Gov. Doug Ducey signed an education transparency bill requiring public and charter schools to allow parents to opt their child into sex education and prohibiting sex education before fifth grade.
“Parents should have the right to know what their children are learning in school,” Ducey said in a press release. “This is a no-brainer piece of legislation that protects our children from learning materials that aren’t suited for them. Every family has their own priorities for their children’s education, and parents should get to weigh in.”
Signed Friday, House Bill 2035 codified Executive Order 2021-11 as law. It directs Arizona’s board of Education to include a public review and comment process for sex education curricula and requires the posting of curricula for parental review at least two weeks before instruction. Additionally, the bill prohibits sex education for students in kindergarten through fourth grade.
The bill requires that public schools receive a signed, written consent form before providing sex education. Previously, parents could opt their child out of such instruction, but HB 2035 allows parents to opt their child in. Each school district may develop its own curricula.
Ducey vetoed SB 1456 earlier in the session due to concerns that the bill was “overly broad and vague,” thus threatening child abuse prevention instruction for “at risk and vulnerable children.” HB 2035 clarifies that such prevention instruction may be taught without restrictions.
Arizona joins only four other states with opt-in sex education policies. The bill passed both the House and the Senate along party lines.
Cathi Herrod, Director of Center for Arizona Policy, a self-described pro-family nonprofit, said in a statement that Ducey’s signature “sends a clear message that parents are in charge of their children’s education and upbringing, and they should be privy to sexuality-related curriculum.”
Opponents of the bill say that it harms LGBTQ students, criticizing its requirement for parents to opt-in their child to history lessons related to sexuality.
School districts and charter school must review their existing sex education curricula and comply with new requirements by Dec. 15, 2021.
Ducey thanked bill sponsors Sen. Nancy Barto, R-Phoenix, and Rep. Gail Griffin, R-Hereford, for their leadership.
“It is critical that we protect families from overreaching education boards,” Barto said. “Transparency and parental involvement are always the best policy. And for our education system, it is critical policy.”