Snaps & Slaps

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SNAP: Salt Lake City School Board

Three cheers for SLC’s seven member board for adding gender identity and sexual orientation to its anti-discrimination and anti-harassment policies, especially in spite of a few members’ loudmouthed — and frankly rather bigoted — objections. As Utah’s gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and queer community well knows, bullying, sexual harassment and hazing against youth in our community was a widespread problem long before the mainstream (that is, straight) media began writing about it in earnest this fall. Making our schools safe for some of our most vulnerable students is long overdue. Hopefully, the school board’s compassion and courage will inspire others around the state to do the right thing — even if the State Legislature may well try to “punish” them.

SLAP: Art City Elementary School Administration

Speaking of Utah schools, let’s give a major slap to the administrators at one in the Neo School District, for freaking out about signs calling for an end to gay student suicides placed in a back yard near a Springville elementary school. Apparently, signs that mention the word “gay” (and maybe the word “suicide”) are too adult for kids 12 and under to read, but homophobic and transphobic bullying that drives some of these young students to consider and even attempt suicide is no big deal at all. The administration needs to not only rethink its priorities but open a few newspapers and realize that they can best protect their students from facing “adult” problems by keeping all of them safe from bullies.

SNAP: A Faaabulous New Year

This year has treated the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender community in Utah surprisingly well. Nine municipal governments have passed ordinances protecting us from housing and employment discrimination. Our Pride Festival was one of the largest in the event’s history (if not the largest). Our World AIDS Day and Transgender Awareness Month observances were huge compared to those seen in previous years. But we still have so much more work to do. As our new year’s resolution, let’s all promise to work towards making Utah a safer, more inclusive place for everyone in 2011 by pressing for a statewide nondiscrimination ordinance that protects all employees and tenants, and policies in our schools that stamp out anti-gay and anti-transgender bullying. We can do it!

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