Equality Utah files lawsuit over what it calls ‘anti-gay school laws’

Oct 22, 2016 by

SALT LAKE CITY — A federal lawsuit by Equality Utah accuses the Utah State Board of Education, its superintendent and three school districts of enacting “anti-gay school laws” targeting LGBT students and prohibiting positive talk about homosexuality.

The lawsuit filed late Friday in Utah’s U.S. District Court outlines the experiences of three students — in elementary, middle and high school — and claims the board of education’s policies regarding homosexuality and LGBT student organizations violate constitutional rights of equal protection and free speech, as well as Title IX protections.

The effect is an environment the chills would-be supportive teachers, creates an unaccpeting climate for LGBT teachers, and leaves isolated LGBT students vulnerable to bullying and unable to fully participate in school activities, according to the lawsuit.

The lawsuit is the first in the U.S. to challenge anti-gay school policies, according to a joint press release from the Equality Utah advocacy group, the National Center for Lesbian Rights and the global Ropes & Gray LLP law firm.

“These are some of the last remaining anti-LGBT laws that are currently being enforced in the country, and they’re especially odious, because they explicitly apply to school classes on every subject,” Equality Utah Executive Director Troy Williams said in a prepared statement. “These laws send a message that our lives are shameful and must be hidden and censored. They create a deadly culture of silence and non-acceptance, causing harms that can never fully be undone.”

Emilie Wheeler, spokeswoman for the Utah State Board of Education, declined comment Saturday, saying the board has not yet had time to review the lawsuit.

Source: Equality Utah files lawsuit over what it calls ‘anti-gay school laws’ | Deseret News

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