Thursday, December 15, 2005

These clubs are not about sex

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According to an article published by, a Utah state senator is trying to ban gay-straight student clubs. Recently, a "gay-straight alliance" was formed at Provo High School in Provo, Utah. Its formation caused a firestorm of controversy in that community and has sparked a state-wide debate on the existence of these clubs in schools. According to the article:
Sen. Chris Buttars, R-West Jordan, already taking on the public school establishment with legislation to require schools to teach a religion-based alternative to the theory of evolution, is now aiming at high school gay-straight alliances as well. His effort is backed by the conservative Utah Eagle Forum. "I'm concerned about gay clubs," Buttars said Wednesday, a day after opening a bill file regarding extra-curricular clubs. Buttars said his goal is to ban 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." Utah Eagle Forum President Gayle Ruzicka says Buttars' bill would simply clarify existing law, which curtails what can and can't be said in terms of sexuality in public school health classes, school clubs and even surveys. And it certainly leaves no room for a school club that on its face indicates sexuality. "That's talking about the sex the people involved practice . . . clearly violating the law," Ruzicka said. "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. . . . 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."
Opponents say, however, that Sen. Buttars is just wasting his time and the time of taxpayers. Current United States law allows gay-straight student clubs in public high schools through a law known as the Federal Equal Access Act. The Act was created in 1984 and was originally meant to stop the restriction of religiously based student groups by school districts. The Federal Equal Access Act restricts schools from prohibiting student clubs on the basis of their philosphical, religious or political content or ideologies. Many school districts simply create two classifications for student clubs: "school sponsored" and "non-school sponsored." The Winston-Salem/Forsyth County School System has such a policy which allows political and religious groups to exist on campus under a "non-school sponsored" classification. Gay-Straight Alliances (GSAs) are not about sex. I had to fight that battle while organizing the gay-striaght alliance at Reynolds High School. GSAs are about bringing awareness and education to members of the student body. They are about diversity and equality. GSAs help to create more positive school atmospheres for LGBTQ and straight allied youth. More than this, GSAs give LGBT students a chance to know that they are not alone and that they are not "evil". With such a high depresssion rate and suicide rate amongst LGBT youth (the rates are dropping every year), GSAs help LGBT youth to have higher self-esteems, better self-image and they help students to become active and involved within their schools and communities. It is very clear that Utah State Senator Buttars is seeking to paint GSAs as nothing more than "sex clubs" which will advocate gay sex. This is just absolutely false. Sen. Buttars' actions are all the proof anyone needs if they have a question as to why students need to form gay-straight student clubs. Harassment, discrimination and prejudice have no place in our schools... neither does the advocacy of sex, whether gay or straight. GSAs help to reduce discrimination and prejudice and they do not advocate sex. Sen. Buttars needs to stop causing drama... even if his legislation passes it will be challenged and it will be found un-Constitutional. By banning gay-straight student clubs, his legislation will not only be in violation of the Federal Equal Access Act but also the Constitution... as American citizens, students still retain the right to freedom of association. These clubs are not about sex... they are about stopping the prejudice and discrimination which Sen. Buttars is currently advocating in the State of Utah. Maybe he should go to a few meetings and see what it is all really about... but then again he might have some internalized homophobia to deal with. Technorati Tags: , ,