Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey (R) vetoed a controversial bill that would have banned teachers from talking about LGBTQ people or HIV without getting parental permission,
“The language of the bill is overly broad and vague and could lead to serious consequences,” he wrote in a letter explaining the veto, saying that the bill could impede “important child abuse prevention education.”
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Ducey did not mention LGBTQ people in the explanation, even though they were the focus of Republican lawmakers when passing the bill. They compared discussions of LGBTQ people to “an R-rated movie” and that “parents shouldn’t have to worry” that sexual orientation or gender identity will be mentioned in school.
S.B. 1456 requires parental permission to opt students in to any discussion of LGBTQ people or HIV. The state is already one of five that requires parents to opt their kids in for sex ed, which means the bill would have required “a double opt-in” for sex education that mentions LGBTQ people, according to the AP.
And the bill is not limited to sex education but includes any instruction that mentions “sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression,” which could include history classes or anti-bullying discussions.
Schools also have to make any instruction about LGBTQ people available so that parents have two weeks to review it before giving their children permission to hear it.
— Arizona Senate Democrats (@AZSenateDems) April 15, 2021
Critics of the bill were not only worried about its discriminatory nature against the LGBTQ community and stifling education about HIV, but also feared that its restriction of sex education to 5th grade and up would prevent younger students from learning about “good touch/bad touch” and inhibit their ability to report sexual abuse.
— NCLR – National Center for Lesbian Rights (@NCLRights) April 21, 2021
In Ducey’s letter explaining the veto, he said that while he supports more parental involvement in education and is proud that Arizona is one of five states where parents must “opt-in” to sex ed for their children, the language of the bill “could be misinterpreted by schools and result in standing in the way of important child abuse prevention education.”
Superintendent of Public Instruction Kathy Hoffman said Ducey made the right decision with the veto.
“I want to thank him for standing up to bigotry and intolerance,” Hoffman tweeted. “All students are welcome in Arizona’s public schools and today’s veto reaffirms that.”
Gov. @dougducey made the right decision by vetoing SB1456 and I want to thank him for standing up to bigotry and intolerance. All students are welcome in Arizona’s public schools and today’s veto reaffirms that.
— Kathy Hoffman (@Supt_Hoffman) April 20, 2021
Along with the veto, Ducey issued an executive order that he said “seeks to encompass the heart of the bill” and that requires schools to post their sex ed curriculum online and also provides two weeks notice of all school board meetings that will discuss sex ed. Under S.B. 1456, posting curriculum online would have been optional.
“Arizona is and will remain a national leader in parental rights,” Ducey said in a statement. “Too often, parents are left out of this process, and the importance is even greater when it comes to educating students about deeply personal matters like sex education.”