Arizona And Tennessee Pass Bills To Restrict Sexual And Gender Identity Education In Schools
Arizona and Tennessee have passed bills that would restrict sexual and gender identity education in schools.
It comes amid a record number of anti-trans legislation, with 33 states proposing more than a 100 bills since the start of 2021 that would infringe upon the rights of transgender people, whether it’s bans from female sports teams or Arkansas’ state-wide prohibition on trans youth accessing gender-affirming treatment.
Both states have sent bills to their respective governors that would shackle the freedom of schools’ curriculums when it comes to lessons around sexual and gender identity, allowing parents to have more of a say.
In Arizona, SB 1456, if signed into law, will mean students require ‘signed, written consent’ from a parent or guardian before they can access lessons on ‘sex education instruction or instruction regarding sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression to the student,’ with parents being informed of their ‘right to review the instructional materials and activities’.
The Human Rights Campaign (HRC) said the bill ‘would make Arizona’s sex education laws some of the strictest in the nation when it comes to teaching about LGBTQ+ issues,’ a href=”https://edition.cnn.com/2021/04/16/politics/arizona-tennessee-lgbtq-education/index.html” target=”_blank” rel=”noopener noreferrer”>CNN reports.
It passed the Republican-controlled House and Senate by votes of 31-28 and 16-14 respectively, and has now been sent to GOP Governor Doug Ducey. It’s unclear whether it will be signed, at the time of writing.
The state doesn’t have the greatest track record, having recently debated a bill that would have enforced only male or female gender markers on state identification documents. A representative also compared trans people to farm animals.
In Tennessee, the GOP House and Senate overwhelmingly passed SB 1229, which would require schools to ‘notify a student’s parent or guardian prior to commencing instruction of a sexual orientation or gender identity curriculum’ at least 30 days in advance, and ‘permits a parent or guardian to excuse the parent’s or guardian’s student from a sexual orientation or gender identity curriculum’.
It’s now been sent to Republican Governor Bill Lee to be signed. Rep. Terri Lynn Weaver, vice chair of the chamber’s Education Instruction Committee, said: ‘Parents are in charge of their children, not government, not entities. And I think this is a great piece of legislation that reminds who’s in charge.’
With regards to Arizona’s bill, its sponsor Sen. Nancy Barto said: ‘It is the parent, not the school, that has the ultimate responsibility for guarding the education, health, safety and well-being of their child, but too often the parent is kept out of loop.’
Alphonso David, HRC’s president, said the ‘bill is nothing more than a harmful attempt by Arizona legislators to discriminate against LGBTQ children’.
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