Alex Blaze

It's baaa-aaack

Filed By Alex Blaze | February 28, 2007 1:01 AM | comments

Filed in: Living
Tags: Gay-Straight Alliance, schools, utah

Remember that bill I blogged about earlier going through the Utah House to block GSA's from forming in schools, and reader Lynn pointed out in comments that it was gone? Well, it's back. From the Salt Lake Tribune (sometimes I just love how local papers cover issues):

Lawmakers gutted it and then restored it.
Passed it and then pulled it back.
No bill has been tweaked more than the one targeting gay support clubs in high schools but also affecting many other student groups.
The tinkering ended Monday with a final compromise among Republicans.
Over the objections of Democrats, the House sent the bill, sponsored by Springville Republican Rep. Aaron Tilton, to the desk of Gov. Jon Huntsman Jr.
So like yeah, it's there. The governor said he opposed the version of the bill last year that was so complex that it prompted one state rep to say: "it was easier to start a corporation than it would be to create a high school club".

Of course, the right wing there (not all Republicans in Utah support it, but you can fill in the blank: "The bill is supported by the far _____.") said before that it wasn't targeted at GSA's, which is laughable, but the Tribune printed this lovely paragraph:

Buttars, on the other hand, hopes to give administrators the ability to block clubs such as the Gay Straight Alliance without fearing a massive legal bill. He expects the attorney general's office to handle any lawsuits that would stem from a school district blocking a club.
Because when you're passing legislation you know goes against federal law, the main point has to be that challenging it requires the Attorney General to be on your side.

This story has irked me on so many levels. Besides the total acknowledgement that it goes against the Federal Equal Access Act and it being an attempt to circumvent federal law by just making it harder to challenge homophobic school administrators, the whole point of the bill is to hurt our community's children. GSA's often do a wonderful job of helping build awareness of GLBT issues at an age where such awareness is, to quote Salt 'n' Pepa, very necessary. The only point in getting rid of them would be to further marginalize those kids at an age when being accepted by one's peers is a key component in developing a positive self image.

Then again, that's heterosexual supremacy. It's not about opposing homosexual acts or preserving the family or whatever else they say. It's about materially and psychologically hurting GLBT people both as a community and as individuals because of that identity. They say they are against GSA's to keep us from recruiting, but there's no excuse for not knowing that that's impossible in 2007. None.

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Yikes! I knew from the previous Salt Lake Tribune article that the bill would be back. But I didn't realize that the republicans would just broker a back room deal and send it off to the governor for his signature. I thought the revamped bill would at least undergo some extra deliberation; but I guess when you have the mojo in both houses a party can do what it wants.

At least the governor seems to have half a head on his shoulders. He may just pocket veto it (if that is an option in Utah).

From all I have read over the last few years about the goings-on in Utah, Buttars seems to be just so rabidly homophobic as to be almost incoherant at times. Doesn't he know that the Alliance Defense Fund, ACLJ, Landmark Legal Foundtion, and probably a host of other right-wingers just as rabid as he and are more than happy to supply legal representation and monetarily back court actions against GSAs?

Buttars should be skewered by his electorate (doubtfully will, however) after the Utah AGs office suddenly ends up with budgets that are double or triple what they should be. Or if the Utah AG is anywhere near smart he'll simply cave in every instance after the ACLU beats his pants off in the first test case. Buttars will be apoplectic!

But in the short term this only promotes intolerance in the school-yard. And creates a stumbling block where none should be for those interested students. Hopefully, there will be that one first dedicated group of students who back their GSA and push it into the courts. I like the way you put it in your last two paragraphs.

And who says we don't recruit? Just ask my Indiana state senator, John Waterman, the Hoosier Buttars.