Legislature reflects and respects Utah’s increasing diversity

Written by Stan Rasmussen

April 22, 2022

Traditional and social media narratives about the Utah Legislature sometimes convey the impression that the interaction among members is generally negative and fractious; an unproductive gripe fest. In fact – though the active dialogue represents the broad spectrum of citizens’ views on multiple issues – a high percentage of enacted legislation receives broad, bipartisan support.

Included among the many bills supported by senators and representatives on both sides of the aisle were several highlighted by Gov. Spencer Cox and Lt. Gov. Deidre Henderson at a ceremonial signing event this week.

On April 18, at the impressive Jewish Community Center near the campus of the University of Utah, Cox and Henderson commended the sponsors and supporters of bills addressing diversity and inclusion in the state.

Among the efforts commended were bills and resolutions

  • condemning antisemitism,
  • improving health care support for Utah’s racial and ethnic communities,
  • establishing a Day of Remembrance observing the incarceration of Japanese Americans during World War II,
  • encouraging support for internationally adopted individuals,
  • recognizing Juneteenth as an official Utah state holiday,
  • honoring the life and achievements of Helen Foster Snow, and
  • making driver license exams available in multiple languages.

Also acknowledged was HCR 16 – Recognizing Student Athletes’ Right to Religious Freedom and Modesty. Sponsored by Rep. Candice Pierucci and Sen. Kirk Cullimore, this measure was actively supported by Sutherland Institute, the Utah Muslim Civic League, the Catholic Diocese of Salt Lake City, the Utah Education Association, and other organizations.

The resolution “encourages all municipalities, public and private K-12 schools, universities, and organizations supporting youth athletic teams and activities to allow youth to wear religious clothing or headwear or to modify their uniforms to accommodate religious beliefs or personal values of modesty without barriers or limitations.”

As emphasized in Sutherland Institute’s statement of support,

HCR 16 makes a compelling case for both the value of sports to student athletes and the need to properly accommodate modesty concerns in policies about uniforms. Without micromanaging these policies, the resolution provides helpful guidelines for Utah schools to follow and establishes an important aspiration for inclusive athletic opportunities.

Not only did these bills and resolutions receive bipartisan support, nearly all were passed unanimously. These results give cause to acknowledge that the increasingly diverse communities that are Utah are gratefully being affirmed by the citizens’ elected representatives in the Utah Legislature.

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