Utah lawmaker running bill to keep sexuality, politics, religion from being taught in Utah classrooms

Jul 28, 2023, 4:03 PM | Updated: Aug 13, 2023, 7:55 pm

utah capitol special session...

KSL NewsRadio FILE - The Utah State Capitol Building as seen atop the Conference Center in Salt Lake City on August 11, 2021.

DRAPER, Utah — A version of a controversial bill over what can be discussed in Utah classrooms is coming back next legislative session. Rep. Jeff Stenquist, R – Draper, is running a bill to keep sexuality, politics and religion from being taught in Utah classrooms.

Stenquist told KSL NewsRadio it will be different than a bill he ran last year which prevented “discussion or instruction of sexual orientation or gender identity” before third grade — which had identical language to a controversial bill ran in Florida.

Florida’s bill was dubbed by critics as the, “Don’t Say Gay” bill, and was strongly supported, then signed into law, by Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis. At the time, Stenquist rejected the notion that he copied the bill.

Stenquist was one of the lawmakers who recently endorsed DeSantis for president when he came to Utah last week.

Stenquist yanked last year’s bill after Equality Utah stepped in.

Utah has waded into these waters before

Equality Utah Executive Director Troy Williams said he has been having continuing conversations with Stenquist and said legislation like this has been overturned in Utah before.

“In 2017 the state overturned a 20-year law prohibiting advocacy of homosexuality, with near unanimous votes. Our goal then was to ensure that every child should receive an education free from discrimination. We feel the same today.”

In 2017, Utah repealed a law — which Equality Utah dubbed the ‘No Promo Homo repeal’ — that got rid of possibly unconstitutional language banning the advocacy of homosexuality in public school health classes.

“The constitutional rights of every student regardless of their race, religion, sexual orientation or gender identity must be honored and protected…Any proposed legislation must meet that standard,” Williams said of Stenquist’s latest proposal.

What will the new bill do?

Stenquist said his new bill is not targeted at sexual orientation or gender identity, but rather any topic like religion, sexuality, or politics that he said “is inappropriate in a school setting and particularly at certain ages.”

Stenquist wrote on Twitter that he believes that discussions of sexuality “shouldn’t happen at all in elementary school with exceptions of current maturation programs where parents are notified and can choose to opt-out.”

 Stenquist said this new bill will focus on what he calls “advocacy” by teachers in classrooms.

“It’s not really so much focused so much curriculum but on other types of discussion,” he said. “…there are lots of subtle ways that ideologies or political viewpoints can be advocated for subtley without being directly added to the curriculum.”

Stenquist admitted he’s threading a fine needle to define what “advocacy” means.

“I’m not looking to be overly prescriptive on exactly what they can and cannot say,” he said. “But there does need to be some guardrails in place.”

There’s no text of the bill yet so it’s not clear what exactly it could prohibit in classrooms.

Stenquist said he’s working on it with input from Equality Utah, education and parent groups.

Reluctance to the proposal

Some educators worry this bill might send a message that feeds a common narrative by some far-right Republicans — that schools and teachers are promoting left-leaning political agendas and “indoctrinating” kids.

Utah State Board of Education member Sarah Reale, D – Salt Lake City, said this bill concept “sends the wrong message” to educators. She argued that a bill like this isn’t needed because the policies already exist at the board, district and school levels.

“It is Teaching 101 to avoid personal opinions in the classroom,” Reale said. “Every educator is taught that.”

Further, she said bills like this — and others recently passed — “are half-baked and are causing more work and confusion for our system.”

“Teachers and students must be able to discuss ‘politics’…to ban political discussion is to ban discussion of government – at least in the US,” Reale said. “Legislation like this…places undue burdens on our schools and uses big government regulation to threaten and show distrust in our talented educators.”


We want to hear from you.

Have a story idea or tip? Send it to the KSL NewsRadio team here.

Politics + Government

former president trump, hush money trial opening statement started monday...


Trump tried to ‘corrupt’ the 2016 election, prosecutor alleges as hush money trial gets underway

The opening statements in the hush money trial marked the first time that prosecutors have presented a criminal case against a former president to a jury.

9 hours ago

This composite image shows former President Donald Trump (center), Stormy Daniels (top left), Micha...

Kaanita Iyer, CNN

Here are the key players in Trump’s hush money trial

Originally Published: 15 APR 24 07:00 ET Updated: 21 APR 24 20:26 ET (CNN) — Opening statements in Donald Trump’s criminal New York hush money trial are set to begin Monday, more than a year after the former president was indicted in the case. The trial, which made its way swiftly through jury selection last week, is expected […]

24 hours ago

Former Arkansas governor and U.S. Sen. David Pryor, a Democrat who was one of the state's most belo...

ANDREW DeMILLO Associated Press

David Pryor, former governor and senator of Arkansas, dies at age 89

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — Former Arkansas governor and U.S. Sen. David Pryor, a Democrat who was one of the state’s most beloved political figures and remained active in public service in the state long after he left office, has died. He was 89. Pryor, who went undercover to investigate nursing homes while a congressman, […]

2 days ago

Pro-Palestinian activists demonstrate outside the Capitol in Washington....

Stephen Groves and Lisa Mascaro

The House passes billions in aid for Ukraine and Israel after months of struggle

A $26 billion package aiding Israel and providing humanitarian relief to citizens of Gaza passed through the House today.

2 days ago

A man carries a Free TikTok sign in front of the courthouse where the hush-money trial of Donald Tr...

Mary Clare Jalonick and Haleluya Hadero

The House votes for possible TikTok ban in the US, but don’t expect the app to go away anytime soon

The House has passed legislation that would ban TikTok in the United States, but that doesn't mean the app is going anywhere anytime soon.

2 days ago

The word "privacy" is nowhere in the U.S. Constitution. But with technology changing things by the ...

Amanda Dickson

Dickson: Should we have a consumer right to privacy?

A bipartisan proposal would define privacy as a consumer right and create new rules for data collection companies to follow.

2 days ago

Sponsored Articles

Young couple hugging while a realtor in a suit hands them keys in a new home...

Utah Association of Realtors

Buying a home this spring? Avoid these 5 costly pitfalls

By avoiding these pitfalls when buying a home this spring, you can ensure your investment will be long-lasting and secure.

a person dressed up as a nordic viking in a dragon boat resembling the bear lake monster...

Bear Lake Convention and Visitors Bureau

The Legend of the Bear Lake Monster

The Bear Lake monster has captivated people in the region for centuries, with tales that range from the believable to the bizarre.


Live Nation Concerts

All the artists coming to Utah First Credit Union Amphitheatre (formerly USANA Amp) this summer

Summer concerts are more than just entertainment; they’re a celebration of life, love, and connection.

Mother and cute toddler child in a little fancy wooden cottage, reading a book, drinking tea and en...

Visit Bear Lake

How to find the best winter lodging in Bear Lake, Utah

Winter lodging in Bear Lake can be more limited than in the summer, but with some careful planning you can easily book your next winter trip.

Happy family in winter clothing at the ski resort, winter time, watching at mountains in front of t...

Visit Bear Lake

Ski more for less: Affordable ski resorts near Bear Lake, Utah

Plan your perfect ski getaway in Bear Lake this winter, with pristine slopes, affordable tickets, and breathtaking scenery.

front of the Butch Cassidy museum with a man in a cowboy hat standing in the doorway...

Bear Lake Convention and Visitors Bureau

Looking Back: The History of Bear Lake

The history of Bear Lake is full of fascinating stories. At over 250,000 years old, the lake has seen generations of people visit its shores.

Utah lawmaker running bill to keep sexuality, politics, religion from being taught in Utah classrooms