The Utah Pride Center is located just a block north of West High School, where I went to school. I went to high school after another local school, East High School, had attempted to form a Gay Straight Alliance (GSA). The school refused to allow it and to avoid a violation of the federal Equal Access Act, the district decided to ban all non-curricular student groups.
Fortunately, even without a GSA, we had the Utah Pride Center right down the street. Having the cafe (Cafe Marmalade), the support groups, and the entire compassionate and supportive environment - my friends and I could escape the discriminatory high school environment to go socialize in a place where we could feel safe being ourselves.
The following press statement was just released:
Salt Lake City, UT: This morning, August 20, 2010, staff of the Utah Pride Center and Café Marmalade discovered that the marquee in front of the building had been vandalized during the night with the word "FAGS". Staff made a report to the Salt Lake City Police Department who dispatched the Crime Scene Unit and are investigating the crime.
The Utah Pride Center works diligently to create a safe environment for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer people in Utah, and will not stand for instances of hate.
"We realize that often times the purpose of these actions are to cause widespread fear among the members of our community," said Valerie Larabee, Executive Director.
"That is why today we are speaking out. This will not be swept under the rug. We will not be scared into silence by acts of intolerance."
The Utah Pride Center board and staff acknowledge that in any social justice movement, the more progress that is made, the more resistance the targeted community will face. "We welcome civil, respectful dialogues with those who disagree with our mission, but this kind of hate language and vandalism will not be tolerated," said Larabee.
The Utah Pride Center appreciates the work of the Salt Lake City Police Department and the LGBT Public Safety Liaison Committee.