Arizona sued over law banning ‘promotion of homosexual lifestyles’ in schools
LGBT+ rights groups are suing Arizona over a law that bans the “promotion” of homosexuality in schools.
Arizona is one of seven US states that continue to hold “No Promo Homo” laws, with the state’s law prohibiting any lessons that “promote a homosexual life-style,” depict homosexuality “as a positive alternative life-style,” or teach about “safe methods of homosexual sex.”
A lawsuit was filed in US District Court on Thursday (March 28) by LGBT+ campaigners from Equality Arizona, the National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR) and Lambda Legal.
Arizona ‘No Promo Homo’ law discriminates against LGBT+ students, lawyers argue
The legal challenge describes the law as “facially discriminatory and harmful,” and contends that it “bars students from receiving medically accurate, age-appropriate information.”
It contends that the law “violates the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution by singling out a class of students (…) for negative treatment based on their sexual orientation, without imposing any comparable restriction on instruction about heterosexual people.”
NCLR’s senior staff attorney Julie Wilensky said: “In 2019, it is shocking to see Arizona enforcing a law that openly disparages a group of students and requires them to be treated differently from all other students.
“It is time for this harmful law to be eliminated from Arizona’s schools so all children can feel safe and valued.”
Lambda Legal staff attorney Puneet Cheema added: “Arizona is stigmatizing and demeaning LGBTQ students and preventing them from getting medically-accurate information that literally could save their lives.
“They are breeding a school environment that is hostile to LGBTQ students and their relationships, and exposing LGBTQ students to harassment and abuse in classrooms, hallways, and locker rooms.”
The LGBT+ rights groups note that repeated legislative efforts to repeal the law have failed.
Teenage Arizona lawsuit plaintiff: I just want to feel safe at school
One of the plaintiffs, a high school student identified as AA, said in a press release: “I just want to feel safe at school like every other student, but this law makes me feel like an outsider just because I’m gay.
“I’ve been bullied because of my sexual orientation, and this law just encourages more of the same by labelling who I am as something to be ashamed of.”
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Michael Soto, the executive director of Equality Arizona, said: “We know that Arizona schools are not safe spaces for LGBTQ students.
“Recent surveys of LGBTQ students reveal that almost 80 percent regularly heard homophobic remarks, 71 percent experienced verbal harassment, and 12 percent were physically assaulted.
“A state law that explicitly demeans and dismisses LGBTQ students and their relationships cannot help but encourage that abuse and discrimination.
“The toxic school environment created by this law also contributes to higher rates of depression and suicidal thoughts among LGBTQ students.”
The other six states with “No Promo Homo” laws are Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi, Oklahoma, South Carolina and Texas.