GOP bill would require Arizona teachers to send LGBTQ students to parents

Jerod MacDonald-Evoy

Arizona Mirror

Arizona Republicans lined up this week behind a measure that would discipline teachers and expose them to lawsuits if they don’t tell parents everything a student tells them, even if the student confides they’re is gay or transgender.

The legislation, House Bill 2161, would make it illegal for a government employee to withhold information “relevant to the physical, emotional or mental health of the parent’s child”, and specifically prevent teachers from withholding information about the “purported identity gender” of a student. or a request to transition to a gender other than the student’s biological sex.

The bill would allow parents to sue school districts if teachers fail to comply.

Rep. Steve Kaiser, R-Phoenix, sponsor of the bill, argued before the House Education Committee on Jan. 25 that the purpose of the legislation was to reign in polls sent in by schools that made headlines in a number of states and locally. The bill also aims to allow parents additional access to certain medical records.

“I still think this bill isn’t ready for prime time,” said Rep. Daniel Hernandez, D-Tucson, adding that he felt there was some merit in what the schools survey students. “This bill could have been made without this inclusion or trivialization of transgender children.”

Far-right groups

Kaiser initially said the bill was created through a “group of stakeholders” and his “own inherent passion” for the issue. But when Hernandez pressed him on the stakeholders involved in drafting the bill, Kaiser admitted he hadn’t worked with education groups or teachers, but with anti-LGBTQ advocacy groups. – the main of which is the Center for Arizona Policy, a conservative Christian lobbying organization. which has pushed numerous controversial and bigoted bills since its formation in 1995. The CAP dominates most Republican lawmakers and Gov. Doug Ducey, and is widely considered one of the most powerful lobby groups on Capitol Hill. ‘State.

“I know you have a long-standing (dislike) for this organization. I understand where the bait was in that question,” Kaiser told Hernandez, who is gay. I would go, because they would be against it.”

Another stakeholder Kaiser has consulted with is Family Watch International, which the Southern Poverty Law Center has designated as an anti-LGBTQ hate group. This group also has its fingerprints on another bill that would ban any books with “sexually explicit” content and which critics say would effectively make teaching about homosexuality illegal.

Supporters of the bill said it was necessary to punish teachers in order to bring transparency to schools, who they say are asking “inappropriate questions”. Some said the $500 fine for school districts in the language of the bill wasn’t significant enough, a thought echoed by Rep. John Fillmore, R-Apache Junction, who said it was a “drop in the ocean” for a school district and asked Kaiser if he would agree to increase the amount.

Jeanne Casteen, executive director of the Arizona Secular Coalition and former teacher, was concerned about the impact of the bill’s reporting function on child abuse. Teachers are required reporters, and Casteen said whenever she had to report child abuse, it was inflicted by a parent. Under Kaiser’s bill, she said, a teacher would also have to tell parents — the likely abusers — that the child told them about the abuse.

“I keep hearing about parental rights, but what about the rights of these students? Casteen said.

One of the speakers on the other side was Nicole Eidson with a parent group called “Moms for Liberty” known for attend Chandler Unified School District meetings and complain about alleged racism education and training.

“I’ve heard a lot that children have rights, but in my house I have to say it’s a dictatorship,” Eidson said, adding that schools “have no right” to offer what is “right” for her. do in his house.

Although the bill authorized the committee along party lines with Republican support, Rep. Joel John, R-Arlington, acknowledged that there may be situations where a student may be more comfortable confide in your teacher than in a parent.

John said Kaiser will have to push for changes to the bill, especially issues relating to outgoing students, if he wants his continued support.

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