Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey approved Republican Rep. Jake Hoffman’s proposed House Bill 2495 on July 6 and it went into effect this weekend. That means that public schools in the state can no longer use pornographic material in children’s classrooms.
That seems like a no-brainer.
But there are opponents to the bill that believe preventing children from seeing works depicting sodomy, masturbation, oral sex, and other sex acts have censored “LGBTQ+ stories.”
The law prohibits children’s use of or referral to textual, visual, or audio materials that contain graphic depictions — literal or simulated — of sexual conduct, sexual excitement, or sexual acts (e.g., normal sex, sodomy, and masturbation).
The bill also states that materials can be exempted if they contain serious educational value for minors or possess serious literary, artistic, political, or scientific value. Exempted material can be used and referenced on the condition that the school obtains parental consent in advance.
Most supporters of the bill characterized the effort as one against the sexualization of minors, but Democratic state Rep. Daniel Hernandez thought otherwise. He said that the law would be an end to the promotion of a “homosexual lifestyle” and a resuscitation of the so-called “no promo homo” law which was repealed in 2019.
The gay and transsexual activist group Equality Arizona condemned the law, suggesting it pares “education down to nothing more than ‘reading, writing, and arithmetic’.”
One of the group’s members, activist Gaelle Esposito, stated: “We’re very concerned about the impact that this … would have on teachers and students who are trying to access new materials that reflect their perspective.”
He noted further that “It’s unclear what the consequences are for a teacher that violates the statute and what they may face.”
Jeanne Casteen, executive director of Secular AZ, declared that the law’s prohibition of pornography in schools was a “whitewashing of literature.” She went further to describe what would be lost when they could not share books containing characters navigating their sexuality with students, “when the magic really happens.”
Wow…it seems like the right call for Arizona.