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OPINION: Utah against diversity

Entrance+of+the+LGBT%2FWomens+Center.+
Cooper Hatsis/The Signpost Archives
Entrance of the LGBT/Women’s Center.

As of July 8, it has officially been one week since Weber State University was forced to close its doors on its cultural centers. This comes after the Utah State Legislature passed House Bill 261, which prohibits “an institution of higher education, the public education system and a governmental employer from taking certain actions and engaging in discriminatory practices.”

Though the university is not at fault for the forced closings of these cultural centers, the change in diversity, equity and inclusion practices opens up a much larger conversation about the public’s understanding of DEI and the importance of celebrating one’s identity.

The bill claimed to prohibit discriminatory practices, but the loss of these identity-based centers is detrimental to WSU’s community well-being. Through this bill, we have lost access to domestic violence resources, LGBTQ resources, sex education resources, diversity education resources and overall campus safe spaces for these marginalized communities and identity groups.

In a state where 1 in 3 women will experience sexual violence, physical violence and/or stalking by an intimate partner in her lifetime, according to the Utah Women and Leadership project; 50% of Utah LGBTQ youth will experience suicidal thoughts, according to The Trevor Project; and in which there were 41 incidents of hate crimes based on race/ethnicity/ancestry in 2022, according to the U.S. Department of Justice, Utah needs to do better.

Rather than promoting and celebrating the diversity of its population, Utah has decided to close doors and drown out the voices of those who will feel the impacts of its legislation. WSU’s President Brad Mortensen has been actively speaking out against this legislation and for the students that have lost access to valuable resources because of the new legislation.

By diminishing the awareness and celebration surrounding differences, we are actively silencing the voices of those who are within those communities and uplifting the voices of the ignorant who do not understand the importance of celebrating our differences.

As I close this piece, I want to encourage young people to vote. Regardless of your party, affiliations or personal beliefs, the best way to have your voice heard in this system is to vote. Vote in your local elections, your state elections, national elections and everything in between. Sign petitions, call your local lawmakers and give them a new perspective.

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Brisa Odenthal
Brisa Odenthal, Editor-in-Chief

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