Education

Lawsuit Filed Against Utah’s ‘No Promo Homo’ Law

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Amber Randall Civil Rights Reporter
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A lawsuit filed Friday seeks to overturn a Utah state law that prohibits teachers from talking about homosexuality in a favorable way.

Two gay students and a 7-year-old gender-nonconforming are being represented by two gay right groups, the National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR) and Equality Utah, reports the Cache Valley Daily.com.

The suit alleges that current state law prevented a teacher from being able to properly help a 7-year-old student who was being bullied for wearing girl’s clothes.

The lawsuit also maintains that the law violates the 14th Amendment’s Equal Protection Clause, Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, and the Equal Access Act.

“They’re extremely stigmatizing to LGBT students. They basically send the message that their identity is something that’s too shameful to even be discussed in class,” said Christopher Stoll, a lawyer with the National Center for Lesbian Rights, on the law.

The Utah state law, passed in 2001 with little protest, prevents teaching on “advocacy of homosexuality,” as well as contraceptives and sex outside of marriage.

Dubbed the “No Promo Homo” law by gay activists, the law dictates that schools are not allowed to talk positively about homosexuality in clubs, sex ed classes or anywhere else.

The lawsuit alleges that the children named in the lawsuit suffered because of the “No Promo Homo” law. One plaintiff, a gay teenager, claims he was bullied and harassed; he also maintains that he couldn’t give a report in school on his family history because his uncle is married to a gay man.

A girl plaintiff says students made fun of her because she held another girl’s hand. She pointed out that heterosexual students are able to hold hands without being punished.

“It is long past time for these dangerous laws to be struck from the books. The U.S. Supreme Court has held that sexual orientation is ‘a normal expression of human sexuality’ and that LGBT people must be treated equally under the law. These laws openly discriminate against LGBT students and teachers,” Kate Kendell, the executive director of NCLR, said in a statement.

The Utah Attorney General’s Office, Superintendent Sydnee Dickson and the school districts involved in the lawsuit have not made a comment yet.

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