Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Utah's Afterschool Club Laws

After reading the article from the NY Times, what seems to be the real issue for the citizens and the students of Provo, Utah? Do schools have an obligation to protect the moral well being of the students who traverse their halls?

How does the Equal Acess law of 1984 impact the effectiveness of this law?

What has to happen for the validity of this law to be decided upon by the courts?
Who gets to decide the "moral well being" of students?
I have also sent an email inviting both teachers and students from several schools in Utah to respond on our blog.


Edwin S. Genao said...

The Mormon people in Salt Lake City Utah are trying to discourage gay people in their community from being gay. This country was founded on tolerance for all people. They are trying to tell their gay school children that they have no right to have a club after school.
They feel that public money should not be used to fund gay clubs. The new law said that students joining any club need a parent signature to join. They also ban any discussion of human sexuality. I don’t think this is right, it goes against my freedom of expression.
I feel bad for gay people it makes their lives harder.

kazrith said...

My oh My. This makes me even more proud to live in Canada. It really maddens me to see the world's most "powerful" country lagging so far behind the rest of the advanced world.
statistically, 3:2 people in Canada and the UK think positively in the respect of homosexuality, where as it is the exact opposite in the USA. 3:2 people are against homosexuality.
I believe that Utah is missing the finer points and just seeing the big ones. they are missing how such enviroments provide a save, supportive place for kids to go and where they know that other people are going through the same thing and can get help from each other.
what Utah is thinking about is that such groups are only existing so their "might be" gay youth have a place to meet and set up dates. - sure, that might happen but it isnt the main basis of the club. as an example: Brent Hartinger's book the Geography Club - Brenda (i think that is her name) joins the club (which, for those of you who have not read the book is a club that is not all that it seems. it is a place where 4 kids can go and feel safe and talk privately about who they are and spend time with the person's they like without the criticism from the rest of the school) thinking that the club is what it says it is. after finding out what it is, she still attends because she feels she can relate to what they are going though. the club starts out as a place to meet, but becomes so much more by 3/4 of the way though the book (sorry brent! i am trying to be desceet with the plot here! its not the main plot so i think i'm okay... i hope).
Utah also is thinking about the "moral" issues here. My question to Utah is this: is it morally exceptable to leave these kids to fend for themselves?

this may sound pessimistic, but i would think that the teen suicide rate just might increase if these clubs were not allowed to meet.


Josh said...

So many issues that are ouccuring in schools, are starting to become more and more public. This is actually beneficial to the studentrs though becuase it gives them a chance to find their voices and express their opinions about the issues that they face everyday. Even though I do feel that students should have the right to organize any club they wish as long as it does not negatively change the school, I could see why an uproar was created by the people who live in the surrounding city. If the people of this city in Utah are all Mormons with strict morals and beliefs, a gay straight alliance in a school that they give their tax money to, is going to create controversy. A Gay lifestyle is not one that the people in the town support, so why would they support a club that is open minded to this lifestyle? Even though I understand their reactions, that does not mean that it is right. The students obviously feel that the only place they could express their opinions about this issue would be in a school environment. They could not organize themselves to be anywhere else and therefore should not be limited to talk about it with other people who feel the same way. Mr. Brown aqlways makes the point that the taxpayers are really the ones benefiting from the school in their towns. I think that that is acutally creating the problem. Taxpayers need to think more about how the students attending could benefiting and maybe things like teen pregnancy and a dropout rates would be lower, becuase students actually would be going to school to learn about things that they care about instead of what the taxpayers choose to fund.

Zohra Ali said...

The real issue for the citizens and the students of Provo, Utah seems to be the fact that there is a gay straight alliance club in their school, which angers them more because the town is mostly Mormon Christian.
I think that schools shouldn’t be obligated to protect the moral well being of students that traverse in their halls because in my opinion morals should be taught at home. If you teach your child not to spit at people, or disrespect people and you have a stern hold at home, your child wouldn’t do that in school. If your child is exposed to it they would know what they were taught and that what the other person is doing is wrong and shouldn’t be affected by it. Parents shouldn’t use the public school system as a rat trap for students to get morals beat into then they all have grown up in different places and come from a different set of morals. The public school system shouldn’t have to be the one installing morals when their job is to teach, and look after the physical and emotional, and physiological being of the child as the law that we looked at in class said.
The equal access law of 1984 defiantly is a loop hole for gay straight alliance clubs that are being targeted because it allows them to come together without any problem. If it was okay for bible studies club to be made, it should be allowed for a gay straight alliance club to meet to express their feelings and thought about sexuality. If the way schools are set up are to mimic society as a whole and the real world, why cant schools just as government has, a separation of church and school. Just because the neighborhood maybe Mormon Christian, it shouldn’t have any effect on the school because it’s the schools job to teach students and cater to them rather than their parents who aren’t the ones sitting in the seats. Students wont always be sheltered by their families and don’t share the same opinion as their families so they shouldn’t be under the same umbrella as their family, but represent themselves as individual of society however way they want to be represented.
All it takes is a minority group in the community of 32 people as we always say to vote as a block and make these things happen to be decided upon the courts. If the court sees what the community is thinking they might favor them but it might not always happen because the court is decided upon a federal court rather than a town court (referring back to the chart in class on the board).
The moral well being of students is decided upon the parents and the only the parents. I don’t think students should have teachers telling them what is right and wrong to them because if a guy and girl were kissing in hall and a teacher was okay with it and didn’t break them up it would be okay, but if two girls were kissing each other it would be broken up in a heartbeat by that teacher. But if it was another teacher, who accepted gay students neither of the couples would be broken up. Who gets the hand slap for doing the wrong thing, or the pat on the back for doing the right thing shouldn’t be in the hands of the educators and principles but the parents who raised the kids.
I agree with Josh that the money does come from the tax payers and since the money goes into the school they don’t want the school to support a gay straight alliance club which their religion is against, but it only makes my point stronger that their has to be a separation of church and school everywhere because its public school, not private school. If they don’t want their money going to a public school that supports gay teens, then they should spend their money on a private school that will support their religion and views, they cant chisel their way into the public school system and corrupt its free way of thinking and creating a censored environment for the students that unrealistic and could harm their mental, physical and physiological well being even more. It makes the issue broader and a problem that wont only reach out to the gay straight alliance club but a wave that will effect all freely thinking students of all ages, “Next month, a 17-page law will take effect governing just about every nuance of public school extracurricular clubs, from kindergarten jump rope to high school drama.”

W Brown said...

Very well stated Zohra. Thanks for sharing. The chilling effect you alluded to in your closing is quite scary.

nyshee..... said...

in class we talked about the mormons in utah and how they are trying to angry the gay community.. why cant you make a club so that everyone can feel at home? it's making the students feel bad and making them turn ther backs towards school and making something up for the students to come and join with there parnets siging for then to go to the clubs..

D. Guglielmini said...

I especially like this quote:
"Students wont always be sheltered by their families and don’t share the same opinion as their families "
This seems like an interesting discussion. I will be checking back to see if anyone from Utah posts.

vishnell said...

First and foremost in my opinion school is not just a place for you to get your education. It’s a place where you are suppose to feel safe and learn by feeling comfortable by knowing who you truly are with not having to worry about others judging you or putting you down. School is an escape to me. School is supposed to be an escape from the negative in your life and learning the right from wrong of different things. Many people learn a lot of good things from their homes. Then there are those who teach their parents from getting an education their parents might have not been able to get or there are some kids who can go to school and see that what their parents might have taught them may not be right. What I am trying to get at is every individual learns own their own. I personally learned so much from my family, school, teachers, fellow classmates, and friends. I take it how I want and do or agree with what I feel is right. Just because my family is telling me something doesn’t make it right. You can’t be drained in with facts and information from others with not having a clear understanding on your own. So I don’t really agree with Zohra when she said morals should be taught at home. You learn from everything. People change and decide what’s precise by them selves. I am not saying the school should have their kids sit down and learn about what they believe are the right morals but instead educate them about diversity and individuality. We are in 2007 not everything is like how mommy and daddy saw it. By knowing and seeing people different from you then kids can determine their “morals”. If it wasn’t for school and others outside my family helping me learn about homosexuality then I would most probably have a different opinion right now.

It’s clear that the main problem off what can be practiced or done in an after school program is because of a gay straight alliance club in a school in Utah. It’s so easy to see how scared parents are to see their children have a different opinion then them. Some people are so against gays that they are afraid with the gay straight alliance their kids will have different beliefs. Then there are those who are probably hurting their own children by taking away this club. Some kids may not feel secure at home with their sexuality so go to this club.

Now I 100% agree with Zohra with parents that don’t want their kids not being open to gays because of their religion should go to a private school. If people are so worried about their taxes going to schools and their children not being able to see the reality of the world then their kids shouldn’t be in a PUBLIC school. A public school should have clubs open to every type of individual with any type of beliefs, ideas, style, dream, desire, race, religion, and sexuality.

carolina barberii said...

School is a reflection of the future of our society, it is a place that is supposed to prepare you to be an open minded, educated and civilized individual. Within schools students are entitled to be protected from any physical or psychological harm which I believe should be strictly everywhere. However there is also a regulation that states that schools must protect each students “moral” well being. In my opinion public schools shouldn’t determine what is and isn’t the moral well being of a student. Morals stem from lifestyle and religion, two aspects which shouldn’t interfere with education. Who is to say what is morally correct or not? Morals aren’t something you should be forced to acquire in school, its something you gain as a result of how you’ve been raised and what you’ve made of experiences you are exposed to through out your life. They are a distinct set of standards each individual chooses to live by and what may seem right to one person may be wrong for someone else. That is why schools shouldn’t be responsible to determine what the moral well being is a of a student.
In the article we read in class the other day, it’s clear that the real issue in Provo, Utah is that parents (tax payers) feel that there shouldn’t be a gay-straight alliance club in school due to their Mormon beliefs. Like Josh mentioned I completely understand why this is even being taken into consideration by the school, if enough parents make an effort to shut down a club then they will probably get what they want since they are the ones funding the money to run the clubs. It really disappoints me though that these students are feeling disenfranchised and unheard. I think that the Mormon parents fighting to shutdown the club are so wrong and have forgotten what school is to some of these students. To many people school is an outlet, a place where they feel free to be themselves and not get penalized for it. In a mainly Mormon community, the gay-straight alliance was probably the only place where these students felt safe to freely speak of their sexualities. I think the community has to understand that in order to solve discrimination we must be exposed and accepting towards it, this club will open plenty of doors in the future and someday I truly think that by encouraging these clubs homosexuality will be accepted and appreciated. It may seem unfortunate to many people but homosexuality is everywhere around us, like Mrs. Grantz said “one in ten people are gay” and these numbers will only increase in the future. By learning to embrace it now we pave the way for a peaceful and safe future for all Americans.
I strongly agree with Zohra too, those who can’t accept the fact that public schools support gay straight alliance clubs should find another school for their children to attend. A school which revolves around their religion may suit them better. Its just so ridiculous that they would rather have a bible study club, whatever ever happened to separation of church and school?

~RitaMarie~ said...

Honestly, I am going to be the odd one out here. In majority, the following comments have stated, “school is a reflection of society.” Well what if my faith does not agree with society in their accepting view of homosexuality. I personally, do not agree with homosexuality because it is morally against my religion but at the same time I would never mock or condemn someone who has chosen that life style. In my opinion I do agree in that it is the school’s responsibility to take measures to protect the morality of the student population in its entirety. This means that majority DOES NOT rule. It is obvious that we are brought up in an accepting culture, where even I as a conservative refuse to judge someone based on his or her lifestyle. I however do not share the same beliefs as the Mormon Christians, but would like to clarify how they can justify that having a Gay Straight Alliance is morally offensive and against their religion. Mormons first and foremost believe, as stated in class, that the more children that a man has is the more space that he acquires in Heaven. These children cannot be adopted, but must be an offspring of his own. Whether we think that view is ridiculous or not, it still needs to be respected in that it is obvious that a person in a gay or lesbian relationship is not able to bear children. Legally as well as morally, one who is Mormon can honestly say that it goes against their faith and because they pay tax dollars as well, their side is just as valuable. Secondly, I think that we need to realize that this isn’t New York City or even the tri-state area where we have provided a separate school designed only for those leading an alternative lifestyle if they choose to attend. Our high school’s in general are far more accepting of homosexual relationships where as in Utah, in a predominantly Mormon community, this is something against their religion and rather than tolerating it they feel that it does not have a place in their town. However, in my opinion, I think that because it is the school’s responsibility to protect the morality of all of their students than they should not only ban the GSA, but also ban any club dealing with someone’s religious beliefs or that can be constituted as offensive. Keep in mind that the school is not saying that their cannot be a GSA, they are just saying that they do not want it held on school grounds because of the controversy it has created. To be fair though, this should not only apply to them but to all other clubs dealing with religious beliefs. For example, I’m a Christian but I would agree in them banning a bible (if there were any) because I feel it is unfair to tell someone that they can’t do one thing because I find it offensive when they in return may find the “bible club” just as offensive.

As a side note, I do agree with the fact that the Mormons have no right to attempt to force the GSA out of their town because it threatens their beliefs in dominating that particular community. That I believe is unfair and constitutionally wrong.

Anonymous said...

When this country was first founded it was on the belief that we would be able to have the freedoms we never had with England. While some people may feel uncomfortable about having a gsa, they must come to realize this is something they have to tolerate. By making these students get parents permission to join and by excluding the children who want to learn more and be understood, your stopping and thus going against freedom of expression just as Edwin has stated. These students must be able to excersize their rights without being censored.
Michelle Asciote