State Watch

Arizona governor vetoes strict sex education bill

Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey (R) has vetoed a restrictive sex education bill that would have mandated that parents give consent before their children learn about LGBTQ issues.

Along party lines, the state legislature last week passed Senate Bill 1456, which would have required a school district’s governing board to develop procedures under which parents would have the opportunity to opt their children into education regarding sexuality, gender identity or gender expression.

It also prohibited schools from teaching about HIV or AIDS without consent.

In a veto letter dated Tuesday, Ducey said the bill was “overly broad and vague and could lead to serious consequences, including the very real possibility that it could be misrepresented by schools and result in standing in the way of important child abuse prevention education in the early grades for at risk and vulnerable children.”

Ducey instead signed an executive order he said imposes stricter requirements for sex education requirements.

The order requires meetings held for reviewing sex education courses to be publicly announced at least two weeks in advance and open to the public, and it makes any proposed sex education courses accessible for public review at least 60 days before a given district approves it.

After the course is approved, a school district then has to make the curriculum available online for parents to review. The order also makes existing sex education courses available and accessible for review.

It’s unclear if the Arizona Senate will pursue overriding Ducey’s veto in light of the executive order.

State Sen. Nancy Barto (R), who sponsored the bill, said in a statement to The Hill that Ducey’s order is “no substitute for parental rights grounded in law.”

“The veto undermines every single elected Republican legislator who voted to defend parents and address the frustrations they face with the current status quo that provides opt-out for some sexual materials and opt-in for others,” Barto said. “While I am extremely disappointed, my commitment to parents’ fundamental rights remains unchanged. I will continue to work with my colleagues to protect Arizona parents.”

Arizona is one of five states that mandates parents opt in to sex education courses, as opposed to opting out, regardless of what grade students are in.

The move comes as GOP-led states increasingly pursue bills that roll back LGBTQ rights, specifically as it pertains to transgender youth.

Earlier this month, the Arkansas State Legislature voted to override Gov. Asa Hutchinson’s (R) veto of a bill that bans gender reassignment surgeries and other treatments for transgender youth.

Hutchinson warned that the bill would create “new standards of legislative interference with physicians and parents as they deal with some of the most complex and sensitive matters dealing with young people.”

Updated at 12:49 p.m.

Tags Arizona Asa Hutchinson Doug Ducey gender expression LGBTQ Sex Ed Sex education

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