This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2013, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.
Teachers on front lines • Utah's teen suicide rate is higher than the national average. The sad fact is that two youths every day on average in the Beehive State are treated for attempting to end their lives. Two every day. In 2011, 19 teens committed suicide and more than 300 received medical treatment after failed attempts. So a training program for teachers, counselors and principals to help them recognize and help troubled teens is more important than ever. A law passed last legislative session requires suicide prevention training as part of teacher recertification. Teachers are busy and often overworked overseeing the largest classes in the nation. But they also must be the first line of defense in any public effort to reduce the number of youths who take their own lives. Besides teaching history, English and math, educators must instruct students in the dangers of bullying and intolerance toward gay students.
Bridge building • Former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman got an up-close-and-personal look at extremism in his own party last year during his run for the Republican presidential nomination. A moderate conservative, Huntsman was criticized as being far too liberal to be the GOP nominee. He had a difficult time in debates trying to focus attention on issues rather than on ideology. In response to the inability of the far right and far left to compromise on important issues and conduct the basic business of government, Huntsman now is working to narrow the partisan divide. Huntsman and Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.V., are national co-chairmen of No Labels, a group formed to promote bipartisanship. It's an admirable effort to reduce the damage being done by congressional dysfunction, as Huntsman calls it. Given the stakes, all Americans should support it.
Unbanned book • It took a lawsuit, but the Davis School District has finally done the right thing. The district returned a book about a family with two lesbian parents to its library shelves after the American Civil Liberties Union and the ACLU of Utah filed suit on behalf of a parent. A group of parents in the district demanded that the book be put behind the library counter and that children be required to bring a permission slip from home before they could read it. That was backward, as the district eventually decided. Parents now can request that their children not be given access to the book. The inoffensive book can help children understand that not all families are the same, but that all deserve respect. How can that be a problem?