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Utah students fight anti-gay discrimination

By Emily Lacock |
March 22, 2012
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Salt Lake City, UT - On March 9, six students from five clubs met with the Utah Valley University President Matthew Holland. The students were demanding the inclusion of sexual orientation and gender identity and expression in the school anti-discrimination policy. Students also want policy changes in hiring and education opportunity.

These reforms come in response to a vicious campaign against a gay student at Utah Valley University (UVU). During the most recent student election, an anonymous person emailed every club officer demanding they not vote for a student presidential candidate because he is gay. This caused outrage amongst students on campus who believe in equality and fairness. The mobilization in response was both quick and effective.

The Coalition Against Discrimination is composed of the Revolutionary Students Union (RSU), Spectrum Club - LGBTQI/Straight Alliance, Philosophy Club, Peace & Justice Club and SHAAFT (Secular Humanism, Agnosticism and Free Thought). The Coalition presented President Holland with a statement prepared by members of the coalition and concerned UVU faculty and staff which expressed three demands: the inclusion of “gender identity/expression” and “sexual orientation” as protected classes in policy; the retention of “sexual orientation” in “Non-Faculty” hiring policy and the immediate recommendation and implementation of aforementioned policy change.

The coalition prepared a statement that insisted, “Protection against discrimination should not be open to interpretation, rather it must be stated explicitly.”

President Holland scheduled another meeting with the Coalition but refused to commit to any further action. After the meeting, a rally was held with more than 20 students and faculty members holding balloons and donning different slogans such as “Join us in the 21st century” and “Equality in policy.” A member of each club addressed the crowd before chanting and marching through the Administration Building.

“We are making demands and will hold the president accountable,” said Steven Broadbent, Vice President of the RSU.

The Coalition will keep pressure on the president to accept equality for the LGBTQ students, faculty and staff. Students are planning another rally before the next negotiation meeting. They are demanding equality both through on campus representation and equal protection on the campus.