AMERICAN FORK Plans have been cancelled to discuss same gender attraction as one of two "serious social problems" tonight at American Fork High School.
Kelly Smith, a member of the PTSA board, said the entire board hadn't agreed to include the discussion on same gender attraction, along with pornography at the meeting.
When Principal Carolyn Merrill saw the agenda today, she called the district to cancel, said Rhonda Bromley, spokeswoman for Alpine School District. The meeting was canceled after consulting with presidents of the district and state parent teacher organizations, Bromley said.
"The principal and the rest of the board were not aware of the full meeting which was planned tonight," said Bromley. "As a district, we don't take a stand one way or another. Every principal supports every student."
Standard of Liberty co-founder Stephen Graham, who had been set to give the presentation tonight sent out an e-mail to supporters blaming the cancellation on "someone from the homosexual activist group" convincing the district to do so. The e-mail encouraged people to call the district and urge that the forum be allowed to continue.
"The PTA does not have the same opinions as the administrators in the school district," the e-mail said. "And for them to cancel this meeting is an outrage."
PTSA President Belinda Jensen told the Deseret News Wednesday that the planned forum on "Protecting Our Youth from Serious Social Problems" was aimed at issues such as presenting sexually transmitted diseases.
Valerie Larabee, executive director of the Utah Pride Center, a gay and lesbian advocacy group, said if the concern is sexually transmitted diseases, the forum should focus on preventing unprotected sex, not on sexual orientation.
The focus, she said, can have harmful impacts on youths.
"When youth are questioning their sexual orientation ... and they are in an environment filled with misinformation and hate, that can be conducive to depression and suicidal thoughts," she said.
However, Jensen said the forum will focus on same-sex attraction "because it is more blatant in our society and it is becoming more popular among activist groups that are pushing issues like clubs in schools."
Jensen was referring to gay-straight alliances, student groups that often focus on service. Larabee said she's not aware of an effort to start such a club at American Fork High School.
Jensen turned down an offer Wednesday afternoon from Larabee to also participate in the panel, citing time limits for the hour-long panel.
"The speaker we have is going to be very positive," Jensen said. "We're trying to help kids avoid this problem (same-gender attraction) and also overcome it."
That reasoning is troubling to Larabee, who sees it as singling out students as abnormal.
"Within their ranks, they have youth who are identifying as gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender, and they deserve the same kind of support as any other youth in that school," Larabee said. "These conversations come from fear and people being uneducated about the issues."