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LGBTQ groups sue Arizona over curriculum law

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(Photo via Pixabay)

TUCSON  – The National Center for Lesbian Rights and Lambda Legal filed a lawsuit against Arizona’s anti-LGBTQ curriculum law on Thursday.

The law bars students from receiving medically accurate, age-appropriate information about non-heterosexual people in their health education classes. Joining NCLF and Lambda in the suit are law professor Clifford Rosky and pro bono counsel Perkins Coie LLP, Lambda Legal said in a statement. It was filed on behalf of Equality Arizona and it’s student members.

Arizona law prohibits instruction in HIV/AIDS curriculum that “[p]romotes a homosexual life-style,” “[p]ortrays homosexuality as a positive alternative life-style,” or “[s]uggests that some methods of sex are safe methods of homosexual sex.”

“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 LGBTQ 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 LGBTQ students and their relationships, and exposing LGBTQ students to harassment and abuse in classrooms, hallways, and locker rooms.”

Two students are described in the complaint, according to Lambda Legal. One student, referred to by the anonymous initials, “A.A.,” is a gay freshman in a greater Phoenix high school. Another student, who is identified by the initials S.C. and is also named as a plaintiff, is a seventh-grade student at a middle school in Tucson. The lawsuit argues the anti-LGBTQ curriculum law violates the equal protection clause of the U.S. Constitution.

“We know that Arizona schools are not safe spaces for LGBTQ students,” said Michael Soto, Executive Director, Equality Arizona. “Recent surveys of LGBTQ students reveal that almost 80 percent regularly heard homophobic remarks, 71 percent experienced verbal harassment, and 12 percent were physically assaulted. A state law that explicitly demeans and dismisses LGBTQ students and their relationships cannot help but encourage that abuse and discrimination. The toxic school environment created by this law also contributes to higher rates of depression and suicidal thoughts among LGBTQ students.”

“I just want to feel safe at school like every other student, but this law makes me feel like an outsider just because I’m gay,” said the student identified as A.A. “I’ve been bullied because of my sexual orientation, and this law just encourages more of the same by labeling who I am as something to be ashamed of.”

Arizona’s anti-LGBTQ curriculum law was enacted nearly thirty years ago in 1991, according to Lambda Legal

The case is Equality Arizona v. Hoffman. Read about the case here: https://www.lambdalegal.org/in-court/legal-docs/equality-arizona_az_20190329_complaint

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