Republicans in Arizona’s state legislature have passed a bill that would inhibit public schools from teaching LGBTQ history, a move that activists say endangers the health and safety of queer students statewide.
The bill in question, SB 1456, moved forward this Wednesday (April 14). If signed into law, it would require that all parents of children in public schools “be notified in advance, and given the opportunity to opt their children into, any instruction regarding sexuality, gender identity, or gender expression.” According to Tuscon.com, educators would also be barred from teaching anything about HIV/AIDS — including the history of the AIDS crisis and HIV/AIDS activism or how the virus itself spreads.
In a statement, the ACLU of Arizona described SB 1456 as “a harmful bill that discriminates against the LGBTQ community, installs institutional bigotry in our schools, and threatens the health and safety of students.” Its passage comes less than two years repealed a similar law barring any instruction that “promotes a homosexual lifestyle,” referred to colloquially as the “No Promo Homo” law.
Two years ago, we hoped that the Arizona Legislature was taking a step away from bigoted measures like Arizona’s “No Promo Homo” law that harmed and stigmatized LGBTQ students.
We were sadly mistaken. pic.twitter.com/j3r2xkEeqc
— ACLU of Arizona (@ACLUaz) April 14, 2021
It’s hardly the first state-level legislative effort aimed at LGBTQ youth in the United States. This year alone, Republican lawmakers in 25 states across America have introduced at least 60 anti-transgender bills, according to Axios report from March.
Many of these bills target trans student athletes, with legislation in states like Florida banning them from participating in school sports. Others, like a particularly sinister bill in Arkansas that was pushed forwarded despite being vetoed by the state’s governor, seek to prevent trans kids from accessing gender-affirming health care.
Main image: An ACT UP protest in Rockville, Maryland, on October 11, 1988.