News - April 1996

GLSTN applauds UT teachers and students, offers free resource

New York, NY -- The Gay, Lesbian, and Straight Teachers Network Feb. 28 commended Utah teacher Clayton Vetter, who became the first public school teacher in that state to acknowledge being gay in a press conference announcing the formation of a Gay, Lesbian, and Straight Teachers Alliance in Salt Lake City on February 27.

Vetter came out, and community members mobilized the group, in response to the 4-3 vote last week of the Salt Lake City Board of Education to ban student clubs rather than allow students to form a Gay-Straight Alliance at East High School.

"Clayton Vetter and his supporters have stood up for the values of truth and honesty," said Kevin Jennings, GLSTN's Executive Director. "Rather than allowing the 'big lie' that gays are a threat to our children to continue, he and other community members have spoken up on behalf of equality for all people."

Jennings, who in 1989 was the faculty advisor the nation's first-ever Gay-Straight Alliance at Concord Academy in Concord, Massachusetts, added, "Students in Utah have a right to go to schools where all people are respected, and where teachers and students are judged on their abilities and character rather than by the prejudices of any single element of the community.

The courage of student like Kelli Petersen [founder of the East H.S. Gay-Straight Alliance] and teachers like Clayton Vetter will triumph over the cowardice of so-called 'leaders' who are willing to scrap an entire extracurricular program rather than allow a few kids a place to meet."

Jennings went on to offer free copies of GLSTN's "Starting a Gay-Straight Alliance" publication to any student in the U.S. who wishes to found such an organization. "We won't let ourselves, or these kids, be silenced by legislative intimidation. If kids want to start a club to make their schools places where all people are respected, we'll do everything in our power to help them." E-mail GLSTNJohn@aol.com for a copy of the guide.

With over thirty chapters, and a membership of over three thousand teachers, parents, and concerned citizens, The Gay, Lesbian, and Straight Teachers Network (GLSTN) is the largest national organization working to insure that schools are places where all people are respected and valued, regardless of sexual orientation.

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