LGBTI advocacy groups are celebrating the passage of a bill in Arizona repealing a ban on LGBTI and HIV instruction in schools.
In majority votes in the state’s Senate and House, lawmakers got rid of a 28-year-old law. The 1991 law used anti-LGBTI language and banned schools from promoting inclusive education.
The law stipulated that no school district would be allowed to teach instruction that ‘promotes a homosexual lifestyle’.
Schools also could not portray ‘homosexuality as a positive alternative life-style’ or suggest ‘some methods of sex are safe methods of homosexual sex’.
This week, legislators voted on Senate Bill 1346. The bill includes an amendment that does away with the old law.
On Wednesday (10 April), House representatives voted 55-5 in favor of the new bill and amendment. Senators voted 19-10 the following day (11 April), and Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey (R) signed it into law soon after.
State Superintendent of Public Instruction Kathy Hoffman celebrated the bill’s passage with a series of tweets.
‘This repeal means students will no longer be denied access to medically accurate, science-based information regarding HIV/AIDS,’ she wrote.
‘More importantly, after nearly three decades of this law placing stigma on our #LGBTQ community, the repeal sends a signal to every student, teacher, and family in Arizona that they are welcome in our schools – regardless of who they are and who they love.’
Celebrating inclusive and complete education
Many LGBTI advocacy groups are celebrating the bill’s passage. Some, such as Equality Arizona, filed a lawsuit against the state’s Board of Education regarding the former law.
‘Arizona is stigmatizing and demeaning LGBTI students and preventing them from getting medically-accurate information that literally could save their lives,’ Lambda Legal Staff Attorney Puneet Cheema said.
‘They are breeding a school environment that is hostile to LGBTI students and their relationships, and exposing LGBTI students to harassment and abuse in classrooms, hallways, and locker rooms.’
Now, organizations and politicians alike are praising the new bill.
‘We applaud today’s strong, bipartisan action that sends a message of love and acceptance to LGBTQ youth,’ said Zeke Stokes, Chief Programs Officer for GLAAD.
‘Arizona students should never be taught to hate a marginalized group, and LGBTQ youth should never be subject to harassment, discrimination, or erasure just because of who they are.’
Rep. Daniel Hernandez (D), who helped lead the efforts, added: ‘The repeal of No Promo Homo is not a victory for one person or for one group. This is something that all of us share in because we were able to come together in a bipartisan way to ensure that Arizona students never have to feel like they stigmatized for who they are.’
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