Republican Governor of Arizona Doug Ducey vetoed a bill requiring strict sex education practices and instead issued his own executive order regarding the topic on Tuesday.
Governor Ducey did not sign SB 1456, a sex education bill that sought to give parents more control over sex education in the classroom. Among other actions, the bill would create procedures that would allow parents to be told in advance of, and allowed to opt their children in to, learning situations regarding sexuality, gender identity, or gender expression.
According to NBC News, Governor Ducey said that the bill was overly broad and vague, and said that it would create unintended consequences. He also said that he was concerned about prohibiting sex education before 5th grade as it could place certain children at risk by not giving them sexual abuse prevention education.
The bill would essentially require parents to opt in to specific sexual education instruction for their children. Conservative supporters of the legislation argued it was a way to give parents more control over their children’s education, but Democrats said it was an attack on LGBTQ students.
Ducey’s executive order is meant “to provide parents with a meaningful opportunity to participate, review and provide input on any proposed sex education course of study before it is adopted,” adding that any proposed sex education course of study needs to be made available for review and public commentary before it is decided upon. There also must be at least two public hearings held beforehand, and the course of study must be made available for parents to review at least two weeks before instruction is offered. The order also applies to existing sex education, requiring all courses of study to be available for review by the end of June.
“Arizona is and will remain a national leader in parental rights,” the governor said upon issuing the order. “Too often, parents are left out of this process, and the importance is even greater when it comes to educating students about deeply personal matters like sex education. This Executive Order ensures that parents are in the driver’s seat when it comes to overseeing the education of their children.”
State Senator Nancy Barto (R), who sponsored the bill, said in a statement to The Hill that Ducey’s executive 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.”
The state’s Superintendent of Public Instruction Kathy Hoffman applauded the governor on Twitter for his veto, saying that Ducey “made the right decision by vetoing SB1456 and I want to thank him for standing up to bigotry and intolerance. All students are welcome in Arizona’s public schools and today’s veto reaffirms that.”
According to a report from Sexuality Information and Education Council of the United States (SIECUS), a nonprofit organization that pushes for access to sex education, schools in Arizona have restrictions in place regarding the topic, including that they are not required to teach sex or HIV education.
The report on Arizona’s sex education requirements in schools continues:
If a school chooses to teach sex education, it must stress abstinence.
If sex education is offered, curriculum is not required to include instruction on sexual orientation or gender identity.
If sex education is offered, curriculum is not required to include instruction on consent.
Parents or guardians must provide written permission for their children to participate in sex education. This is referred to as an “opt-in” policy.
If sex education is offered, curriculum must be medically accurate.
Several other states with Republican-controlled legislatures are also considering bills that would change sex education in schools.