Welcome to Utah - Unless you are LGBT

Equality Utah and three families are challenging the state’s Don’t-Say-Gay rule in a suit filed Monday in federal court. The rule is part of a sex education measure that was passed in 2001. It prohibits instruction on “advocacy of homosexuality” (whatever that means) along with
contraceptives and sex outside marriage.

Utah, you see, is a theocracy within the United States. The state makes unconstitutional laws in direct recognition of the theology of the Mormon church.

The plaintiffs accuse the state of “facially targeting lesbian, gay, and bisexual
persons for disparate treatment, by prohibiting positive student and
teacher speech about homosexuality, while permitting positive speech
about the sexual orientation of heterosexual persons.” Furthermore, the state prohibits
school clubs that support gay and lesbian students.

Christopher Stoll, a lawyer with the National Center for Lesbian Rights (which is assisting Equality Utah), told the AP that his organization may bring similar lawsuits in states like Arizona, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, South Carolina and Texas. “They’re extremely stigmatizing to LGBT
students,” he said. “ They basically send the message that their identity
is something that’s too shameful to even be discussed in class.”

According to the complaint, in at least one case the state schools “refused to protect a gender nonconforming student from bullying and harassment.” The students who are plaintiffs include a gay high school student who was bullied and prohibited from talking about his uncle’s same-sex marriage at school, a lesbian student who was punished for holding hands with a girl, and a 7-year-old gender nonconforming student who was teased and beaten by his classmates.

The complaint reads like a horror story:

Even the parents of other students harassed John [Doe] and called him names. … When John’s mother was dropping him off for picture day early in the school year, she heard a group of parents saying that she was “turning him into a faggot” by allowing John to wear dresses to school. His mother reported the incident to the principal, but he said that there was nothing he could do if she did not know the names of the parents and could not prove what they had said.”

Meanwhile, the kids inflicted a second-degree burn on the child’s hand. I wonder where they got the idea that such conduct was permissible (if not encouraged). According to Troy Williams, executive director of Equality Utah:

These are some of the last remaining anti-LGBT laws that are currently being enforced in the country, and they’re especially odious, because they explicitly apply to school classes on every subject. 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 harms that can never fully be undone. The time has come to end the stigma and strike down this shameful law.

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By David Cary Hart

Retired CEO. Formerly a W.E. Deming-trained quality-management consultant. Now just a cranky Jewish queer. Gay cis. He/Him/His.