Four Utah High Schools Approve Gay-Straight Alliance Groups
Four high schools in southern Utah have approved Gay-Straight Alliance clubs to be launched at the beginning of the next school year, according to the Salt Lake Tribune.
Desert Hills, Dixie, Pine View and Snow Canyon high schools in sunny St. George, Utah, will all have chartered clubs beginning fall 2010. The Washington County School district met with members of the ACLU in approving the groups after concerns that current school policies might not be in compliance with the First Amendment.
State education laws require students to agree they will not advocate extramarital sex or contraception, regardless of their group affiliation. Darcy Goddard, legal director for ACLU of Utah, noted, "There's no more reason to think that LGBT kids and their allies are going to talk about contraception than to think that the football team will or the chess club."
The student groups encountered significant opposition on their way to eventual approval, with some administrators making it difficult for them to create the clubs.
Two of the six high schools in the school district did not turn in charters for the clubs. The other four which did were all approved. A charter school in the district was first to approve a charter last year.
There are approximately 4000 chartered GSA clubs in high schools nationwide, which have as their mission primarily to provide education and support within the community.
Students at East High School in Salt Lake City, Utah, attracted national attention in 1998 when they sued the local school board for the right to have a Gay-Straight Alliance at that school.
Washington County is located in the far southwest corner of the state of Utah, with a population of approximately 140,000, some of whom are seasonal residents who flock there for the warm desert climate. It was recently named fifth nationwide in highest job-growth rate among counties in the United States. It has also been named one of the hundred most conservative-friendly counties in the nation in a state generally regarded to be philosophically and politically conservative.
Two of the students who submitted petitions for their St. George high schools to charter a GSA club, Logan Hunt and Jason Osmanski, who attend Dixie and Snow Canyon high schools respectively, in a family photograph from last fall attending Homecoming for Snow Canyon. (photo: Carolyn Osmanski for the Salt Lake Tribune)
On the Web:
Four St. George high schools allow gay clubs - The Salt Lake Tribune
Buttars Wants to Prohibit Gay Clubs - Deseret News
(top photo credit: socialliberal.com)