New Version Of Sex Education Bill Heads To Arizona Senate

By Jill Ryan
Howard Fischer, Capitol Media Services
Published: Friday, May 14, 2021 - 8:54am

Republican lawmakers are making another bid to further restrict sex education in Arizona schools after the original bill was vetoed by Gov. Doug Ducey

Like before, this measure prohibits any type of sex education before the fifth grade, and effectively turns certain Arizona school instruction from an opt-out system to an opt-in by requiring parental permission before being exposed to any sexual content.

That doesn’t sit well with Democratic Sen. Tony Navarrete.

“This is not something that just targets sex education, this targets all of the curriculum that we see in our classrooms. So now any student that wants to learn about Romeo and Juliet, that has to do with sexuality. Any discussion around historical context, around the Stonewall Riots, around gay marriage being legalized through the SCOTUS decision will now have to require a signed permission slip," Navarrete said. 

Proponents of the measure see it as protecting parental rights and allowing parents a chance to know what their children would be learning. 

"Parents already, in statute, have this right. Now we're just making sure that they will be able to have that right in a workable solution because currently parents find out after the fact that a child was presented materials that the parent would have objected to if they had known," Republican Sen. Nancy Barto said. 

Since the last version of the bill was vetoed several changes were made. Barto, who had introduced the original bill, added a specific provision saying that schools are still allowed to provide "age and grade appropriate classroom instruction regarding child assault awareness and abuse prevention.''

She also agreed to strip language from the original measure that would have required an entirely separate opt-in by parents any time a teacher was discussing AIDS and the HIV virus that causes it, even when parents have signed permission slips for sex education, even though Ducey made no mention of that in his veto letter.

On a party-line vote, members of the Senate Committee on Health and Human Services approved the legislation and it now heads to the state Senate.

Politics Education