SALT LAKE CITY — A federal judge on Monday granted a stay in proceedings through May 15 in Equality Utah's constitutional challenge of state education policies that it says prohibit positive speech about gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people.
U.S. District Judge Dee Benson granted the stay in response to a motion filed jointly by attorneys for Equality Utah and the Utah State Board of Education.
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.
The Utah Legislature, in its general session earlier this year, overwhelmingly passed 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.
Benson's order says if the parties are unable to resolve the claims, they have until May 30 to proposed a scheduling order.
"By requesting this stay and agreeing to its terms, neither party has waived any of its claims or defenses previously asserted in this lawsuit," the order states.