ST. GEORGE – A bill repealing Utah’s so-called “No Promo Homo” classroom policy was passed by the Legislature Wednesday. The law prohibited discussion in public schools that could be construed as advocating homosexuality or speaking positively to it.
2017’s Senate Bill 196, Health Education Amendments, sponsored by Sen. Stuart Adams, R-Layton, passed the Senate in a 27-1 vote. It passed the House in a 68-1 vote on Tuesday. It now goes to Gov. Gary Herbert’s office for consideration where he can either sign or veto the bill.
“This bill repeals language prohibiting the advocacy of homosexuality in health instruction,” the legislation states in its opening lines.
“We’re focusing on making sure we treat all kids equally,” Adams said in a Senate committee hearing on the bill in February. “What this bill does is it allows us to focus on just that, making sure we treat everyone equally whether it’s homosexuality or heterosexuality. The state has a compelling interest to teach all children.”
The bill may help spare the state a lawsuit filed by LGBTQ advocacy groups and three students last October. The lawsuit argues the First and 14th amendments of teachers and students are being violated by limiting their rights of free speech, equal protection and free access.
The law, often referred to as “anti-gay school laws” in the lawsuit, also creates a negative environment for LGBTQ youth, the lawsuit states.
Equality Utah and the National Center for Lesbian Rights and the three students are specifically suing the Utah State Board of Education, Sydnee Dickson in her capacity as the State Superintendent of Public Instruction of the State of Utah, and the Cache County, Jordan and Weber school districts and related school boards.
The lawsuit was put on hold pending the outcome of Adams’ bill and may be resolved with a subsequent signature of the governor.
Supporters of the bill took to social media to praise the bill passing the Legislature.
“It’s official! The #UTLeg has passed #SB196 which strikes discriminatory language on ‘homosexuality’ from school curriculum. Thank you!” Troy Williams, executive director of Equality Utah, said over Twitter.
— Troy Williams (@TroyWilliamsUT) March 8, 2017
Sen. Jim Dabakis, D-Salt Lake, an openly-gay member of the Legislature, was also pleased.
“After so many years, the ‘No Promo Homo’ Law is dead in UTAH! Congrats to Equality Utah and so many who make this happen!” Dabakis said over Twitter as well.
— Jim Dabakis (@JimDabakis) March 8, 2017
While the “no promo homo” part of the law has bean repealed, it maintains that teachers are prohibited from “instruction that advocates premarital or extramarital sexual activity.”
According to Fox 13 News, Williams said Equality Utah will be meeting with the Utah Attorney General’s Office to discuss issues related to the lawsuit and possibly reach a settlement.
Each of Southern Utah’s representatives and senators (listed below) voted in favor of the bill.
- Read the bill: 2017’s Senate Bill 196 Health Education Amendments
- Contact legislators
- Bill sponsor: Sen. Stuart Adams | Co-sponsor: Rep. Keven Stratton
- Southern Utah Sens. Ralph Okerlund, Don Ipson, Evan Vickers and David Hinkins | Listing of all senators.
- Southern Utah Reps. Walt Brooks, Merrill Nelson, Brad Last, John Westwood, Mike Noel, V. Lowry Snow and Jon Stanard | Listing of all members of the House of Representatives
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