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AM Brief: More LDS support for LGBTQ rights, SLC closes pay gap & new law boosts per pupil spending

Photo of students holding signs and waving flags outside the church headquarters
Lee Hale
Support for LGBTQ rights has grown among members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints according to a new report from the Public Religion Research Institute

Friday, March 25, 2022

Northern Utah

Hundreds rally for trans youth at state capitol

Hundreds of people gathered at the Utah State Capitol Thursday evening to urge lawmakers to not overturn Gov. Spencer Cox’s veto on a bill that would ban transgender girls from participating in girls’ school sports. Many LGBTQ+ advocates praised Cox for his veto and condemned lawmakers who will hold a special session Friday to override the veto. Amanda Darrow with the Utah Pride Center said this bill sends a clear message to the transgender community. “It tells them that they don't belong in this space," Darrow said. She said this legislation could prevent children who are exploring their gender identity from coming out. Margo Plumb, a 12th grade transgender girl, said this type of legislation creates more fear and anguish for kids like her. Read the full story.Ivana Martinez

Salt Lake City closes employee pay gap

Salt Lake City officials announced Thursday the city has reached pay equity for nearly 1,000 employees. The move came after a 2020 audit found three pay discrepancies for non-union salaried workers. On average, men were making over $3 more per hour than women, and that gap increased for white employees compared to Black workers. The gender pay gap was even larger for airport employees. Salt Lake City Mayor Erin Mendenhall said in a statement the city is committed to making sure wages don’t vary based on age, gender or ethnicity. The city said the three pay gaps highlighted in the audit have since been remedied. — Ross Terrell


New law boosts weighted per pupil spending

Gov. Spencer Cox signed a law Thursday to boost weighted per pupil funding by 6% and earmark $3.5 million for scaling teen centers serving unsheltered students. It also secures $8 million in one-time spending for the K-12 computer science initiative, among other changes. The 78 bills Cox signed Thursday included HB 193, which expands optional full-day kindergarten, and HCR 16, which encourages schools and youth sports to permit athletes to modify uniforms based on religious beliefs. HB 374 bans pornographic materials from classrooms, which critics worry could force schools to remove books dealing with issues like sexual assault. — Leah Treidler

Growing Latter-day Saint support for LGBTQ rights

Support for LGBTQ rights among members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has risen significantly since 2015, according to a recent study from the Public Religion Research Institute. The Salt Lake Tribune reported overall support has jumped 12 percentage points since 2015 and now exceeds the national average. Attitudes have generally mirrored the stance of Church leaders — that is, growing support for nondiscrimination laws but reservations about same-sex marriage. — Tamarra Kemsley, The Salt Lake Tribune

This article is published through the Utah News Collaborative, a partnership of news organizations in Utah that aims to inform readers across the state.


BLM has been skipping environmental reviews for grazing permits

A new report from the nonprofit Western Watersheds Project showed the Bureau of Land Management has been skipping environmental reviews for grazing permits on millions of acres. Researchers tracked how often government employees completed mandatory analysis for grazing permit renewals. They said permits were renewed on more than half of available public lands in the West without any analysis last year. The group said the problem comes from a loophole designed to give the Bureau time to catch up on a multi-year backlog and a lack of funding. — Bert Johnson, Mountain West News Bureau

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