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Arizona bills would make state sex education more available, inclusive

(Planned Parenthood Arizona Facebook Photo)

PHOENIX — Multiple Arizona bills introduced this year would change the state’s sex education requirements in an effort to get more students into classes, and to make those classes more inclusive.

“Arizona kind of falls in the end in terms of sex education,” Tayler Tucker, Planned Parenthood media relations manager, told KTAR News 92.3 FM on Tuesday.

“There is no statewide mandate for sex ed in Arizona, so certain kids, depending on which district they live in, will get an hour, other kids will get nothing at all, and other students will get full programs, multi-day.”

Tucker said unlike many states, Arizona is an “opt-in” system, meaning parents must sign a waiver in order to place their children in sex education classes.

“A lot of times a lot of parents have no idea … and there end up being a lot of kids that miss out on critical sex ed, and then end up going to (college) and are suddenly confronted with a whole lot of growing up to do and little information except for myths they find on the internet,” Tucker said.

SB 1252 would change the state over to an “opt-out” system, where students receive sex education by default and are only removed from the class if a parent requests it.

It includes requirements for what those classes must cover, including discussion of contraception and healthy relationships, and stipulates that the classes must be age-appropriate and medically accurate.

Another concern for Arizona sex education is that students are not learning enough about HIV.

Many Arizona educators, including Superintendent of Public Instruction Kathy Hoffman, have said the current “no promo homo” law limits teachers’ ability to educate students about HIV.

SB 1415  would repeal this law, which prohibits sex education teachers from portraying homosexuality positively.

“Right now in Arizona, educators cannot mention LGBTQ lifestyles as positive and that there’s any way for them to engage in healthy sex,” Tucker said.

“A lot of students … are not learning about HIV prevention, and we have higher HIV rates — we currently have a syphilis outbreak happening in Arizona — we have all of these issues that we’re confronting, and they could be dealt with if more students and young people got sex education.”

Both bills are currently being reviewed in committee.

KTAR News 92.3 FM’s Ali Vetnar and Ashley Flood contributed to this report. 

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