Rep. Tilton and Sen. Buttars, not gay clubs, are the danger to minors

By By Aaron Zundel

By Aaron Zundel

With one of the most educated populaces in the nation, one should be able to expect good state legislators in Utah. However, since this is reality, and lawmakers are sometimes chosen for traits other than intelligence, it stands to reason that we’d have a few legislators who aren’t so stellar.

This year, it seems, the Utah Legislature will not only vote on gun control and how they will spend the state’s $1.6 billion tax surplus, but they’ll also vote to enact state-sponsored bigotry.

In particular, I’m referring to the upcoming vote on House Bill 236. Sponsored by Rep. Aaron Tilton, R-Springville, and backed by Sen. Chris Buttars, R-West Jordan, the bill would, among other things, ban high school clubs that “involve human sexuality.” Despite all its wordy filler, the real intent behind HB 236 is to discriminate against high school chapters of the Gay Straight Alliance, as well as students of alternative sexualities in general.

Don’t believe me? Think that there must be some other, more logical reason behind the bill? Don’t listen to me, though. Listen to what Buttars himself spewed last year at a Senate Education Committee hearing: According to the Daily Herald, a Utah County newspaper, in the meeting Buttars asserted that the GSA clubs “indoctrinate” young minds, assault “the rock pillars of morality” (as though an old zealot from West Jordan is proxy authority on what is and is not morality) and are an all-around “danger to minors.”

Buttars–and other moral elitists like him–seem to be under the impression that allowing gay high school students to congregate in a safe, understanding atmosphere is tantamount to a state-sponsored orgy?and that’s just not the case.

For nearly everyone, the American high school experience is a brutal one. But for students of alternative sexualities, high school life can be hell–especially here in Utah. The GSA clubs are not Venus fly traps, luring students in with the sickly sweet smell of sexual nectar to trap them and devour their rotting moral carcasses. No, the GSA clubs are a social network that–in lieu of some better alternative–provide direction and understanding to kids who have been cast out of society by Sen. Buttars and people like him.

In the past, Sen. Buttars has stated that his political beliefs stem from his religious beliefs, and, to an extent, so do mine. In fact, it’s no secret that I don’t necessarily condone so-called “alternative” lifestyles, but there’s a difference between disagreement and oppression. In fact, the sort of action and intent embodied in HB 236 is suspiciously reminiscent of the behavior and rhetoric I see from people who are secretly uncomfortable and insecure with themselves.

I’m simply pointing out that the officials seem to be irrational and afraid of people who are different from they are, and that’s hardly a mindset I like to see in state lawmakers. By singling out certain groups of students and imposing restrictions on them, Rep. Tilton and Sen. Buttars do more to harm community relations than whatever harm could come from GSA clubs.

Though I’ll stop short from calling HB 236 homophobic, it is certainly unnecessary and bigoted. Here’s hoping that the rest of the Utah State Legislature sees it the same way.