From Equality Utah
In a vote of 41 to 29, with 5 Representatives absent, the House of Representatives voted to accept the Senate’s 4th Substitute of HB 236, Student Clubs Amendments, sponsored by Rep. Tilton and Sen. Buttars. 38 votes were needed for the 4th Substitute to be adopted.
Senator Buttars and Representative Tilton have each expressed opposition to Gay Straight Alliances in public schools. HB 236 does not specifically prohibit GSAs, but ambiguous language about why a school can ban a club may give school administrators the impression that they can ban GSAs.
However, history shows that this bill will not affect the rights of students to form GSAs. The requirements of HB 236 are comparable to the current rules for the Granite School District. Under those rules, GSAs have been able to form and meet. The Hunter High GSA is an example. Additionally, every time a court has decided whether public schools can ban GSA’s, they have held that the Equal Access Act prevents schools from targeting GSAs while allowing other clubs.
Equality Utah maintains that HB 236 was unnecessary and burdensome and that it may have a chilling effect that discourages students from forming any club. However we are confident that students in public secondary schools will continue to be able to form GSAs whenever and wherever they want. Moreover we commit to work with existing GSAs and the Utah Pride Center to create a GSA application format which students can use to create a GSA in any of Utah’s public schools.
Here is how the representatives voted:
SEQUENCE #384 STATE OF UTAH 4SHB236
HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES BY Tilton, A.
2007 General Session of the 57th Legislature
Student Clubs Amendments
FEBRUARY 21, 2007 Curtis
10:21:45 AM Student Clubs SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE
YEAS – 41
Aagard Donnelson Hughes Ray
Andersen Dougall Hunsaker Sandstrom
Barrus Draxler Hutchings Snow
Bird Dunnigan Kiser Sumsion
Bowman Frank Mathis Tilton
Brown Froerer Morley Urquhart
Buxton Garn Neuenschwander Walker
Clark, D. Gibson Newbold Wimmer
Clark, S. Grover Noel
Daw Harper Oda
Dee Herrod Painter
NAYS – 29
Allen Fowlke Litvack Seelig
Becker Hansen Mascaro Shurtliff
Biskupski Hemingway McGee Wheatley
Cosgrove Hendrickson McIff Wiley
Duckworth Holdaway Menlove Wyatt
Ferry Johnson Morgan
Fisher, Janice King Moss
Fisher, Julie Last Riesen
ABSENT OR NOT VOTING – 5
Bigelow Lockhart Curtis