Family-Values Group Protests Articles in Utah H.S. Paper

A family-values organization claims articles dealing withsex that were published in the school newspaper at Highland's Lone Peak High School violated state law.

One of the articles ran alongside an opposing article written by the daughter of Stephen Graham, president of the Standard of Liberty Foundation.

Graham has asked the state Office of Education and the attorney general to look into three articles in The Lone Peak Crusader.

On Nov. 17, an opinion piece by Sarah Brimhall advocated formation of a Gay Straight Alliance at the school. It appeared alongside an opposing view written by Graham's daughter, Elise.

On May 15, a news article and an opinion piece, both written by Brimhall, addressed a vaccination for human papilloma virus, which can be spread by sexual contact. In the opinion piece, Brimhall wrote that teaching abstinence is not enough to prevent the spread of HPV.

"The promotion of abstinence is placed above the prevention of a disease that claims thousands of lives each year," she wrote.

The foundation contends the articles violated a Utah law prohibiting schools from allowing any activity that results in students revealing information concerning their sexual behavior, orientation or attitudes and a law that requires schools stress abstinence and not advocate homosexuality or sexual activity outside of marriage.

"Sex activists are targeting kids," Graham said. "They know that high school newspapers can be highly effective carriers of anti-parent, pro-sex propaganda. School administrators are either complicit or clueless."

Principal Chip Koop said, "We've had the Alpine School District advise us on where lines are and what we need to be careful about, so we try to do our best to do that, and at the same time allow students some freedom to investigate topics that are important to them."

James Fisher, assistant professor lecturer in the department of communication at the University of Utah, said far more egregious content would be needed to break any laws. "That is not a promotion of premarital sex," he said.

Linda Peterson, president of the Utah Headliners chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists, said, "While high school students are just students, they are covered by the First Amendment. Wherever possible by the law, adults in the greater community should uphold their right to express their opinion."

Carol Lear, director of school law and legislation at the state Office of Education, said she does not plan to investigate the articles.

"To say if there was an article in a school newspaper about how many girls had been raped and to say that's promoting sexual activity, that's not accurate," Lear said. "It's just providing information. It doesn't promote it."