A measure striking down a school curriculum statute known as “no-promo homo” passed through the Utah House with only one dissenting vote on Wednesday, making its way to Gov. Gary Herbert’s desk with bi-partisan support.
Senate Bill 196 stems from a lawsuit filed in October 2016 by Equality Utah, an LGBTQ rights organization, against the Utah State Office of Education. The group called language in state code prohibiting the “advocacy of homosexuality” discriminatory and unconstitutional.
Republican Sen. Stuart Adams of Layton tabled his personal views to sponsor the legislation.ADAMS
"I actually believe that marriage should be between a man and a woman, but I also believe very, very strongly that we shouldn’t discriminate," Adams said. "And in a pluralistic society, people have differing views. And people have different views than mine, and it’s very important that we treat people fairly and equally, and that’s what we’re trying to accomplish here."
Adams said the measure that passed Wednesday won’t affect Utah’s abstinence-only sex education policy, which will continue to be enforced, but now it will be taught fairly to all students.
Equality Utah Executive Director Troy Williams says the passage of the bill shows a growing acceptance of LGBTQ Utahns, something he says derives from the Mormon pioneer history of seeking refuge from persecution.
"Now this is a very conservative body," Williams said. "This is a Republican, Mormon supermajority in the Legislature, and we’ve had twice within three years we’ve had this body positively affirm the rights of gay and transgender Utahns. And that to me is just what a signifier of how far we’ve come."
Williams said the passage of the bill doesn’t address everything in Equality Utah’s lawsuit, but he hopes, after ensuring the intent of SB196 is implemented in every school district, the group and the state can come to an agreement. For Utah Public Radio, I’m Emily Means.