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LGBTQ advocates ask Gov. Ducey to veto controversial sex-ed bill

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TUCSON (KVOA) - A controversial sex-ed bill deemed too restrictive by some now heads to Gov. Doug Ducey's desk for his signature. And some hope he uses his veto pen.

Supporters say the bill upholds parental rights when it comes to sex education. Opponents say it unfairly discriminates against LGBTQ students and their families.

Tucson Pride President Sam Cloud says she is angered by is SB-1456, the bill that cleared both houses in Phoenix and now goes to Ducey's desk. This legislation requires written parental permission, opting their kids into not out of LGBTQ, gender identity and gender expression classroom discussions.

Cloud says this is big step backwards for Arizona.

"I am disgusted by this bill," she said. "It is nothing short of an act of oppression. Hands down.  It sends the message that having an LGBTQ identity is not valid."

The bill is sponsored by Republican state senator Nancy Barto. 

"It solely protects a parent’s right to decide when their child is ready and what their child is exposed to through their school...the bill is inclusive of all students. It absolutely does not single anyone out. Everyone has a sexual identity," Barto said in a statement. "Everyone has a gender identity.  And everyone exhibits gender expression in one way or another. It also eliminates confusion between what is opt-in and what is opt-out for both the school and parents regarding the sensitive subjects involved in human sexuality, promoting more parental engagement and respect for parents as their child’s primary educator."

SB-1456 also prohibits any type of sex education from being taught before fifth grade.

"We're wasting time on these really, petty, partisan fights. Sex education in Arizona is already an opt-in state," State Rep. Daniel Hernandez of Tucson said. "What they're trying to do is set back the clock because of this radical agenda that is really trying to harm the LGBTQ community but in doing so will also harm all students, especially those that are the most vulnerable who are being sexually abused."

The governor has yet to sign the bill into law. 

"It's hard enough to be a child and to explore your identity and your sexual health," Cloud said. "Don't make it harder by limiting resources and information."

State Schools Superintendent Kathy Hoffman said she opposes the bill. She characterizes it as state-codified bigotry. She says this legislation will silence and erase LGBTQ students and their history from our schools. 

Hoffman urges Ducey to veto the bill.

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Eric Fink

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