PHOENIX – State lawmakers are one step closer to passing a bill that would require parents to give written permission for children to discuss sex and gender identity in the classroom and ban any formal sex education – including AIDS instruction – before the fifth grade.
The bill’s sponsor, state Sen. Nancy Barto, R-Phoenix, calls Senate Bill 1456 “a parents’ rights bill.”
“Parents should not have to worry about what schools are teaching their children about human sexuality,” she said in an email. “Too often parents learn after the fact that explicit or controversial materials were presented without their knowledge or consent.”
However, opponents call the measure a dangerous move backward.
“It’s going to impact the ability of teachers to talk about a wide range of issues that impact all students,” said Sen. Martín Quezada, D-Phoenix. Bills like this, he added, “do more harm than they do good to our kids.”
SB 1456 has moved through the Legislature along party lines – finding staunch Republican support and fierce criticism from Democrats. The bill passed the Senate 16-14, and a House committee gave its approval on March 24. The measure now goes to the full House, where Republicans hold a 31-29 majority, for consideration.
Arizona schools are not legally required to teach sex education; school districts usually make those decisions, and parents can opt out of the instruction for their children.
Deadname Wash, a new compilation of electronic music, is raising funds for rent relief for transgender people. The album’s 13 songs were composed by musicians throughout Arizona, including multiple Tucson artists like Flor de Nopal, Kell, jaeki and Lav Andula.
The music on the album ranges from pop to post-punk to dance music, but all keep a foot in the realm of electronic music, and all songs are written by members of the queer community.
While the opening track "Isn't it Too Dreamy?" starts the compilation off with a dark and rhythmic track similar to The Cure, the album varies greatly, with “When” being more upbeat, and the lo-fi “i hear it gets better” in a mellower vein.
Deadname Wash is currently available as “name your price” on bandcamp, so you can support the cause with your purchase, or listen for free. For more information, visit deadname-wash.bandcamp.com
PHOENIX – Reminders to stay connected and reach out to loved ones have been constant during the pandemic. However, as shutdowns and quarantines continued, the safety precautions worsened a long-term issue for LGBTQ seniors – loneliness.
It’s a feeling Lavina Tomer, executive director of Southern Arizona Senior Pride in Tucson, knows all too well.
“In terms of isolation and loneliness – that’s something that we’ve all lived with, with varying degrees at certain times,” she said.
Tomer was just 23 in the 1970s when she came out as a lesbian to her Lebanese-American family of six on the East Coast. The reaction from her religious family was mixed. Although a few were supportive, others were upset and chose to ignore her sexuality.
At church, coming out was traumatic and difficult for Tomer.
“It caused such a big issue that people began to treat me differently,” she recalled. “The minister was not willing to support me. So I chose to leave the church because I felt people were not ready to welcome me in my authenticity.”
WASHINGTON – The House voted Thursday to expand civil rights protections to include sexual orientation, gender identity and pregnancy, a move supporters said will grant those groups “the full equality under the law they deserve.”
But critics of the Equality Act blasted it as a measure that will trample on religious freedom and individual rights, and ultimately backfire on the people it aims to protect.
The 224-206 vote fell mostly on party lines, with just three Republicans joining all Democrats to support the bill. Many Republicans were like Rep. Andy Biggs, R-Gilbert, who derided the bill as the “inequality act.”
“While it attacks religious freedom, freedom of expression, and freedom of association, all-important rights recognized in the first amendment, it doesn’t stop there,” Biggs said during a Freedom Caucus news conference before the vote. “It also denies the biological facts that men and women are the two genders.”
But Rep. Greg Stanton, D-Phoenix, said the bill is needed because in too many places in the U.S. “discrimination is still permitted under the law.”
“Everyone deserves equal treatment under the law, no matter who they are, who they love, or how they express themselves,” Stanton said during debate on the House floor.
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