Friends and allies of the fight for public education, teachers, student’s rights, and LGBTQ equality - We are urgently asking for your help to bring attention to a harmful bill that is set to be heard on March 15th.
Among the plethora of anti-LGBTQ and so-called “parental rights” bills running this session, 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.
How You Can Help:
We’ve provided a social media toolkit below with everything you might need to get the word out about this campaign. If you receive any requests to get involved as a result of these posts, we simply ask that you point them right back to your own organizations doing the work in Arizona to better the lives of LGBTQ persons and public education. Thank you for all you do.
#HB2161 will require teachers to out LGBTQ+ students or risk losing their certification. Coming out is something all queer people deserve to do on their own terms; for some, it can be dangerous. #NoOn2161
Strong parent school partnerships must be based on trust, not the threat of litigation. #HB2161 will further teacher strain, endanger students, and fail to bridge communities.
Students deserve a safe, supportive school environment. Legislation authored with the approval of designated hate groups will take that away. HB2161 requires schools and teachers to disclose any information confided in them regarding their students to parents, or be liable for lawsuits and decertification. Disguised as a “parental rights” bill, this leaves those at risk of domestic abuse, especially LGBTQ students, vulnerable and is yet another systemic attack on trans and queer students. Strong parent teacher relations are built on trust, not threats of litigation. HB 2161 is set to be heard on March 15th at 2 p.m. in the Senate Education Committee. Call your senators and urge a NO vote.
About the Proponents:
Rep. Steve Kaiser, R-Phoenix, who is sponsoring the measure, said he is mainly targeting surveys given to students without the consent of their parents. He told members of the House Education Committee those questions can include personal information of families, such as how many guns there are at home and whether their parents get along.
Kaiser, in defense of the issue with child abuse, said it is simple: If it doesn’t rise to the level of reportable abuse, then the parents should be notified, regardless of the issue.
Kaiser admitted he didn’t work with education groups or teachers, but 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 forming in 1995.
The bill also aims to allow parents additional access to certain medical records.
Another stakeholder that Kaiser consulted is Family Watch International, which the Southern Poverty Law Center has designated an anti-LGBTQ hate group.
Supporters of the bill said it was necessary to punish teachers in order to bring transparency to schools, who they said have been asking “inappropriate questions.”