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 The state legislature has repealed a longstanding law that forbade health teachers from addressing LGBT topics in their classrooms.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.

15 comments

Loredana V
Loredana V1 hours ago

Well done, Arizona!
Thanks for sharing.

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hELEN h
hELEN h3 hours ago

TYFS

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Wesley S
Wesley Struebing3 hours ago

Thank you, Arizona! (for once...) It was an ignorant, uncaring and homophobic law to begini with and had no business being passed in the first place. Not even in Arizona. Now, how about something (it doesn't have to be a law - well, maybe it does...) that mandates LGBTQI acknowledgment in those mandatory sex-ed classes?

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Bill Eagle
Bill Eagle6 hours ago

Good for Arizona. They finally appear to be slightly less backward than they have been in the past.

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Sherry Kohn
Sherry Kohn8 hours ago

Many thanks to you !

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Tania N
Tania N10 hours ago

Thank you for sharing.

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Tania N
Tania N10 hours ago

Thank you for sharing.

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Danuta W
Danuta Watola10 hours ago

Thank you for sharing.

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Ellie L
Ellie L12 hours ago

Good

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Janet B
Janet B18 hours ago

Thanks

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