Two LGBTI groups have filed a federal lawsuit against Arizona over its anti-LGBTI curriculum law.
The National Center for Lesbian Rights and Lambda Legal filed the lawsuit in the US District Court for the District of Arizona on 29 March on behalf of Equality Arizona. This is a non-profit organization that advocates for the equality of LGBTI people and includes student members.
As per current legislation, Arizona’s students don’t have access to medically accurate, age-appropriate information about non-heterosexual people in their health education classes.
The law also prohibits instruction in HIV/AIDS curriculum that ‘promotes a homosexual lifestyle’.
It further forbids instruction that ‘suggests that some methods of sex are safe methods of homosexual sex’.
Children need to feel valued
‘In 2019, it is shocking to see Arizona enforcing a law that openly disparages a group of students and requires them to be treated differently from all other students,’ said NCLR Senior Staff Attorney Julie Wilensky.
‘It is time for this harmful law to be eliminated from Arizona’s schools so all children can feel safe and valued.’
‘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.’
Schools in Arizona aren’t safe for LGBTI kids
‘We know that Arizona schools are not safe spaces for LGBTI students,’ said Michael Soto, Executive Director, Equality Arizona.
He explained that recent surveys of LGBTI students reveal that almost 80% regularly heard homophobic remarks. Moreover, 71% experienced verbal harassment, and 12% were victims of physical assault.
A state law explicitly demeaning and dismissing LGBTI students will ‘encourage that abuse and discrimination’.
Arizona’s current anti-LGBTI curriculum law entered into force nearly thirty years ago in 1991.
Lambda Legal deemed the law ‘outdated, harmful, and wrong’.
Kathy Hoffman – the Arizona Superintendent of Public Education and a defendant in the lawsuit – has herself acknowledged the law’s limitations.
Repeated legislative efforts to repeal the law have failed, however, and the State continues to enforce it.