PHOENIX – Two years after Arizona lawmakers repealed a ban on any HIV/AIDS instruction that “promotes a homosexual lifestyle" as they faced a lawsuit, they have approved revamping the state's sex education laws to make them some of the strictest in the nation when it comes to teaching about LGBTQ issues.
The measure pushed by a powerful social conservative group 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.
Schools also would need parents to sign off on their children learning about historical events involving sexual orientation, such as a discussion of the modern gay rights movement that sprang from the 1969 Stonewall riots in New York.
The bill passed the Republican-controlled House on a party-line vote Wednesday, with Democrats saying it would harm LGBTQ children. It already passed the Senate and now goes to Republican Gov. Doug Ducey.
Arizona is among several Republican-led states where lawmakers are considering similar changes to sex education. 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, according to the Guttmacher Institute, a reproductive rights group that tracks such legislation.
Arizona is one of five states that already require parents' permission before a child can attend sex education classes, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. The new proposal would essentially require a double opt-in for HIV/AIDS instruction that addresses sexual orientation or gender identity. Additional permission would be needed for LGBTQ discussions in any other class.
Idaho legislation also requires notifications and opt-ins, including for discussion of sexual orientation outside of sex education classes. It has passed the House and awaits Senate action.
Lawmakers in Tennessee and Missouri are considering measures that would require parents to be notified before instruction on sexual orientation or gender identity but would exclude historical references.