Arizona Conservatives Attempt to Roll Back LGBTQ-Inclusive Curriculum in Schools

Republican lawmakers in Arizona have approved new laws revamping LGBTQ-inclusive education in schools, making it harder for educators to teach about historical events such as the 1969 Stonewall riots in New York City that started the gay rights movement, discussions about sexual orientation or instruction of anything related to LGBTQ individuals in sex education classes. Opponents of the new laws say they are some of the strictest in the nation.

Bob Christie of the Associated Press has reported that the measure was “pushed by a powerful social conservative group” and “is framed as a parental rights issue and would require schools to get parents’ permission for discussions about gender identity, sexual orientation or HIV/AIDS” in sex education classes, history classes and other academic areas.

According to Christie, “Arizona’s measure would bar schools from providing sex education before fifth grade, require 60 days’ notice of curriculum changes and mandate public meetings about those revisions, even those required under the new law.” The bill has passed Arizona’s Republican-controlled House and Senate and now goes to Republican Gov. Doug Ducey for approval.

“Arizona is among several Republican-led states where lawmakers are considering similar changes to sex education,” Christie reported. “Moving to give parents more control over what their children may be taught about LGBTQ issues is new and comes amid other efforts pushing back on social changes, including legislation in some states to ban transgender athletes from competing on the school teams of their identified sex.”

While conservative groups like the Center for Arizona Policy have celebrated the legislation, saying it is a way to “ensure that parents have access to learning materials” and “have the opportunity to opt their child into classes dealing with human sexuality,” critics of the new laws, such as Alison Macklin, a senior policy adviser at the progressive group SIECUS: Sex Ed for Social Change, are quick to point out their hypocrisy.

“In a way, it’s a subliminal way of trying to get anti-homosexual legislation put in, by saying you can’t speak or talk about it in schools,” she said. “We would never make that type of legislation around other historical movements.”

Arizona is not alone in its attack on LGBTQ inclusivity either. Idaho has similar legislation pending. That state’s bill has passed the House and is awaiting a vote in the Senate. According to Christie, lawmakers in Tennessee and Missouri are also considering similar anti-LGBTQ education restrictions.

Montana lawmakers have also passed a bill that takes the opposite approach, allowing parents to “opt” their children out of pro-LGBTQ education in schools. The bill is also awaiting approval from Montana Gov. Greg Gianforte, who is also a Republican.

Related: For more recent diversity and inclusion news, click here.



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