Lawsuit Is Settled After The End Of A Prohibition Of Talking About Homosexuality In Schools

Oct 12, 2017

A photo from Equality Utah's allies dinner, with the three plaintiffs from the lawsuit; Katy Smith-Gish, Anna Turkel (the mother of the youngest plaintiff Kaiden, not pictured), and Josh Greer.
Credit Equality Utah

  Last year a lawsuit was filed to remove a 16-year-old law, nicknamed ‘No Promo Homo’ law, which prohibits teaching homosexuality in sex-ed classes in K-12 schools. The LGBT-rights group Equality Utah, recently settled the lawsuit after Utah repealed a law restricting talk about homosexuality in classrooms.

Troy Williams, executive director of Equality Utah, said a healthier school environment is being established with the new bill, in addition to a letter sent to Utah public and charter schools clarifying that discrimination on the basis of gender or sexuality would not be tolerated.

 

“Well, we want to create a culture where all young people know that they’re valued, that they’re loved and that they belong," said Williams. "So now LGBT students will be treated the same as their heterosexual counterparts. And we are very hopeful that this will open up a space for young people who maybe feel a little bit different, feel a little bit marginalized that they’ll know that they’re included and that they’re protected under state law.”

 

Christopher Stoll, an attorney at The National Center for Lesbian Rights, said he hopes the law change will influence other states with their own "No Promo Homo" laws.

 

“Well ya, there are at least eight other states that have similar laws," Stoll said. "They achieve essentially the same result as the former Utah law, but they do it in different ways to prevent school discussions of being gay in a positive light. So they are certainly ripe for challenge.”

 

The former law was used to remove a school library book about a family with two mothers and prevented teachers from protecting a 7-year-old, gender-nonconforming student from being bullied. Those claims were resolved in the settlement.