Sex education reform bill abruptly pulled from committee hearing

Sen. Sylvia Allen, R-Snowflake. Photo by Jerod MacDonald-Evoy | Arizona Mirror

A bill that would disallow Arizona students from discussing sex education until the seventh grade was pulled from the Senate Education Commitee by the bill’s sponsor, who heads the committee. 

Senate Bill 1082 is being sponsored by Sen. Sylvia Allen, R-Snowflake, who has being vocal about her opposition to sex education. In September, she told a conservative forum that schools are giving pornography to students and bragged about using her position as committee chair to block Democratic bills related to sex education. 

Allen did not respond to questions Tuesday about why she pulled the bill from consideration late Monday. The Associated Press reported that Senate President Karen Fann said Allen needs more time to hear from concerned parents. 

An additional Republican senator, Sonny Borrelli, was added to the committee on Monday, ostensibly to ensure the bill had enough votes to pass on Tuesday. The addition of Borrelli raised eyebrows from Allen’s Democratic committee seatmates. 

“Is this to ensure #SB1082 passes?” Sen. Martin Quezada, D-Glendale, said on Twitter about the addition. 

The bill has gained national media attention, and spawned a recent segment on The View

As introduced, the bill also forbids discussion of homosexuality during sex ed classes. 

However, Allen has said she will remove that language. 

Arizona law currently allows schools to develop “age-appropriate” sex education curriculum for students of all ages. Parents must opt-in to the classes. 

Allen’s bill would also mandate that students be taught that abstinence is “the expected standard conduct” and that instruction could not “normalize” sexual conduct between students. 

Parents would be allowed to review the learning materials for the classes and school districts would be required to get written permission from parents before their children can take sex education classes. 

Two public hearings would be required and any curriculum would need to be publicly available for at least 60 days before the governing board approves the classes. If the instruction is approved, the schools would be required to notify parents and make the materials available for review at least two weeks before classes begin. 

Parents would also be given the right to sue schools if the regulations on sex education are not followed.