UPDATE: The bill has passed and was signed by the speaker of the House and the Senate president. It now goes to Utah Gov. Gary Herbert for his signature or veto.
Senate Bill 196, which repeals language in a Utah law that prohibits the discussion of homosexuality, passed the Utah House Tuesday nearly unanimously. Because of a minor amendment, the bill goes back to the Senate for final passage. Only Rep. Eric Hutchings, R-Kearns, voted against the bill.
The bill’s intent is to address a lawsuit brought on the state by Equality Utah and the National Center for Lesbian Rights that sought to remove all language in Utah code that forbids discussion of homosexuality in Utah schools. Several states have what have been dubbed “No Promo Homo” laws.
Sen. Stuart Adams, R-Davis, sponsor of the bill, calls it a proactive and pre-emptive approach that protects current programs in public schools. He worked with the attorney general’s office to deflect the lawsuit.
“I think it is the legislature’s job to handle such changes, not the courts’,” Adams said.
He hopes to avoid the lawsuit and potentially losing Utah’s “carefully crafted abstinence curriculum.”
Adams also said he sponsored the bill because he also believes opening the discussion will allow teachers to teach to all children.
Under Utah law, any advocacy of premarital or extramarital sex or contraceptive methods is forbidden.
The Utah Legislative Session ends Thursday.