Utah says ‘anti-gay’ is not in so-called ‘No Promo Homo’ law

Posted at 8:22 AM, Nov 30, 2016
and last updated 2016-11-30 10:22:03-05

SALT LAKE CITY — Responding to a lawsuit filed over policies that forbid discussion in schools of anything deemed “advocacy” of homosexuality, the Utah Attorney General’s Office challenged an LGBT rights group and three students alleging harassment to find the words “anti-gay” in the statute.

“Defendants assert that the statutes and administrative rules referenced in Plaintiffs’ Amended Complaint speak for themselves and deny that those statutes or rules contain the phrase ‘Anti-Gay Laws,'” assistant Utah Attorney General David Wolf wrote in a formal response to the lawsuit leveled by Equality Utah and the National Center for Lesbian Rights on behalf of three students.

A dozen times in the response, the state asserted that the statute did not explicitly use the words “anti-gay.” They also cited governmental immunity in response to the litigation.

Equality Utah and three students filed the lawsuit earlier this year against the Weber, Jordan and Cache County School Districts, the Utah State Board of Education and Utah State Schools Superintendent Sydnee Dickson over the law LGBT rights activists have dubbed “No Promo Homo.” The lawsuit claims the state statute forbids discussion of homosexuality in classes that could be construed as a “positive” portrayal.

LGBT rights activists have alleged the statute harms children because it shuts down any discussion of sexual orientation or lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender people. The three students — who have been allowed to sue under pseudonyms — have claimed harassment because of their sexual orientation in schools.

Regarding a 7-year-old plaintiff who is considered “gender non-conforming,” the state insisted that the Weber County School District took adequate steps to protect the child and investigate harassment. The Cache and Jordan School Districts also denied wrongdoing.

The case has been assigned to U.S. District Court Judge Dee Benson. A hearing has not yet been scheduled.

Read the Utah Attorney General’s filing here: