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The American Fork High School PTSA canceled a Thursday night meeting after the Utah Pride Center and some Utah County residents alleged a presentation on the meeting agenda would have stigmatized and vilified gays and lesbians.
The meeting was to have included one presentation on pornography and another on gays and lesbians by Stephen Graham of Standard of Liberty, "an LDS-oriented educational corporation which exists to raise awareness of sexual activist movements overrunning America's Christian-moral-cultural life," according to its Web site. Utah Pride Center spokeswoman Yana Walton said she learned about the public PTSA meeting Wednesday. Alarmed by what she described as anti-gay rhetoric on Standard of Liberty's Web site, Walton phoned PTSA President Belinda Jensen to request a chance to respond to Graham's presentation.
"Jensen said we wouldn't be able to speak due to the meeting's time constraints," Walton said. "We weren't asking that this group not have a chance to speak, only that we might have a chance to respond."
Graham, president of the Pleasant Grove-based Standard of Liberty, said Jensen invited him to speak as far back as November. He learned of the meeting's cancellation through an Alpine School District administrator. He said his organization doesn't hate gays and lesbians, but rather stands against "homosexuality as an activity and accepted mindset."
"This was going to be a groundbreaking opportunity to have family-oriented values honored," he said. "It's a big disappointment that it was canceled."
Alpine spokeswoman Rhonda Bromley said American Fork High School Principal Carolyn Merrill canceled the meeting after she learned gays and lesbians would be discussed along with pornography.
Bromley said Merrill did not know gays and lesbians would be discussed until Thursday morning. Merrill wasn't prepared to include it in the meeting without more information, and the state PTA and Alpine Region PTA President Lori Ehat supported her decision to cancel, Bromley said.
"American Fork High School isn't taking a position that's either pro-gay or anti-gay," she said.
Jensen did not immediately return calls Thursday.
Walton said rather than viewing gays and lesbians as a social problem, schools should view the marginalization of gays and lesbians as problematic because it can lead to depression, drug abuse and suicide.
"It's the job of school administrators and PTA members to create an affirming space for everyone," she said.