Arizona Repeals Law Forbidding LGBT Health Content in Schools

Good news: LGBT issues are no longer taboo in Arizona schools. The state legislature has repealed a longstanding law that forbade health teachers from addressing LGBT topics in their classrooms.

Originally created 28 years ago during the peak of the AIDS/HIV crisis, the law blocked teachers from curriculum that “portrays homosexuality as a positive alternative lifestyle” or in any way indicated that gay sex could be engaged in safely.

Not only does a law like that stigmatize being gay, it prevents LGBTQ youth from feeling included and learning about how to protect themselves as they mature and enter into relationships.

A lot of credit goes to Equality Arizona for filing a lawsuit a few weeks ago to try to have the courts overturn the law. The organization argued that the law is at odds with the Fourteenth Amendment since it singles out LGBTQ identity.

That was a solid enough point for the Republican attorney general, Mark Brnovich. Brnovich said he wouldn’t defend the law in court, which prompted state lawmakers to repeal it and avoid the process in court altogether.

To their credit, most Republican legislators went along with the repeal, and Governor Doug Ducey, also a Republican, signed the paperwork to make the repeal official within an hour of it passing it the state Senate.

It just goes to show that society has come a long way on LGBTQ issues; it’s hard to imagine many conservatives would agree to change this law even ten years ago. Undoubtedly it helps to now have six openly gay men serving in the state legislature to better advocate for such changes.

While the voided law may have officially addressed only health class content, the actual repercussions reached further. Speaking to ThinkProgress, Arizona LGBTQ authorities explained how the law frightened some teachers from discussing LGBTQ topics in other subject matters just to be safe.

“Some school staff weren’t sure if they could intervene when they saw anti-LGBT bullying or harassment,” said Joe Golfen of GLSEN Phoenix. “Others wouldn’t allow students to submit class assignments that addressed LGBTQ issues.”

Meanwhile, though it’s an improvement to have health teachers be able to discuss sexual topics outside of a heterosexual context, that doesn’t mean many will choose to do so, particularly if they lack the knowledge and resources.

Just four states in the whole country require sex education courses to include LGBTQ content, and only two states mandate LGBTQ history. Everywhere else, those topics are at the teachers’ discretion – and that’s not good enough for the countless LGBTQ students who deserve to feel seen.

39 comments

Lara A
Lara Aabout a month ago

tyfs

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Hannah A
Hannah Aabout a month ago

thanks for sharing

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Richard B
Richard B1 months ago

thanks for sharing

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Veronica D
Veronica Danie2 months ago

Thank you so very much.

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Veronica D
Veronica Danie2 months ago

Thank you so very much.

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Veronica D
Veronica Danie2 months ago

Thank you so very much.

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Melisa B
Past Member 2 months ago

Thank you for posting

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Daniel N
Daniel N2 months ago

Thank you

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Janis K
Janis K2 months ago

Thanks for sharing.

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Joan E
Joan E2 months ago

Sorry, the message below was meant to be for the caged orangutan, not LGBT, but I wish all the good life they deserve.

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