Posted By Eric Ethington (Author) on January 2, 2011
Utah – The State Legislature has done everything in their power to prevent Gay-Straight Alliances in schools, claiming that they’re “recruiting stations.” But despite their best efforts, the number of GSA’s has grown from 9 to 32 in the past 12 months, including 3 new clubs in St. George.
Schools in Utah have a long history of illegally forbidding students to create gay-straight alliances, clubs where students can meet and feel free from pressure to just be themselves. But thanks mostly to the Utah ACLU, school and district officials are no longer being allowed to hide behind their flimsy arguments.
Initially, the Utah legislature tried to just outright ban GSA’s in the state. But thanks to the work of advocacy groups highlighting the unconstitutionality of the move, the eventually settled in 2007 for a law that requires parental consent for membership in any school club, along with a ban on discussing sexuality.
Gayle Ruzicka, one of the leading bigots in the state, had this to say:
Gayle Ruzicka, president of the Utah Eagle Forum, a conservative family group, promoted the law. Its authors expected, she said, that requiring parental permission would deter some children from joining the alliances and that restricting topics for discussion would mean that “there’s not a lot of purpose in being there, and the clubs end up being pretty small.”
“I just don’t think these clubs are appropriate in schools,” Ms. Ruzicka said. “You can talk about providing support, but you’re also creating a gay recruiting tool.”
But it seems that her strategy had little, if any, effect. Students aren’t looking for a place to discuss sexuality, they’re looking for safe havens from the far-too-often constant teasing, bullying and harassment which can take place both in school and at home.
The nation has finally been alerted to the high number of LGBT teen suicides in the past year, with at least 4 of them taking place in Utah. The more clubs like this we see, the faster that rate falls as kids have a place they can be free, without having to hide who they truly are.