SALT LAKE CITY, Utah, Oct. 22, 2016 (Gephardt Daily) — Two gay rights organizations have filed a lawsuit against the Utah State Board of Education and three school districts on behalf of three students.
The suit — filed Friday in Federal Court by Equality Utah and the National Center for Lesbian Rights — challenges a Utah law that forbids the in-school discussion of homosexuality in a way that portrays the orientation in a positive light that could be interpreted as advocacy.
The law, which LGBT rights activists have nicknamed “NoPromoHomo,” prevents such discussion of homosexuality in classes including sex education, history, or school clubs.
The lawsuit claims the First Amendment rights of students and teachers are violated in limiting their free speech.
The minors in the case are referred to as John Doe, James Doe and Jane Doe, names assigned to protect their identities.
John Doe is described as a 7-year-old boy who is non-gender conforming, who occasionally wore dresses to school when he studied in a Weber County school.
James Doe is gay, and attends public high school in the Cache County School District. Jane Doe is a lesbian who attends a public high school in the Jordan School District.
Also named in the suit are Sydnee Dickson, Superintendent of Public Instruction of the State of Utah; the Jordan, Weber and Cache county school districts; and the board of education in each of the districts.
Equality Utah Executive Director Troy Williams shared his thoughts on his Facebook page.
“In Utah, we have a state law that forbids public school teachers from affirming the lives of LGBTQ students — one that openly disparages our relationships and treats our very lives as a shameful secret that must never be acknowledged, much less embraced. The name that we’ve come to call it is ‘NoPromoHomo.’
“Utah’s public schools have violated the equal protection and free speech rights of both students and teachers. We believe that this law is blatantly unconstitutional,” the post states.
“So, Equality Utah, our friends at the National Center for Lesbian Rights and the powerhouse national law firm Ropes and Grey have joined forces. Last night we filed a lawsuit to strike down ‘NoPromoHomo’ once and for all.”