Box Elder Schools Move Closer to Permitting Gay-Straight Alliance

Nov 14, 2013

 The Box Elder School Board voted 5 to 1 Wednesday night to allow non-curriculum-related student clubs. That’s good news for a group seeking approval for a Gay-Straight Alliance at Box Elder High School. But the group has one last hurdle to cross.

Box Elder Superintendent Ron Wolff says all prospective student groups are required to file an application with the school principal that includes the recommended club name and a statement of the club’s purpose, goals and activities. Non-curricular clubs, like Gay-Straight Alliance are generally formed by students and held on school grounds, but are not associated with academics.

Wolff says he will make the final determination once the principal approves the group’s application

“There are going to be some negotiations and making sure the purpose is something that meets state law and that the name reflects the purpose but I think that’s very manageable," Wolff says.

State law directs school districts to prohibit student groups that engage in counseling, therapy or mental services, promote bigotry or delinquent behavior or that involve human sexuality.

According to Ogden Outreach Resource Center, Box Elder County has the highest youth suicide rate in Utah. That’s partially why Box Elder High School Senior Gloria Hammond sought permission to form the Gay Straight Alliance. She says it’s a place where young people go to feel a sense of belonging.

“And that comes from any extracurricular club but a GSA is specifically designed to help people that might feel ostracized because of their sexuality or they don’t and just want to be allies," Hammond.

Superintendent Wolff says if either he or the principal deny the application for some reason, the club can appeal to the Box Elder School Board.