EDUCATION + SCHOOLS

Utah parents, students rally over rollout of new controversial bathroom law

May 3, 2024, 3:24 PM

On Friday morning, parents and young students gathered near Emerson Elementary School to rally over...

On Friday morning, parents and young students gathered near Emerson Elementary School to rally over the Salt Lake City School District's implementation of the new Utah bathroom law. (Adam Small, KSL NewsRadio)

(Adam Small, KSL NewsRadio)

SALT LAKE CITY — Dozens of Utah parents and young students attended a rally near Emerson Elementary School on Friday. It was in response to the Salt Lake City School District’s implementation of the state’s new controversial bathroom law.

Background

The law passed in the 2024 General Legislative Session and it requires people to use the bathroom that aligns with the gender listed on their birth certificate in publicly-funded buildings.

The Salt Lake City School District initially planned to present slideshows to all K-12 students but rolled back the idea after getting pushback from parents.

The district later planned to speak with individual students who might be affected by the new law in a one-on-one setting.

However, in a recent district newsletter, the district said it was moving forward with its plan to show all students a slideshow explaining how the new law affects them. The district set up a slideshow for K-5th grade students and another for 6-12th grade students.

“After additional conversations with education leaders and state legislators, we are moving forward in complying with the law. Including the requirement that districts ‘give notice to students’,” the district’s newsletter reads. “It is important to share this information with all students. Especially because we cannot presume to know every student who will be affected.”

District spokesperson Yandary Chatwin previously told KSL NewsRadio that neither an email nor a flyer would have been sufficient.

“We wanted to make sure there was consistency in the messaging,” Chatwin said. “That one teacher didn’t deliver a message one way and at a different school, kids were hearing things a different way.”

The Utah rally over bathroom law

Students and parents stood outside Liberty Heights Fresh just around the corner from Emerson Elementary School. Many held and waved transgender pride flags with some holding signs that read, “Honk for Equality.”

One parent said they wanted to create a place where students felt welcome. The parent, Allison, asked KSL NewsRadio not to share her last name.

She said she’s disappointed by how the district chose to inform students, especially elementary-aged kids, about the new law.

“Tell me where there’s an instance of this having created an actual problem in the schools up until now,” she said. “Why are we focusing on details that are honestly irrelevant and disruptive?”

“I don’t know why [the district] thinks this is an issue,” Allison said. “If you talk to the kids, most of them [wonder] why is this even a thing, why is this even a problem?”

Allison said she believed there was no need to inform young students about this law in the first place. She said many of them don’t understand what’s being presented or why.

“[The district] created a problem out of nothing,” she said.

Parents walked the kids back to school after about 30 minutes of peacefully demonstrating.

The district’s newsletter also said, “We remain committed to making sure our schools remain safe, welcoming places for all our students, families, and staff. We will continue to work with impacted students and their families to create privacy plans for individual students in accordance with the law.”

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Utah parents, students rally over rollout of new controversial bathroom law