassment during high school. This plaintiff also claims that he was not even allowed it to give an accurate school report on his family history because he was not allowed to talk about his uncle who is in a same-sex marriage.
hand holding double standard
The third plaintiff is a girl who claims she is being targeted in middle school for holding another girls hand. This plaintiff also claims that heterosexual teenagers face no punishment at all for similar public displays of affection.
No Promo Homo
The anti-gay law has been nicknamed the “No Promo Homo” law by the LGBT activists. The law has banned schools from discussing anything about homosexuality that could be interpreted as a “positive” portrayal in regular classes like sex ed and history, as well as in any student clubs.
Executive director of Equality Utah, Troy Williams, has called these laws some of the last remaining anti-LGBT laws being enforced in the United States today. Mr. Williams went on to say that “these laws send a message that our lives are shameful and must be hidden and censored. They create a deadly culture of silence and non-acceptance, causing harm that can never fully be undone. The time has come to end the stigma and straight down the shameful law.”
first Amendment rights of teachers and students being violated
Utah is the first one of the eight states that enforce this law to be challenged in court. This first-of-its-kind lawsuit is claiming that not only are the First Amendment rights of teachers and students being violated, this law is also violating federal education laws as well. The lawsuit is seeking an injunction to stop this “No Promo Homo” law from being enforced in Utah schools.
The Utah Attorney General’s Office, which is representing the Utah State Board of Education, the school districts named in the lawsuit, and Superintendent Sydnee Dickson, declined to comment the night that the lawsuit was filed.
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