Arizona Considers Sex Education Bill Requiring Teachers to Instruct LGBTQ Students to be Abstinent

GLAAD today called on media to shine attention on SB 1082, a dangerous bill that was introduced by Arizona state senator Sylvia Allen and is scheduled to be heard by the Arizona Senate Education Committee on Tuesday, January 14, 2020. GLAAD is working to elevate ways to take action against the bill with Arizona-based organization ONE Community, a coalition of socially responsible businesses, organizations and individuals who are moving diversity, inclusion and equality forward for all Arizonans.

According to ONE Community, SB 1082 would:

  • Require teaching abstinence to LGBTQ and other students.
  • Prohibit age appropriate and medically accurate sex education before seventh grade, which goes against the recommendations of Republican Governor Doug Ducey’s task force to prevent sexual abuse.
  • Effectively freeze out sex education in both district and charter schools by threatening schools with lawsuits from individual parents and connecting health education with crimes against children.

SB 1082 was first introduced by state senator Allen earlier this year and was quickly amended to remove language that included “homosexuality” in a list of topics that would be banned from sexual education classes. The new version of SB 1082 is still attracting widespread concern across Arizona. The amended bill can be found here.

VIDEO: Arizona state representative Daniel Hernandez and state senator Tony Navarrete both spoke out against SB 1082 in a video released on Twitter. 

TAKE ACTION: The Arizona LGBTQ Legislative Caucus called on the public to email and call State Senator Sylvia Allen at sallen@azleg.gov or call 602-926-5409. The tweet can be found below: 

Local advocates are planning a press conference and public demonstration on Tuesday at the Arizona Capitol while the Senate Education Committee hears the bill. More info here.

LOCAL OPPOSITION RISING:

Arizona’s Superintendent of Public Instruction Kathy Hoffman spoke out against SB 1082, telling Fox 10 Phoenix, that “it could take us backward as a state.” She added: “Parents should always have a choice in what their child learns, but students deserve medically accurate, age-appropriate information to keep themselves safe and healthy."

“SB 1082 harms Arizona students, particularly LGBTQ students who are already at significantly higher risk from harassment, bullying, and suicide,” said Angela Hughey, President and Co-Founder of Arizona’s ONE Community and ONE Community Foundation. “When students can’t come to school as their whole selves because of fear of harassment or being told who they are isn’t ok, educational outcomes are significantly worse.We need all students to succeed in Arizona for a sustainable future.SB 1082 is a harmful step backwards.”

"SB 1082 sets the clock back for LGBTQ Arizonans,” said state Rep. Daniel Hernandez. “While the last minute amendment would not prohibit talking about homosexuality, the bill as it stands would still  require schools to promote abstaining from ‘sexual conduct’ including ‘homosexuality.’ As chair of the LGBTQ caucus, I will work to ensure the safety of all Arizona’s children by defeating this extreme bill.”

GLAAD President and CEO Sarah Kate Ellis also spoke out today:

“Republican state senator Sylvia Allen’s shocking bill defies education best practices and, by barring medically accurate age-appropriate information, will put young people in Arizona at greater risk of mental health issues, STDs, and sexual abuse. Instead of finding ways to help and support all of her constituents, state senator Allen continues to find poorly researched, irresponsible, and shameful ways to harm and malign LGBTQ young people in Arizona.”

In 2019, Arizona elected leaders came together in a bi-partisan fashion to repeal the harmful and discriminatory “no promo homo” law, a decades-old law that prevented LGBTQ students from receiving accurate information in health education classes and banned schools from sexual education that “promoted a homosexual lifestyle.” Republican Governor Doug Ducey signed the repeal into law.

The 2015 Arizona Youth Risk Behavior survey by the Williams Institute of UCLA School of Law found that 47% of lesbian, gay, and bisexual students in Arizona had seriously considered suicide compared to 15% of non-LGB students in the prior year. SB 1082 would ban potentially life saving information from reaching at risk students.  

According to ONE Community, parents in Arizona already have the right to see all educational materials that will be used in their children’s classrooms.All parents in Arizona can keep their own children out of sex education classes because no student participates in a sex education curriculum unless their parents give written permission.

Arizona state senator Sylvia Allen has a long history of opposing equality for LGBTQ Arizonans and spouting controversial rhetoric about other marginalized communities. She was a staunch opponent of the successful repeal of Arizona’s “no promo homo” laws last year. Prior to that, she advocated for a state constitutional amendment to ban marriage equality, writing: “same sex marriage is about forcing all within our society regardless of religious or traditional beliefs to accept radical changes which will have far reaching consequences. Consequences that change the very core of our society and how it functions. The loser will be the children who must endure the selfish desires of adults.”

During a 2015 debate on a bill allowing people to bring concealed weapons into public buildings, she attracted national attention for suggesting: “Probably we should be debating a bill requiring every American to attend a church of their choice on Sunday.” Last year, state senator Allen apologized following widespread criticism for a speech she gave in which she spoke about the “browning” of America and said “we’re going to look like South American countries very quickly.”