Students at Box Elder High School can officially organize an LGBT support group on campus—as soon as district officials approve a name.
Box Elder Superintendent Ron Wolff reviewed the student application on Wednesday. He said it met all of the requirements outlined in state law. But the name Gay Straight Alliance is ruffling feathers.
“There are some issues in the community," Wolff says. "But as far as a lot of people coming to me taking issue, that has not happened.”
Wolff says Gay Straight Alliance might not be the name he chooses, when he revisits the issue sometime in January.
“That name hasn’t been eliminated from consideration," Wolff says. "But I’ve asked them to provide some other suggestions to, and apparently they have been in contact with folks that have dealt with this issue before and there are some other titles for the club that they may be proposing.”
Box Elder High School Senior Gloria Hammond submitted the proposal. She says if changing the name will allow the organization to convene sooner, rather than later, she’s willing to compromise.
“We have a really high suicide rate and I’ve known a lot of people personally that have struggled with depression and ostracized with their families, their communities and church groups. And it’s really hard on kids, and I think having a place for them to go and feel excepted, I think it’s a really important thing.”
According to the Utah Department of Health, Box Elder County has the highest rate of suicide in the state for kids ages 10 through 17.
In a statement, Jill Marcellus a spokesperson for the National Gay Straight Alliance Network says part of being able to succeed at school is the ability for students to be themselves and have their identities acknowledged and respected. Marcellus added the network supports all LGBTQ and ally student clubs working to make their schools safer -- including by supporting their right to define themselves as a GSA club.