By Brad McQueen
A proposed bill in the Arizona State Legislature, HB2476 , seeks to change an important component of sex education for Arizona’s kindergarten through 12th graders.
Currently, Arizona law places the burden squarely on schools to obtain parent permission to provide sex education instruction to their kids. This ensures parents are alerted to the instruction and are invited to review all of the curriculum, to include literature and videos, that will be used in the sex education class. The parents can then decide if they want their children exposed to the content of the classes or if they want to “opt out”.
HB2476 wants schools to be able to proceed with sex education instruction unless parents specifically ask that their kids be opted out, putting the burden squarely on the parents. The first time the parents may be aware that their kids are being taught sex education may be at the dinner table when they provide a colorful answer to the question, “What did you learn in school today, son?”
This bill also seeks to permit teachers, who instruct kindergartners through 12th graders using the sex education curriculum, the ability to answer “any question initiated by a student or students that is reasonably related to and consistent with the material of the course.” This is pretty broad wording which could include kids asking questions in class or throughout the school year.
I’ve taught sex education at the 5th grade level and the range of questions that can be asked by kids is vast and can span the political spectrum allowing a teacher to inject their personal beliefs into their answers if that is their agenda.
Teachers should be restricted to giving answers to questions which can specifically be found in the curriculum that parents have agreed to have their kids exposed to, and nothing more.
If a question is asked outside the confines of the agreed upon curriculum the teacher’s answer should always be, “That’s a good question, but it is a question for your parents to answer.”
HB 2476 also reveals its potential political agenda when it states that sex education instruction may not discriminate on the basis of “sexual orientation or gender identity”.
I definitely don’t think that any school instruction should denigrate anyone’s sexual orientation or gender identity, as some language in current statute ARS 15-706 dealing with instruction related to A.I.D.S. seems to do, but this bill’s language is too broad.
It may be perfectly legitimate in one family situation for a student to know about sexual orientation or gender identity (read transgender), but in another family it may be considered completely inappropriate for their kids to be exposed to these topics, much less by their teacher.
The broad nature of this part of the bill brings to mind the firestorm of controversy which ensued from an incident at Anna Henry Elementary in Tucson in the Tucson Unified School District (TUSD) where a girl who identified as a boy used the boys’ restroom.
TUSD decided to revise its discrimination policy wording to include “gender identity and expression” and district officials cited that change when they said that students could use whichever bathroom they identified with in terms of their “gender identity”.
Parents at Anna Henry Elementary were rightfully upset that the subject of transgenderism was inappropriately inflicted upon their kids requiring much explanation to deal with their kids’ extreme discomfort and confusion when a girl was allowed to use the boys bathroom because she identified as male.
It is not the right of a politically driven district like TUSD to inflict their social/political agenda on its students and parents disguised as non-discrimination. Unfortunately, this bill would give districts like TUSD license to do just that, and they will.
Parental sovereignty over their kids’ education is already under attack at every turn with government overreach like the Common Core in Arizona. This bill is yet another attempt at marginalizing parents and should be defeated.
Note: This bill was introduced by Representatives Mendez(D), Andrade(D), Cardenas(D), Clark(D), Gabaldón(D), Mach(D), Sherwood(D), Steele(D), Velasquez(D), Bolding(D), Espinoza(D), Fernandez(D), Friese(D), Gonzales(D), and Saldate(D).
Brad McQueen is a former Common Core insider and current public school teacher in Tucson, Arizona and is the author of the anti-Common Core book “The Cult of Common Core”. Connect with Brad at email@example.com