Senate to debate gay club ban

Illustrated rainbow pride flag on a pink background.

The Senate will debate a bill proposing a ban on gay school clubs after its education committee voted in favour for the law yesterday.

The amended bill was endorsed by the Senate Education Committee on a 4-2 vote Monday, and will now get a debate by the full Senate. Some fear the original language would ban gay-straight alliance clubs (GSAs) from Utah’s public high schools, but the Utah attorney general said it would run afoul of federal equal access laws

The architect of the bill, Sen. Chris Buttars said it would clarify for state school districts what the rules are for granting charters for non-curricular clubs. The West Jordan Republican said districts need the clarification so they can make decisions without fear of lawsuits from the American Civil Liberties Union.

“Otherwise if you wanted to have a Texas Hold ‘Em club, poker, you could do that and they could say we’re not gambling, we’re just teaching them how the game works,” Mr Buttars told the Associated Press.

“You could have the same thing with a Nazi club, or any other extreme club.”

Mr Buttars accused the GSAs of being tools used by homosexuals to recruit others to their lifestyle.

“I’ve said all the way along to screen out, in a school of 2,000, kids that are confused or that might have a question and they can come to this and be indoctrinated,” he said.

Students and advisers involved with the clubs have said they do not discuss sexuality and that the clubs are support groups.

If the Senate and House bills both continue to pass, the sponsors would have to find a way to coordinate their legislation in statute, or decide which version of the bill should get a final endorsement by both legislative houses.

The bill would change state law regarding student clubs at public schools. Provisions include requiring students to have written parental permission to participate in a club; distinguishing between curricular and non curricular clubs, and giving districts the option of approving only curricular clubs; and allowing schools to spend public money on curricular clubs, but not non curricular clubs.