New bill would repeal "no promo homo" law

By: Glen Mills 

Posted: Feb 14, 2017 02:54 PM MST

Updated: Feb 14, 2017 07:23 PM MST

Salt Lake City, Utah- (ABC4 Utah) – Changes could be coming to sex education in Utah. A bill that would reverse a controversial portion of the law has been introduced on Capitol Hill.

Current law prohibits the advocacy of homosexuality at school, it's commonly referred to as the "no promo homo" law. A republican state senator says it needs to go and he's leading the charge.

State Senator Stuart Adams is sponsoring Senate Bill 196, Health Education Amendments. It would repeal language prohibiting the advocacy of homosexuality in health instruction.

"What we want to do is take out any kind of discriminatory language, and I think we all understand that is something that would be problematic. We want to make sure that all kids are treated equally," said Adams, (R) Layton.

Adams says the bill is in response to a lawsuit filed by Equality Utah.

He says taking a legislative approach will preserve the core values of teaching abstinence before marriage and fidelity after.

"Sexually active teenagers are more susceptible to depression, and maybe suicide and sexually transmitted diseases. We need to make sure these polices apply to everyone," said Adams.

Democratic Senator Jim Dabakis applauds the bill. He says the mandatory silence has devastating consequences.

"Probably the hardest thing in my life has been, five times to go to funerals of Utah children, one of them just 12 years old," said Dabakis, (D) Salt Lake City.

Dabakis says this simple change could be the most significant bill in this years legislative session.

"The ability of a school counselor, or a teacher to be able to refer young LGBT people on to get help, and counseling, and support and the advice they need is really an important moment in our state history," said Dabakis.

The conservative group, Utah Eagle Forum is also keeping an eye on the bill. Gayle Ruzicka, President of the group says she doesn't have a problem with changing the language, as long as it treats all students equally and sticks to the present philosophy.

"It doesn't make any difference in terms of what kind of a partner they prefer, they shouldn't be having sex at this age. They need to wait until marriage, because that's what our sex education laws teach," said Ruzicka.

Senator Adams was also instrumental in the landmark Religious Freedom/ Nondiscrimination compromise from two years ago. Equality Utah tells ABC4 Utah this bill is a welcome surprise.

The bill is expected to have its first committee hearing later this week or the first of next week.

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