Ducey Vetoes Sex Ed Bill, Issues Executive Order Instead

By B. Hamilton

On Tuesday, conservatives lamented Governor Doug Ducey’s decision to veto legislation that would have strengthen parental input in the Sex Education curriculum offered to their children. They also questioned why the governor would then turn around and issue an Executive Order on the subject.

Cathi Herrod, president of the Center for Arizona Policy, said the governor’s veto sent the “clear and deeply disappointing message” to parents that the “government knows better.” She also noted that the governor’s Executive Order “fails to implement the prohibition of sex education prior to fifth grade.”

The bill, SB 1456, prohibits schools from providing Sex Ed to any students below the fifth grade – including education on AIDS and HIV. It also required schools to make all Sex Ed curriculum available for parental review two weeks in advance, at minimum.

RELATED ARTICLE: Arizona Legislature Passes Bill Requiring Parental Permission for All Sex Ed Curriculum

The bill passed along party lines in both the House and Senate.

SB 1456, sponsored by Senator Nancy Barto, did not prohibit or dictate any curriculum in grades 5-12; it “merely would have ensured parents opt their children into instruction on human sexuality,” according to Herrod.

Barto said that the governor’s veto undermined parent’s rights. She said that the “commonsense bill” aimed to “put sensitive decisions about Sex Ed and parents’ hands.”

“An Executive Order is no substitute for parental rights grounded in law. The bill created workable transparency solutions for parents and stopped Sex Ed for younger school age children – something an overwhelming a mature overwhelming majority of Arizona support,” continued Barto. “The veto undermines every single elected Republican Legislature who voted to defend parents and address the frustrations they face with the current status quo that provides opt out for some sexual materials and opt in for others. Arizona is one of the best states to raise a family, but this decision is inconsistent with that reputation. While I am extremely disappointed, my commitment to parents’ fundamental rights remains unchanged. I will continue to work with my colleagues to protect Arizona parents.”

Herrod challenged statements made by Governor Ducey in his veto letter. Specifically, the governor claimed that he was concerned that child abuse prevention education would be prohibited. Herrod countered that “abuse prevention is not sex education, and would not have been blocked by any provision in SB 1456.

“Unfortunately, to my knowledge, this concern was not brought to the attention of lawmakers by the executive branch prior to the veto.”

“Make no mistake, the need to advocate for the parent’s ability to guide the education of their children, especially with regard to matters of human sexuality,” said Herrod in her press release. “will continue to be a key priority for us, and the many Arizonans who supported SB 1456.”

The governor’s Executive Order requires the State Board of Education to adopt the following requirements by June 30, 2021:

  • All meetings held for the purposes of reviewing and selecting the sex education course of study must be publicly noticed at least two weeks before occurring and be open to the public.
  • Any proposed sex education course of study must be available and accessible for review and public comment for at least sixty days before the governing board or governing body decides whether to approve that course of study.
  • At least two public hearings within the sixty-day period before the governing board or governing body approves any course of study must be conducted.
  • Once a course of study has been approved, a school district or charter school shall make the sex education curricula available for parental review, both online and in-person at least two weeks before any instruction is offered.
  • Any existing sex education course of study must be made available and accessible for review both online and in person.