The Utah Health Department's AIDS Advisory Committee wants the department to go on the record in favor of teaching about homosexuality as part of AIDS curriculum currently being developed by the state Office of Education.
The panel approved the recommendation with several others proposed in a report prepared by the Subcommittee on Gay and Lesbian Concerns during a Wednesday night meeting.Committee members said classroom discussions of acquired immune deficiency syndrome must include discussion about homosexuality. However, some members wondered if teaching about homosexuality would violate laws that preclude Utah teachers from talking about contraceptives without parental consent.
"While they can't talk about contraceptives, teachers can talk about homosexuality as long as they don't advocate it as a lifestyle," said Scott Hess of the education office and a committee member.
He said proposed AIDS curriculum treats homosexuality in a neutral way while explaining how high-risk behavior of homosexuals is linked to AIDS. The state Board of Education has yet to approve the plan.
The committee rejected a proposal for the health department to appoint or hire a homosexual man or woman as a liaison with Utah's homosexual community. To avoid possible discrimination charges with such a job qualification, the committee asked the position be filled with someone "knowledgeable and familiar with the gay community," said committee member Afesa Adams.
In other action, the committee:
-Recommended that the state's schools allow AIDS patients to attend classes. In addition, teachers and school personnel should be instructed about hemophilia and AIDS-related conditions among children.
-Asked the health department to support measures prohibiting insurance companies from discriminating against those who have tested positive for the AIDS virus and those who have the disease.
-Requested the health department to
provide funding for hemophiliacs, sexual partners and families who are regularly tested for the AIDS virus. Daily contact with blood products prompts the testing, said Lyn Ford, hemophiliac subcommittee chairwoman.
-Asked the state health department to create a high-risk insurance pool for hemophiliacs.
The committee will meet again at 6 p.m. June 8 in Room 125 of the Cannon Health Building, 288 N. 1460 West. A model policy that school districts could adopt to deal with students or employees who have AIDS will be discussed.