Sylvia Allen

Sen. Sylvia Allen chides members of the state Board of Education in June over a proposal to alter the rules about what can and cannot be taught in sex ed classes in Arizona schools.

PHOENIX — Arizona students wouldn’t be allowed to take sexual education classes until the seventh grade, and parents could sue school districts if that class included discussions about homosexuality or failed to primarily focus on abstinence under a plan introduced last Wednesday by the conservative head of the Arizona Senate’s Education Committee.

The legislation, Senate Bill 1082, is being pursued by Sen. Sylvia Allen, a Republican from Snowflake who has for months said that she plans to dramatically curtail the teaching of sex ed in Arizona schools.

Allen did not return a call for comment.

In September, Allen told a conservative forum on education that schools are giving pornography to students under the guise of sex ed. At that forum, she also bragged that she blocked Democrat-sponsored bills in 2019 that related to sex ed.

Arizona law currently allows schools to develop “age-appropriate” sex ed curriculum for students of all ages, and parents must opt-in to the classes.

However, in recent months, Republicans have seized on sex ed as a way to attack Democratic Superintendent of Public Instruction Kathy Hoffman. At the September education forum, Republican Speaker of the Arizona House of Representatives Rusty Bowers called her “radical” for seeking — and failing — to change the state standards for sex ed.

And in December, Rep. Anthony Kern, R-Glendale, said without evidence that Hoffman and Democrats want schools to use pornographic materials to teach sex to kindergartners. 

Allen’s SB1082 would remove the word “homosexuality” from the definition of “sexual conduct” that can be taught in sex ed classes. In her bill, the classes would also include any instruction on human sexuality, sexual activity, sexual acts, intimate relationships, sexually transmitted infections, contraception, pregnancy, HIV and AIDS.

If school districts or charter schools opt to teach sex education, abstinence must be “the primary message in all” instruction, and students are to be taught that abstinence is “the expected standard conduct.” The instruction could not “normalize” sexual conduct between students.

The classes must also emphasize sexual risk avoidance over reducing sexual risks.

School districts would also be required to get written permission from parents before their children can take sex ed classes, and parents are allowed to review the learning materials for the classes.

And school districts would have to hold at least two public hearings and make any curriculum publicly available for at least 60 days before the governing board approves the classes.

Then, if instruction is approved, school districts and charter schools would be required to notify parents and make course materials available for review at least two weeks before the classes begin. 

Parents would also be given the right to sue schools if the regulations on sex ed aren’t followed.

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