Judge allows LGBT students in lawsuit against Utah to be anonymous

Posted at 1:38 PM, Oct 29, 2016
and last updated 2016-10-29 15:44:17-04

SALT LAKE CITY — A federal judge has allowed three students who are part of a lawsuit against the state of Utah over its so-called “No Promo Homo” law to remain anonymous.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Brooke Wells issued a protective order on Friday, allowing the students to proceed in the lawsuit using the pseudonyms “John Doe,” “James Doe” and “Jane Doe.” The judge also allowed their parents to be referred to under pseudonyms in court filings and arguments.

Their identities will be disclosed to the Utah Attorney General’s Office, which is representing the state in the lawsuit, which may disclose them to members of the school districts or Utah State School Board, “but only if and when such disclosure is necessary to litigate this action,” Judge Wells wrote.

Kate Kendell of the National Center for Lesbian Rights, who is representing the students, argued in a motion that the children faced potential harassment as well as disclosure of their sexual orientation or gender non-conformity if their identities were disclosed as part of the lawsuit. One of the plaintiffs lives in a small town, another is a 7-year-old gender non-conforming child, the lawsuit claims.

FOX 13 reported earlier this month the NCLR and the LGBT rights group Equality Utah are suing the state over the law that forbids discussion of anything in Utah schools that might be construed as “advocacy” of homosexuality. Equality Utah has claimed that includes anything from sex ed to history class, where one plaintiff was prohibited from presenting a report on his family history because his uncle is in a same-sex marriage.

The gay rights groups have claimed the law has led to harassment and stigmatization of LGBT children in school. The 7-year-old child has faced bullying and harassment, the lawsuit claims. A middle school girl faced punishment for holding another girl’s hand in school.

The lawsuit is the first of its kind in the nation challenging such statutes. The Utah Attorney General’s Office is expected to respond to the lawsuit, but has so far declined to comment on the allegations.

Read the judge’s order here: