December 7th, 2016
A Utah lawsuit was recently filed by Equality Utah and the National Center for Lesbian Rights, both LGBTQ groups, challenging laws that the groups find to discriminate against LGBTQ students by restricting conversations about homosexuality in schools. The Center has emphasized that existing laws indirectly communicate the message to LGBTQ students to hide their identities. Because this case has the potential to signify a movement regarding the rights of LGBTQ individuals in school settings, it is important for individuals are who interested in this issue to understand some key details about the lawsuit.
The Utah Law in Question
The law in question was part of a sexual education bill that was passed in Utah in 2001. This bill prohibits instruction that “advocates” homosexuality in addition to contraceptives and sex outside of marriage. Utah also has laws in place concerning marriage, childbirth, or parenthood. The effect of these regulations, however, is effectively squashing all support of LGBTQ equality within schools. Over the years, laws of this nature have been challenged throughout the United States with unsatisfactory results. Utah’s particular law in question, however, might result in more favorable results because the law strictly prohibits talk about homosexuality.
Schools in Utah have long struggled with how to comply with this law. In 2013, a school district’s library was required to obtain the permission of parents prior to loaning out a book concerning a lesbian couple who raised a child. In 2015, a central Utah school district desired to replace textbooks for psychology classes, but could not locate any books that did not discuss homosexuality.
Details About the Case
The case in question involves three Utah students including a kindergartner who faced bullying, beatings, and even scalding on a hot metal slide for wearing girl’s clothing. Eventually, after the child’s mother was told that school staff could not tell other children the bullied child’s behavior was okay, the child was pulled from school. As a direct result of these Utah regulations, these three students argue that they have been left with potentially lifelong trauma regarding the acceptance and recognition of LGBTQ individuals within the community.
The Argument Raised by the Lawsuit
The lawsuit in question challenges Utah law by raising several points. Firstly, this Utah regulation is in violation of the terms of the First Amendment of the Constitution of the United States. Utah regulations are also a violation of the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment of the Constitution. Utah’s regulations also violate two federal laws: Title IX and the Equal Access Act.
The Goal of the Universal Life Church
This lawsuit has the potential to mark the initiation of a series of similar lawsuit with the National Center for Lesbian Rights announcing the desire to potentially bring similar lawsuits in Arizona, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, South Carolina, and Texas. Courts in Utah have tended to lead the way in granting rights for individuals who identify as LGBTQ with Utah one of the very first states to remove its ban on gay marriage in December 2013. The Universal Life Church’s blog aims to inform readers about these and other developments concerning LGBTQ rights.