The state’s GOP-led legislature advanced a bill last week that would ban schools from using books that include sex acts or references to homosexuality. A second bill would require school libraries to get approval for books on their shelves.
HB 2495, a bill introduced by Republican lawmaker Jake Hoffman, would make it illegal for schools to include any material in their curriculums that include sexual conduct, suggest “sexual stimulation or arousal,” or feature any acts of homosexuality–a broadly written inclusion which advocates worry could make any mention or teaching of the LGBT community illegal.
The Arizona Association of School Administrators has criticized the bill over its inclusion of homosexuality as an “explicit” subject and Rebecca Beebe, a lobbyist for the group, pointed out that state law already prevents schools from showing explicit images or sexual acts to children.
An amendment to Hoffman’s bill would allow schools to use such material if it is a piece of classical literature, early American literature, or is a required book for a course to receive college credit–but only if they also get parental consent. The bill passed out of the House Education Committee on a 6-4 party-line vote on Tuesday, with all Republicans in favor and all Democrats opposed.
Republican Rep. Beverly Pingerelli’s HB 2439 also emerged out of the committee after a 6-4 vote. Her bill would require school district governing boards to approve all books in a school’s library. It also mandates that all books being considered for libraries be made available for a public review for at least 60 days and that parents be notified of the public review periods and books being considered.
Both bills will now go up for votes before the full state House of Representatives. The Arizona GOP’s efforts come as Republicans across the country have engaged in a quest to ban books, censor ideas, and otherwise limit how schools can educate children. In Tennessee this week, a school district drew severe backlash after banningMaus, a graphic novel about the Holocaust, because of “rough” language and a naked drawing of a female.
If the Arizona bills pass, the Copper state could be next and a whole host of books–Romeo and Juliet, 1984–might be on the chopping block. Notably, if the letter of the law were to be followed even the bible could be in danger. Yes, the bible. It features scenes of incest, rape, and murder, as Iowa-based writer Lyz Lenzl pointed out on Friday.
“In the book this guy named Lot offers his daughters up to be gang raped. Then, later, they have sex with him to preserve the line of succession,” Lenzl wrote. “There is also mass genocide ordered by God. And in fact, one guy, Saul, gets in trouble with God for not being as murdery as God told him to be. Then, there was the time King David raped a woman, and he also offered his daughter up to be raped by his son.”
Arizona Republicans’ extreme agenda doesn’t end there. The same Republicans on the same committee also voted this week to dramatically limit how teachers can teach about racism and approved a bill that would force teachers to out gay students to their parents if the child had come to them seeking advice.