Monday, December 20, 2010

Utah State Senator Chris Buttars Will No Longer Challenge The Proliferation Of Gay-Straight Clubs On Utah High School Campuses

According to the Salt Lake Tribune, one of Utah's most powerful and articulate champions of traditional family values has decided to cut his losses and retire from fighting a battle that seems to have been lost.

Utah State Senator Chris Buttars (R-West Jordan), who previously struggled against the establishment of Gay-Straight Alliance (GSA) clubs on Utah high school campuses, will no longer pursue legislation designed to restrict them. Senator Buttars, who last attempted to legislatively quash GSAs in 2007, said "I would rather not see [gay-straight alliances in schools], but it’s not up to me...It’s up to the principal and the parents. That’s who should make decisions about these kids." He added that he has no plans for further legislation directed at student clubs.

GSAs have taken root under the protective cover of the 1984 Equal Access Act, which requires that schools receiving federal funding give all noncurricular clubs equal access to school resources. In addition, the First Amendment has been interpreted to protect students’ right to establish free-speech forums, whether or not school administrators agree with the subject matter. Nevertheless, the Utah law passed in 2007 still forbids clubs from discussing sexual activity outside of legally recognized marriages or contraception, and requires parental permission slips for membership in all secondary school clubs.

The bottom line - if a noted culture warrior like Chris Buttars has decided that this issue is no longer worth pursuing, then it's obviously a battle which can no longer be effectively fought. GSAs have proliferated nationwide, and concern that they might serve as recruiting portals for adult homosexuals seems to have abated. Furthermore, we've now seen the U.S. House and the U.S. Senate vote to remove roadblocks for the repeal of the military's "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy towards gay servicemembers. While I salute Senator Buttars for standing firm for so long, we now have more serious battles to wage.

And the most serious of all is gay marriage. Proponents of gay marriage have falsely donned the equality mantle. They misrepresent marriage as a "civil right". They insult racial minorities by sanctimoniously comparing the gay struggle to the racial civil rights struggle. They characterize opponents as haters and homophobes. The definition of marriage as being between one man and one woman must be preserved at all costs, otherwise we'll see demands to legalize plural marriage or even pedophilic marriage (marriage between adults and children). The battle for marriage is so important that GSA clubs pale by comparison.

The Gay & Lesbian Student Education Network (GLSEN) once made available a complete list of all GSAs nationwide, but stopped doing so in 2008. A partial list is available through the the GSA Network portal. Utah Pride Center has made a list available for Utah:

Cache County: Sky View and Logan

Carbon County: Carbon

Davis County: Clearfield, Syracuse and Woods Cross

Salt Lake County: East, West, Highland, Skyline, Hillcrest, Murray, Taylorsville, Kearns, Hunter, West Jordan, Cyprus, Rowland Hall (private school) and Academy of Mathematics, Engineering, and Science (charter school)

Summit County: Park City

Tooele County: Tooele

Washington County: Dixie, Snow Canyon, Pine View and Tuacahn School for the Performing Arts (charter school)

Weber County: Bonneville and Weber

Students are working to open additional clubs next year at schools in Pleasant Grove, Vernal, Grantsville, Sandy and South Jordan.

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