SALT LAKE CITY — Attorneys for Equality Utah and the Utah State Board of Education have jointly asked for a stay in proceedings through May 15 in the organization's constitutional challenge of state education policies it says prohibits positive speech about lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people.
The joint request for the stay was made in a recent court filing following the Utah Legislature's passage of SB196, which eliminated a specific prohibition against advocacy of homosexuality in health instruction in Utah public schools. Gov. Gary Herbert signed the bill into law on March 20.
Plaintiffs' attorneys have said passage of the legislation is one means to resolve the legal challenge. The joint motion says the plaintiffs' attorneys "have proposed amendments to the administrative rules challenged in their complaint to resolve their remaining claims for injunctive relief."
Statutes are enacted through an administrative rule-making process, generally conducted at an agency level.
The Utah State Board of Education is scheduled to address the issue at its May 5 meeting, according to court documents. The matter also appears on the state board's Law and Licensing Committee agenda on April 21.
According to the joint motion, "the parties have agreed to voluntarily exchange documents necessary to better understand the validity of plaintiffs’ claims for monetary relief and defendants’ defenses thereto. A stay of this case until May 15, 2107, may enable the parties to resolve all claims without judicial intervention."
Equality Utah’s lawsuit against the State School Board and Jordan, Weber and Cache County school districts cites experiences of three unnamed Utah students in elementary, middle and high schools as examples of other LGBT youths' experiences in Utah public schools, according to the complaint.
Equality Utah, which filed the lawsuit on behalf of the plaintiffs in October, claims Utah school policies violate constitutional rights of free speech and equal protection, as well as Title IX protections.
Cliff Rosky, who serves on Equality Utah's advisory board, said the organization is "hopeful that we can work with the Utah State Board of Education and the attorney general's office to ensure the equal protection of all students in our state's public schools."
The office of the Utah State Board of Education did not immediately respond to a request for comment.