25 years ago today - Jan 30, 1996
The Utah Senate closes a bi-partisan caucus billed as a discussion of a state education fund. Those present include about twenty senators, state commissioner of higher education, state superintendent of public education, and attorneys from the governor's and attorney general's offices. No vote is taken to close the meeting nor are minutes kept, though both are required by Utah's Open Meeting Act. Behind the closed doors, LDS senators Howard Stephenson and Charles Stewart level charges that public schools are promoting homosexuality and undermining family values. The meeting had been arranged after ten students petitioned to use a classroom at East High School for a gay and lesbian support group "to increase awareness about homosexuality in high schools, to decrease homophobia, and to help gay, lesbian, and bisexual students feel safe and welcome in their school environment". The students did not request meeting announcements or advertising, "we feel doing so would attract unwanted attention. We are extremely concerned for the safety and well-being of our members." The resulting controversy reaches national headlines when, with a four-to-three vote, the Salt Lake City school board bans all extracurricular clubs rather than allow the gay and lesbian support group.