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GLSEN Arizona and Southern Arizona AIDS Foundation Respond to Arizona Senate’s Statement Opposing No

June 15, 2022

GLSEN Arizona and the Southern Arizona AIDS Foundation are deeply saddened by the position taken by the Senate Majority in their recent statement opposing nondiscrimination protections for LGBTQ+ people in Arizona and falsely painting LGBTQ+ people as immoral and perverse. Disguised as an attempt to keep children safe, this statement is nothing more than a harmful attack on an already marginalized community.

Over 50% of LGBTQ+ students in Arizona secondary schools have been verbally harassed based on their sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression. Over 20% have experienced physical harassment. Conversely, students who feel protected by inclusive and supportive policies report more positive school experiences, including lower victimization and

absenteeism, and higher academic achievement.

At a moment when the legislature still has not passed a state budget, those who endorse this disingenuous and animus-driven position should instead be using this time to invest in Arizona’s one million youth in our public schools, in part by drawing on our $5.3 billion budget surplus, rather than letting students languish in what are among the worst funded schools in the country.

All people, regardless of their sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression, deserve to be safe and affirmed. By attacking nondiscrimination protections, the Arizona State Senate Majority is arguing that LGBTQ+ youth are not worthy or deserving of basic safety. GLSEN Arizona and the Southern Arizona AIDS Foundation believe youth need safe and affirming spaces. This includes school communities committed to creating a learning environment based on acceptance and affirmation of their LGBTQ+ classmates and families.

GLSEN Arizona believes that every student has the right to a safe, supportive, and LGBTQ-inclusive K-12 education. Specifically, GLSEN Arizona trains, organizes, and empowers school communities to create safer and more affirming learning environments for LGBTQ+ and all students in K-12 schools.

Southern Arizona AIDS Foundation, based in Tucson, AZ, holds the mission to promote health, well-being, and social justice for those living with HIV, LGBTQ+ individuals, and communities marginalized by society. Not only through the work of the Thornhill Lopez Center on 4th (TLC4), SAAF also supports community events like the drag show hosted by the Tucson Unified School District (TUSD).

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