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Arizona passes chilling bill that would let parents stop kids from learning about queer people

Maggie Baska April 15, 2021
Nancy Barto, a woman wearing a red suit with short brown hair

Arizona senator Nancy Barto sponsored the bill. (Facebook)

Arizona Republicans have passed an anti-LGBT+ bill that would allow parents to stop their kids from learning about queer people.

SB 1456 would require the “school governing board to develop procedures by which parents will be notified in advance, and given the opportunity to opt their children into, any instruction regarding sexuality, gender identity or gender expression”. The bill would also prohibit schools from providing sex-ed classes which include information about AIDS and HIV without parent’s permission.

The new legislation comes just two years after Arizona state lawmakers overturned a different law that prevented LGBT+ students from receiving medically accurate information in classes at school. The law, which had been on the books since 1991, banned any instruction that “promotes a homosexual lifestyle”, “portrays homosexuality as a positive alternative lifestyle” and “suggests that some methods of sex are safe methods of homosexual sex”.

But it looks like sadly the new LGBT+ will be passed into law. SB 1456 passed through the state’s Republican-controlled House in a 31-28 party-line vote on Wednesday (14 April), according to Tuscon.com. It already passed through the Arizona Senate in March and now goes to Republican governor Doug Ducey to be signed into law.

Cathi Herrod, the president of the Center for Arizona Policy – the group backing the anti-LGBT+ bill, said it is about ensuring parents have control over what their children are taught. Harrod told AP: “The purpose of [SB 1456] is to look out for parental rights, to ensure that parents have access to learning materials, that parents have the opportunity to opt their child into classes dealing with human sexuality.”

She argued the bill won’t “stop [LGBT+ issues] from being addressed” but will give parents the “opportunity to make that decision to opt their students in to classroom discussion”.

However, the bill has received fierce opposition from Democrats who argued the bill is harmful to LGBT+ students. The Arizona Democratic Party tweeted that the “extreme anti-LGBTQ bill” will “put young people in danger and effectively put a gag order on educators from teaching ANYTHING related to the LGBTQ community”. The party also called on governor Ducey to veto the bill.

Kathy Hoffman, Arizona superintendent of public instruction, released a statement on Twitter condemning the bill. She wrote Arizona has taken a “giant step backward” in LGBT+ equality by passing SB 1456.

“This legislation is nothing short of state-codified bigotry and does not reflect where most Arizonans stand on these issues,” Hoffman said. “This legislation will one again silence and erase LGBTQ individuals and their history in our schools – and it will harm students and families.”

Richie Taylor, the communications director for the Arizona department of education and Hoffman, shared the devastating impact the new bill would have on LGBT+ young people in the state. He said: “Growing up gay in rural Arizona was hard.

“It would have been life changing for me to have access to information and resources that could have helped me make sense of it all.

“[SB 1456] takes us backward and it will harm LGBTQ students.”

 

More: Arizona, Republicans

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