By Diane Douglas, Arizona Superintendent of Public Instruction 2015-2018
When it came to SB1456 (sex ed instruction, parental rights), IF I were a bettin’ woman, I would have been betting Governor Doug Ducey would take the cowardly way out and have allowed the bill to pass into law without his signature.
Instead Ducey took the malicious way out – on so many levels. He vetoed SB1456 and replaced it with yet another worthless Lord Ducey decree – Executive Order 2021-11. One can’t help but wonder if this veto isn’t a bone Ducey threw to Kathy “no promo homo” Hoffman as it came just one day after he rescinded the school mask mandate she loved so much. But I digress.
Ducey’s statement in the veto letter that sex education in Arizona is “Opt-In” is disingenuous at best; if for no other reason than the conflicts and loopholes in statute – none of which were addressed in his executive order.
ARS 15-102(A) (4) reads: If a school district offers any sex education curricula pursuant to section 15-711 or 15-716 or pursuant to any rules adopted by the state board of education, procedures to prohibit a school district from providing sex education instruction to a pupil unless the pupil’s parent provides written permission for the child to participate in the sex education curricula. (All emphasis mine)
Except ARS 15-716(E), which defines requirements for HIV/AIDS instruction, reads: At the request of a parent, a pupil shall be excused from instruction on the acquired immune deficiency syndrome and the human immunodeficiency virus as provided in subsection A of this section. The school district shall provide a description of the course curriculum to all parents and notify all parents of their ability to withdraw their child from the instruction.
ARS 15-102 (A)(5) reads: Procedures by which parents will be notified in advance of and given the opportunity to withdraw their children from any instruction or presentations regarding sexuality in courses other than formal sex education curricula.
And I would remind parents that when the Genderbread Person was taught in a Flagstaff school it was brought into an elementary English Language Arts class. And while technically the teacher notified parents “in advance” the actual subject of the lesson and content of the instruction was not disclosed to parents.
So which is it – opt-in or opt-out? As any good attorney will no doubt tell you the answer is – it depends. But I can virtually assure parents under current law it will be whichever is most expedient for the district, which is opt-out.
SB1456 would have corrected these contradictions in statute and made Arizona truly an opt-in state.
But most importantly what SB1456 would have prohibited is the sexualization of children in Kindergarten through 4th grade.
Ducey’s “rationalization” for his veto of this vital protection for our youngest students is that SB1456 will stand “in the way of important child abuse prevention education in the early grades for at risk and vulnerable children.” It would be laughable if the subject was not so serious and his veto not more threatening to susceptible children. Exposing these young children to comprehensive sex education can for some children have the effect of desensitizing them and making them MORE vulnerable and, in the wrong hands, potentially groom them for sexual abuse.
Child abuse and comprehensive sex education are NOT one and the same and should NEVER be put under the same umbrella. Isn’t child abuse protection services one of the reasons Ducey added $20 million to the $15 million in grant funding for school counselors and social workers?
Any parents who has ever tried to get a school district to provide them access to instruction materials – before or after the fact – knows Arizona is NOT the land of parental rights that Ducey paints in his veto letter. Parental rights statutes in Arizona are about as effective as an old, toothless guard dog. There are no consequences for districts, schools or teachers that don’t comply with statute and fulfill the parent’s request for instructional materials.
As for Ducey’s self-congratulatory back slapping about encompassing what he deems the “heart of the bill” – parent “involvement” and online availability of sex ed curriculum – could have just as easily and effectively been expanded through State Board of Education rules which already set requirement for public meetings to review and adopt sex ed curricula. But whether by executive order or SBE rulemaking neither have stability nor durability of Arizona Revised Statutes. It has become very apparent over the past 13 months that our governor no longer respects a representative form of government for Arizona and continues to rule by decree rather than govern. But, again, I digress.
But no, Governor Ducey, the true heart of SB1456 was protecting the innocence of our youngest, students, ages 5 to 9 years old. Nothing is more important that safeguarding our precious children at the earliest ages, actually all ages, from the evil of Alfred C. Kinsey, Siecus and Planned Parenthood’s comprehensive sexual instruction and indoctrination. Well, nothing other than teaching our children to read, write and do arithmetic something else at which our system fails.
I’m sure glad that I am not a bettin’ woman because betting on Doug Ducey to protect parental rights and children’s innocence is a losing proposition – big time.