Coalition Opposes Bill They Say Would Limit Sex Education In AZ Schools

By Rocio Hernandez
Published: Tuesday, February 16, 2021 - 2:18pm
Updated: Tuesday, February 16, 2021 - 2:45pm

A group of sex education advocates is opposing a bill that they say would restrict this type of curriculum in schools. 

Members of Sex Education for a Change Coalition say a bill by Republican state Sen. Nancy Barto, that will be in heard in the Senate Education committee on Tuesday, would create a lengthy bureaucratic process for approval of this kind of curriculum. They’re concerned it would require families to opt in to learn this material, and topics such as sexual orientation and HIV, rather than the current opt out system. It also would ban schools from providing any sex ed instruction before fifth grade.

"It is clear that S.B. 1456 intends to restrict student access to comprehensive and inclusive sex ed despite the wishes of parents and guardians across the state," said Bridget Sharpe, the Arizona state director for the Human Rights Campaign and coalition member.

They worry less sex education curriculum could push students to seek the information on the internet, which could be inaccurate. 

Instead, the coalition is supporting two bills known as the “Safe and Healthy Students Act” they say promotes age-appropriate and medically accurate sex education.

“So in the earlier ages what we want to talk about is good touch, bad touch because we have students who are in situations where they may be abused but don’t have the language to be able tell adults and trusted folks," said Democrat state Sen. Daniel Hernandez, one of the bill’s sponsors. 

The bills were developed with input from educators, parents and youths, he said. 

EDITOR'S NOTE: The story has been updated to correct the spelling of Bridget Sharpe's name.