Action Alert! HB 2161 and HB 2495 in committee Tuesday March 15
This is one of the last opportunities this legislative session to speak out about these and other anti-LGBTQ+ bills before they move out of committee and into potential floor votes and then to the Governor’s desk. Contact the members of the Senate Education committee now! And voice your opposition to these bills: Paul Boyer (Chairman): email@example.com | (602) 926-4173 Thomas Shope (Vice-Chairman): firstname.lastname@example.org | (602) 926-3012 Nancy Barto: email@example.com | (602) 926-5766 Sally Ann Gonzales: firstname.lastname@example.org | (602) 926-3278 Rick Gray: email@example.com | (602) 926-5413 Christine Marsh: firstname.lastname@example.org | (602) 926-3184 Tyler Pace: email@example.com | (602) 926-5760 Theresa Hatathlie: firstname.lastname@example.org | (602) 926-5160 More information and links to talking points for HB 2161 and HB 2495 below: HB 2161 would make it illegal for a government employee to withhold information that is “relevant to the physical, emotional or mental health of the parent’s child.” Teachers that fail to call a parent could lose their certification. And parents can sue school districts that don’t provide them with that information. While the sponsor, Rep. Steve Kaiser, R-Phoenix, claims this is only targeting student surveys given without parental consent, the language about keeping secrets — and the penalties against parents and schools — is cause for serious concern. This bill poses a serious threat to the safety of students, especially those who identify as LGBTQ or who are at risk of experiencing abuse. Teachers would be required under law to out students who disclose their sexuality or gender identity to their parents, exposing queer students to significant harm from potentially unaccepting family members. Additionally, it would likely expose those experiencing abuse from family members to harm. Under Kaiser’s bill, a teacher would have to notify the parents—the likely abusers—that the child informed them of the abuse. As expected from such a dangerous bill, Kaiser, the sponsor, has admitted he didn’t work with education groups or teachers, but instead with anti-LGBTQ advocacy groups—chief among them the Center for Arizona Policy, a conservative Christian lobbying organization that has pushed numerous controversial and bigoted bills since their formation in 1995. Another stakeholder that Kaiser consulted is Family Watch International, which the Southern Poverty Law Center has designated an anti-LGBTQ hate group. HB 2161 is set to be heard on March 15th at 2 p.m. in the Senate Education Committee. We need allies to be aware of how dangerous this bill is to all students and teachers and help bring attention to it. There are a number of Republicans who have recognized the potential harm and are swayable. See more: talking points about HB2161 HB 2495: Sponsored by Representative Hoffman. Framed as a ban on pornography in schools, this bill’s definition of sexually explicit material is so broad that it includes all “textual, visual, and audio materials” that depict “sexual conduct,” “sexual excitement,” or “ultimate sexual acts.” While an amendment has been added to make an exception for “classical” books, “early American literature” and any “required book for a course to obtain college credit,” in practice, this bill will censor LGBTQ+ stories from both history and literature, and do overall damage to the kinds of stories and ideas taught in schools. An original version of the bill, since amended, included explicitly banning depictions of “homosexuality,” a clear indication of the bill's intent.