Utah School District Bans Book About Same-Sex Parents; Michigan’s Voter Suppression Spree
Salt Lake City Suburb Schools Restrict Access to Book for Being “Pro-Gay.”The Davis County School District, near Salt Lake City, Utah – has faced immense criticism over a decision to restrict access to a book, “Our Mothers’ House,” which was written by a lesbian couple. In response to the district’s decision, local chapters of LGBT and other gay rights activists plan to attend the board’s next meeting to argue against the decision, which restricts access to the book to those who have parental support in order to read the novel. “When I first heard about the action, I was very hurt by it. A lot of the words that were thrown around were ‘inappropriate; it’s inappropriate to show this stuff to children,’” said Davis County teacher Weston Clark. “What exactly do you find ‘inappropriate’ about my family? We’re great citizens, we pay our taxes, we go to work, we keep up our yard.” To add insult to injury, the district has stated that the LGBT advocacy group and their allies will not be allowed to speak during the meeting, as they are not on the agenda. “To have a real conversation, a school board meeting might not be the setting either group would find workable,” said Davis County District spokesman Chris Williams. Clark, however, countered that his aim is to help make the district a more inclusive place for everyone, and that the conversation on equality requires the attention of the school board members. “We want a discussion with the people of the district. We’re your neighbors, we’re here and we’re not inappropriate,” Clark said of LGBT families. “I don’t want my nieces and nephews or my son going through any district in the state thinking his family is inappropriate.” [The Salt Lake Tribune]
University of Nebraska-Lincoln Professor Returns Home After Arrest in China. A professor at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln returned to the United States yesterday, after being detained in a Chinese prison. Weixing Li, who has served as an assistant professor at the school’s College of Business Administration, was helping to escort 18 students from the Nebraska school to internship programs, when he mysteriously stopped returning calls and emails last week. According to students, Li was last seen in early June, after the summer program had concluded. The school has said that they learned of Li’s release from prison last night, and that he was indeed safe. “We learned late on June 19 that Professor Weixing Li has called his family to say he will be returning to the U.S. as soon as flight arrangements can be made,” said the school’s Academic Affairs officer David Wilson. “We are glad he’s safe.” Li, who is a Chinese citizen, has helped lead the school’s study abroad program for the last four years, university spokeswoman Kelly Bartling said. Li’s work focuses on efforts to help persuade the Chinese government to adopt a market-based economy, and drop the state-sponsored method in use currently by the Communist regime, though it is unknown whether this had to do with his arrest in his home country. Bartling, though, said Li is a “Well thought-of, highly regarded faculty member.” [Inside Higher Ed]
Michigan Set to Sign Three Suppression Laws in Place. Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder (R-Mich.) is set to sign three bills in place that could drastically impact how state voters register this fall, and for elections to come. The three bills – SB 754, 751 and 803 – aim at boosting the Voter ID requirements for state voters, as well as acting proactively to remove voters from state rolls if they believe said person has moved for their residence. The third bill under proposal by the state would add an extra box on ballots that would require voters to acknowledge citizenship, which leaves non-English speaking citizens and other minorities at risk. Civil rights groups have shown up to protest the implementation of SB 754, which they say will cause confusion for voters and supervisors at the polls this fall. “[SB 754] is especially problematic for organizations operating registration drives,” said one opponent of the legislation. Others are comparing the trifecta of voter suppression bills that have cropped up in Florida. Gov. Rick Scott (R-Florida) passed similarly convoluted bills that have been challenged by the Department of Justice and other groups. [The Nation]
Christopher Boan is a journalism intern with Campus Progress.