Gay-Straight Alliance to bring Dabakis to PCHS
April 1, 2014
At Utah Gov. Gary R. Herbert’s visit and presentation on Monday at the Park City High School lecture hall, several students, teachers and administrators wore a multi-colored piece of fabric wrapped around their arms. The Gay-Straight Alliance (GSA) at the high school asked fellow students and faculty to wear the armbands in support of marriage equality. That activism is one of the many reasons why the group is one of five finalists for the National GSA of the Year award.
Cozy Huggins, a PCHS senior and president of the GSA, said she nominated her club for the award because she was so proud of the money they raised during the Sundance Film Festival. They then donated $1,000 of the money they raised to Restore Our Humanity, the nonprofit organization that is funding litigation against Utah’s Amendment 3 ban on same-sex marriage.
"We had a teleconference today with the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network (GLSEN) about the work we have done throughout the year," Huggins said. "It was so cool, because it was happening at the same time the governor was here and we had students and our teachers wearing the armbands during the lecture."
Jamie Gribbin, vice president of the GSA, said the armbands were worn by students to let the governor know a new voting block is coming of age that will not tolerate inequality.
"I think he kind of has one foot in the past and the other in the present, so he needs to realize that there is a new generation that is all about equality," she said. "Hopefully he saw everyone wearing the armbands and it will open his eyes."
The students are continuing to "fight the good fight," as Huggins said, by inviting Sen. Jim Dabakis (D-Salt Lake City) to speak with students and community members about anti-discrimination legislation. S.B. 100, the Antidiscrimination Amendment bill, was sponsored by Sen. Stephen Urquhart (R-St. George) but did not pass in the Senate.
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According to the text of the bill, it would have modified the Utah Antidiscrimination Act and the Utah Fair Housing Act to address discrimination, including discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity.
"In Utah, you can get fired from your job for your sexual orientation, and you can be denied housing," Huggins said. "That’s just unacceptable in this modern age."
Jeremy Billow, the public relations and communications officer for the GSA, said the goal of the discussion with Dabakis is to educate not only students about LGBTQ issues but also their parents and other members of the community.
"It is for any adults who may have questions about what it means for their children going forward," he said. "If they have kids who may be concerned about what it means for them going into college or even going to or continuing high school, any school, Dabakis is there to answer their questions as well."
Billow added that Dabakis will also talk about the upcoming November elections and which candidates are supporting antidiscrimination measures. He will also talk about politics in general for students who are taking government classes.
"Mark Lawrence, the founder of Restore Our Humanity, said that most people who oppose equality do so because they are not educated about it or do not know someone in the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Questioning (LGBTQ) community," Gribbin said. "It helps to be educated about what is really going on and why it is not okay to discriminate against those who are LGBTQ."
The open discussion will be held at the Park City High School lecture hall on Tuesday, April 8, at 6 p.m. Huggins said there will be snacks and refreshments for those who attend.
They will also address the Day of Silence to be observed on Friday, April 11. Billow said they will be wearing their armbands in honor of those who have been silenced by bullying and harassment at school.
Meanwhile, the GSA will have to wait patiently to hear back from GLSEN about whether or not they have won the title of National GSA of the Year. Either way, they all hope to continue to support equality even after they graduate from high school.
Huggins will be attending Westminster College and still isn’t sure what she will study. Gribbin will attend Portland State University and hopes to go to law school upon graduation while Billow said he will most likely attend the University of San Francisco to major in International Studies with a minor in Gender and Sexuality Studies.
Colby Judd, the GSA’s Utah outreach and fundraising coordinator, wants to major in physics at the University of Utah, get involved with the LGBT network at the college and begin working with the Utah GSA network.
"Progress is made when you bring people to the table who just lay it all out there and ask different people to voice their views," Huggins said. "I think that’s the fulcrum in this fight for equality, bringing people from both sides of the table to hear both sides of the conversation. It’s a conversation that needs to be had."
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