It took almost three decades, but a sex education law in Arizona that's been decried as homophobic and scientifically unreliable has been done away with. On Thursday, Republican Gov. Doug Ducey signed into law SB 1346, which includes an amendment that repeals an anti-LGBTQ sex education law in Arizona, KTAR News reported.
The Arizona state House voted 55-5 to pass the bill, and the state Senate furthered it on a 19-10 vote, according to KTAR News. The amendment in the legislation repeals a 1991 state law that forbade any educational curriculum from containing instruction about HIV and AIDS that "portrays homosexuality as a positive alternative lifestyle" or "suggests that some methods of sex are safe methods of homosexual sex," The Hill reported.
School districts in Arizona are now expected to deliver educational curriculum that will give "instruction on acquired immune deficiency syndrome and the human immunodeficiency virus to provide a description of the course curriculum for this instruction to all parents," according to the official text for the amendment.
Furthermore, such curriculum should be "medically accurate," "promote abstinence," "discourage drug abuse," and "dispel myths regarding the transmission of the human immunodeficiency virus."
On Twitter, Ducey praised the Arizona state legislature's efforts in passing the bill through its House and Senate chambers. "Just signed #SB1346," Ducey tweeted on Thursday. "Thank you @TJShopeforAZ for your leadership on this common sense solution, and for getting it done in a bipartisan manner."
The amendment also instructs school districts to allow the Department of Health Services or the Department of Education to evaluate the "medical accuracy" of their educational curricula. LGBTQ advocates and activists have hailed the amendment as a positive change for students in Arizona.
In a series of tweets, Superintendent of Public Instruction Kathy Hoffmann said repealing the law means students in the state will "no longer be denied access to medically accurate, science-based information regarding HIV/AIDS."
"More importantly," Hoffmann added, "after nearly three decades of this law placing stigma on our #LGBTQ community, the repeal sends a signal to every student, teacher, and family in Arizona that they are welcome in our schools, regardless of who they are and who they love."
Hoffmann went on to say on Twitter that the previous 1991 law created "discriminatory practices," adding that she was thankful for the Arizona state legislature for working on the bill and advancing it forward.
Advocacy groups, such as the LGBTQ civil rights organization known as Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund, have showered praise on Arizona's latest move. Members of Lambda Legal asserted in a statement that this amendment could even save the lives of students unfamiliar with the subject of HIV and AIDS.
Puneet Cheema, Lambda Legal's staff attorney said in a press release: "The writing was already on the wall, considering that the Arizona attorney general had already signaled they were not going to defend the law in court." Cheema added that, as a team, Lambda Legal was thrilled because the amendment would make it possible to teach "medically-accurate information that literally could save [LGBTQ students'] lives."