School District Revises Unconstitutional Policies, Allows Formation of Gay-Straight Alliances
Posted 4/26/10 - Under pressure from the ACLU of Utah, the Washington County School District agreed to implement district-wide revisions to its policies for forming non-curricular student clubs. These revisions made it possible for students at four St. George-area high schools—Desert Hills, Dixie, Pine View, and Snow Canyon—to form Gay-Straight Alliances (GSAs) for the first time in the schools’ history.
The ACLU informed the district in February that several of its high schools enforced requirements for club formation that threatened to silence the First Amendment rights of students with unpopular or minority views. These included, for example, onerous petitioning and signature requirements, majority or unanimous approval of an “executive council” comprised of other students, approval by the principal, and then a majority or two-thirds vote of the school’s faculty; neither the “executive council” nor the principal or faculty was provided with any objective criteria to guide their decisions. Several of the policies also required that clubs promote only "wholesome" or "moral" activities consistent with "community mores."
Once notified, district administrators worked cooperatively with the ACLU to eliminate these unconstitutional, school-specific criteria, and required for the first time that all high schools adhere to the district’s objective, facially neutral policies for club formation. Of the four GSA applications that were submitted subsequent to the change, all four have been approved.
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Gay Teens - Battling Bias One Mind at a Time
A Salt Lake Tribune Editorial
Posted 5/3/10 - "But this year, all it took was some correspondence from the American Civil Liberties Union of Utah to grease the skids for the kids in the Washington County School District. GSA clubs at four of the district's five high schools --- Dixie, Desert Hills, Snow Canyon and Pine View -- will officially form this fall."
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