Friday, December 16, 2005

State Senator Wants to Ban Gay-Straight Clubs

(Link) "Oh, that silly Sen. Buttars,'' said Dani Eyer, executive director of the Utah chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union. "What would we do without him?"


LNewsEditor said...

JIC Post:
& Associated Press

Backed by the Utah Eagle Forum, state Sen. Chris Buttars plans legislation to ban high school gay-straight clubs.

"I'm concerned about gay clubs,'' the West Jordan Republican said Wednesday, a day after opening a bill file for the legislation he said would ban the gay student associations from meeting on public school property.

"In my mind, if you are in the chess club, what do you talk about? Chess,'' Buttars said. "If you are in the dance club, what do you talk about? Dance. If you are in a gay club, what do you talk about?

"I just don't believe members of sexual-orientation clubs should be sanctioned by the public schools–what they are talking about even a part of the public schools. They should not be allowed to have that on school property at all. It's just wrong,'' he said.

Utah Eagle Forum President Gayle Ruzicka said Buttars' bill would simply clarify existing law, which curtails what may be said in schools about sexuality.

"We're looking at the law saying, what do we need to do to help the districts? Most of the districts don't want the clubs,'' she said. "Provo certainly wouldn't have a club if it didn't have this fear (of lawsuits) hanging over its head ... (or) if it were up to parents.''

A Gay-Straight Alliance club started at Provo High School this fall.

The federal Equal Access Act, which was co-sponsored by Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, requires any public secondary school accepting federal funds to allow all school clubs equal access to its facilities. It was aimed at protecting student religious activities.

The first Gay-Straight Alliance club in Utah was started in 1995 at East High School. In order to ban the club and still comply with the federal law, the Salt Lake City Board of Education eliminated all non-curriculum clubs. That action drew protest, and the school board in 2000 allowed all clubs, including the Gay-Straight Alliance club.

There are now 14 gay-straight clubs in Utah public schools, said Stan Burnett, director of youth programs for the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender Community Center of Utah.

Opponents of Buttars' proposed legislation contend it would run afoul the same legal obstacles as previous attempts to ban the clubs did.

"Oh, that silly Sen. Buttars,'' said Dani Eyer, executive director of the Utah chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union. "What would we do without him? He just doesn't have a nuanced concept of constitutionally mandated fairness and freedoms.''

Ruzicka disputes that the proposed legislation would conflict with the equal-access law.

"Equal access does not allow for illegal or immoral activities, (nor) does our Utah law. Would they allow a marijuana club? ... Because we have an equal access law doesn't mean they have to allow every club in there,'' she said.

"Districts (allowing gay-straight clubs) either don't understand the law, they're ignoring the law, or they're under pressure,'' she said.

Buttars said he is not afraid of a lawsuit.

"I know the school districts and some others are scared of the ACLU. Not me,'' he said.

badphairy said...

Methinks Buttars will soon have egg on his face. He may also be toast.