Last month two gay-rights organizations sued the Arizona Board of Education over the state’s ban on HIV/AIDS education that “promotes a homosexual lifestyle”. On Tuesday, state solicitor general O.H. Skinner informed legislators that Attorney General Mark Brnovich has determined that the AG’s office will not be defending against the legal challenges.
Anti-LGBT+ Guidelines Put Ideology Over Good Education
At issue in the lawsuits are a series of laws which politicize sexual education curriculum by restricting information in HIV and AIDS that teachers are allowed to teach. In a classic example of the magical thinking employed by Christian conservatives, such legislation is rooted in the belief that they can somehow stop kids from being gay if they just never tell them that being gay is a thing by prohibiting instruction that “promotes a homosexual lifestyle” or “portrays homosexuality as a positive alternative lifestyle.”
Opponents point out that such curriculum guidelines are unconstitutional and single out LGBTQ+ students for bullying and discrimination. In addition, such laws are a failure of public education to give LGBTQ+ students the valuable information they need.
Arizona Democrats like state Senator Martin Quezada (D-Glendale) have been trying to get the law repealed for years (it was enacted in 1991), but recent changes in the state government following the 2018 election have opened the door to stronger challenges in the courts. Arizona’s new Superintendent of Schools, Kathy Hoffmann, is a progressive opponent of the discriminatory policies, and calls them outdated. Arizona Capitol Times reports:
… the issue took on new life in February when Hoffman, giving her first State of Education speech since taking office the month before, told lawmakers that there needs to be greater emphasis on “creating an inclusive environment that supports children from all backgrounds.” That, she said, means at the outset recognizing that students come from all types of families, even those with two moms or two dads.
And Hoffman said educators also must consider students who are more likely to be bullied and harassed. She said that includes students in the LGBTQ community.
“A simple step we can take to help reduce discrimination and bullying for these students is to repeal the ‘no promo homo’ law,” Hoffman said, saying it “contributes to an unsafe school environment.”
And the schools chief said the policy enshrined in the legislation “is not just outdated, it has always been harmful and wrong.”
We All Know These Laws are About Hate
Religious conservatives think gay sex is icky. They think homosexuality is a sin and that disease is their god’s punishment for doing things he doesn’t like. They don’t want schools to teach safe-sex because they believe preventing the spread of disease is standing in the way of their bigot god’s wrath. They want kids to learn that their beliefs are the ‘right way’ and if you don’t agree with their beliefs or conform to their way of life they want you to suffer. They believe that the suffering of others who disagree with them is a vindication of their worldview. It’s hateful, cruel, utterly ignorant of science, and a betrayal of the very concept of public education.
By refusing to defend the state against these lawsuits the Attorney General is giving the Arizona legislature an opportunity to address these issues by repealing, revising, and amending education statutes to free educators so they can teach their students scientifically accurate and valuable information. Let’s hope they take the hint.
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