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Senate approves lifting ban on ‘advocacy of homosexuality’ in Utah schools

First Published      Last Updated Mar 02 2017 01:21 pm


Education » Nearly unanimous approval sends bill to the House.

The Utah Senate gave near-unanimous approval on Wednesday to ending a state ban on the advocacy of homosexuality in public school sex education courses.

Senators voted 24-1 in favor of SB196, which replaces the homosexuality language with a restriction against advocating "premarital or extramarital sexual activity."

Utah law already restricts sex education to a format focused on abstinence and marital fidelity. But Adams has described SB196 as adding "belts and suspenders" to the law, while also decreasing the state's vulnerability to litigation after court rulings that legalized same-sex unions nationwide.

"Utah is abstinence-based," Adams said. "And the [school districts] are in control of their curriculum of choice."



The advocacy group Equality Utah is currently suing the state over its so-called "no promo homo" laws. And critics of the current statute have argued that it puts educators in a position where they can not acknowledge the existence of lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender individuals, or intervene if an LGBT student is being bullied by their peers.

Both Equality Utah and the state's attorneys agreed to suspend the lawsuit while lawmakers debated SB196, but representatives of Equality Utah have suggested removal of the "advocacy of homosexuality" language from state code may not be enough to satisfy the concerns of their lawsuit.

Equality Utah board member Clifford Rosky said the group is thrilled to see lawmakers recognize that all students are equal and should be treated with respect.

"We are confident that we can work with the attorney general, the state Board of Education and local school districts to bring an end to the tragic history of discrimination against LGBT students in our state," Rosky said.

Sen. Margaret Dayton, R-Orem, cast the lone opposing vote in the Senate. The bill will now be moved to the House for consideration.

bwood@sltrib.com

Twitter: @bjaminwood

 

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