Law against discussion of homosexuality in schools repealed

UTAH – Among the many bills signed by Gov. Gary Herbert Monday was the repeal of a law prohibiting discussion in public schools that could be seen as promoting homosexuality.

As of Tuesday, the governor has signed 234 of of the 535 passed during the 2017 legislative session that concluded earlier this month.

2017’s Senate Bill 196, Health Education Amendments, repeals what LGBTQ advocates called the “No Promo Homo” law. It particularly outlawed discussion of homosexuality as a part of health education.

Revelers at the St. George gay pride event participate in a conga line parade at Vernon Worthen Park, St. George, Utah, June 25, 2016 | Photo by Mori Kessler, St. George News

“This is a great day for LGBTQ students in Utah. We applaud Governor Herbert for his signature,” Troy Williams, director of Equality Utah, said in a text to Fox 13 News Monday.

While the anti-homosexuality part of the law has been repealed, it maintains that teachers are prohibited from “instruction that advocates premarital or extramarital sexual activity.”

Utah was sued by Equality Utah and the National Center for Lesbian Rights, along with three Utah students, over the “No Promo Homo” law last year. The lawsuit was put on hold as the bill repealing the law worked its way through the Legislature and passed.

With the governor’s signature finalizing the repeal, parties involved appear to be moving toward a resolution of the lawsuit.

House Bill 196 is one of 234 bills signed by Herbert since last week. Overall, the Legislature passed 535 bills, the remainder of which the governor needs to sign, veto, or simply allow to go into law without his signature, by March 29.

Other notable bills that have been signed thus far include:

Public lands

2017’s House Concurrent Resolution 1 calls on Congress to give Utah more control over federal lands and would use a lawsuit over the matter as a last resort. It also calls on Utah’s congressional delegation and state leadership to work with the new Trump administration on this issue. Read more here.

The Downtown Farmers Market in Ancestor Square, St. George, Utah, May 10, 2014 | Photo by Samantha Tommer, St. George News

Cottage foods

Direct Food Sales Amendments, designated as House Bill 58 and sponsored by state Rep. Scott Sandall, R-Tremonton, modifies the requirements for a cottage food production operation. Small home kitchens making cakes, cookies, jams and jellies, among other select goods, will be allowed to sell food directly to consumers without going through expensive state licensing and inspections.

Such operations will still be required to hold a valid food handlers permit, register with the state as a cottage food operation and label products indicating their unregulated status. Read more here.

Food Trucks

A bill de-regulating food trucks will allow food trucks to do business in multiple counties and municipalities by making permits, fees and licensing obtained in one jurisdiction honored in another. This will save on food truck operators having to obtain multiple permits and licenses between various towns and counties.

Inheriting “digital assets”

This new law specifies who can access your digital assets, such as social media accounts, after you’ve tweeted your last and have been put to rest. An heir to these accounts can be named and they will also be treated as physical property by the court. The bill was sponsored by Rep. V. Lowry Snow, R-St. George.

Stock image | St. George News

Statewide crisis hotline

This bill enacts provisions related to the creation of a single statewide crisis line that will allow individuals to contact and interact with a qualified mental or behavioral health professional 24 hours per day, 365 days per year. Read more here.

School policies on bullying and hazing 

Signed with the latest batch of bills Tuesday, the new law requires school districts to have anti-bullying and hazing policies in place and accompanying training related to those policies.

School boards are to update the school board’s policy regarding bullying, cyber-bullying, hazing, and retaliation by Sept. 1, 2018, according to the bill. An annual acknowledgment of the school’s policies regarding this matter is also to be signed by school employees, students and parents.

Harassing livestock with drones and other things, that’s a no-no

A bill sponsored by Rep. Scott Chew, R-Jensen, and so-sponsored by Sen. Don Ispon, R-St. George, makes it illegal for a person to harass livestock through the use of vehicles, ATVs, a dog or a drone. A person can be charged with either a class B or class A misdemeanor depending upon the severity of the harassment and whether it harms or kills the animal or animals involved or causes them to become displaced on property where livestock are not legally allowed. A fine of up to $1,000 may also be involved.

A list of the bills signed by the governor can be found here.

Read more about bills that passed the 2017 legislative session:

Read more: See all St. George News reports on Utah Legislature 2017 issues

St. George News reporters Kimberly Scott, Joseph Witham and Tracie Sullivan contributed to this article.

Email: mkessler@stgnews.com

Twitter: @MoriKessler

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