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Gay-Straight Alliance Clubs On Rise In Utah, Salt Lake City School Board Enacts Anti-Discrimination Policy

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The New York Times has reported that over 30 Gay-Straight Alliance school clubs have formed across the state of Utah in 2010.

This comes on the heels of a significant surge in anti-discrimination policy being enacted throughout the state.

Valerie Larabee, executive director of the Utah Pride Center, told the Salt Lake City Tribune that the rise of clubs is beneficial for the youth of Utah.

"These GSAs are wonderful, safe, open and affirming environments where young people can just be who they are. That's a rare space for some youth, particularly in a conservative, religious state."

The Utah Pride Center recruits and supports student organizers, training them to create and manage Gay-Straight Alliances.

In St. George, Utah, bisexual sophomore student Kate Hanson of Snow Canyon High School actively participates in her local GSA club. She told the New York Times that she was grateful for the encouragement they provide.

"[It] helps you realize that there are others like you and there are people who support you."

In 2010, 10 cities and counties enacted anti-discrimination legislation, which covers about one-fourth of the population of Utah.

In December, the Salt Lake City School Board followed suit. It became the first school board in the state to decree protection of students' sexual orientation and gender identity from harassment and intolerance.

Anti-discrimination laws may be on the rise at the community level, however attempts at statewide laws have not been successful.

Becky Lockhart (R-Provo), who is elected to be the first female speaker of the house in Utah's legislative history, was reported by the Salt Lake City Tribune as being unsupportive of anti-discrimination policy.

"We have been very resistant in the past to doing anything that might make sexual orientation a protected class. I don't think that has changed."