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Arizona governor speaks out against bill limiting LGBTQ education

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Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey on Tuesday vetoed legislation that would have imposed some of the country’s most restrictive rules regarding LGBTQ education, calling the bill “too broad and vague.”

The bill, sponsored by eight Republicans and passed by the Arizona Senate following a party vote, would ban schools from teaching sexual orientation, gender identity and expression and l LGBTQ story unless a student obtains “written and signed consent” from a parent. or tutor choosing them for lessons.

Students would also not be able to receive HIV / AIDS courses unless they are enrolled in them.

Parts of the bill “could have serious consequences,” said Mr. Ducey, a Republican, in a letter explaining his veto.

A provision completely banning sex education before grade five “could be misinterpreted by schools and lead to a barrier to important child abuse prevention education in the early grades for at-risk and vulnerable children,” he said. he declared.

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Mr Ducey’s rebuke of his fellow Republicans comes after Governor Asa Hutchinson of Arkansas, also a Republican, this month vetoed legislation banning transgender minors from receiving medication or a surgical intervention affirming their gender. The Arkansas legislature, however, with a large Republican majority, quickly moved to overturn Ms Hutchinson’s veto.

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A waiver is unlikely in Arizona, as the Republicans at the Statehouse there – the bill passed the Senate, aged 16 to 14 – would need Democrats’ support to do so.

In the letter, Mr Ducey thanked the bill’s main sponsor, State Senator Nancy Barto, who represents parts of Phoenix, Scottsdale and Glendale, for “bringing this discussion to the fold,” adding: “I know his heart is in a good position. . “

Ms Barto said in a post on her website that the legislation “would provide vital tools to families and protect Arizona children in the early years of their education.” She said sex education had become “graphic and explicit”, adding that “related topics like gender identity and sexual orientation” were “introduced” into classrooms.

While Mr Ducey vetoed the law, he also issued an executive order requiring all sex education lessons to be posted online for parents to review, a measure he said “is intended to encompass the heart of the bill ”.

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The executive order maintained the bill’s provision that students must be allowed to participate in sex education by their parents or guardians, a requirement that already exists in Arizona, where schools are not mandated to teach education. sexual.

The veto was welcomed by State Democrats, who hailed it as “the right decision”. Kathy Hoffman, the state superintendent of public education, thanked the governor on Twitter to “oppose sectarianism and intolerance”.

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Madelaine Adelman, a professor at Arizona State University who focuses on justice studies and LGBTQ issues, said that inclusive education – in which “every student can see their own stories told” – was important for all students , not just for those who identify as LGBTQ

“Students learn about gender and sexuality every day of their lives, formally and informally, inside and outside of schools,” she said. “How do you want them to learn about it and what do you want them to learn about it?”

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Tony Navarrete, a Democrat in the Arizona Senate, said that “as a member of the LGBTQ community myself, it would have been really nice to grow up with the opportunity to ask questions about why I felt what I felt and why I felt different. . “

The bill’s attempt to link HIV and AIDS to LGBTQ history was “hypersexualizing” discussions of the topics, he said, adding that “more medically accurate sex education” was important.

Dr Adelman said the legislation was so broad that it could unintentionally limit other programs, like English classes, where heterosexuality is “the main theme of almost every book.”

Simply put, she says, “it was a bad bill.”

In 2019, Mr. Ducey sign a bill to repeal a 1991 law that banned education that promotes a “homosexual lifestyle” or otherwise portrays “homosexuality as a positive alternative lifestyle”.

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