Until a few days ago, Arizona was one of seven states with “no promo homo” laws on the books, which prevented the teaching of topics related to sexual orientation or gender identity in schools. Arizona’s law prohibited school districts from teaching anything that “promotes a homosexual life-style,” “portrays homosexuality as a positive alternative life-style,” or “suggests that some methods of sex are safe methods of homosexual sex.” In other words, teachers weren’t allowed to teach any accurate information relevant to the lives of LGBTQ students.
Last month, however, LGBTQ advocates, including Lambda Legal and the National Center For Lesbian Rights sued the state, arguing that the law was discriminatory and prevented students from receiving medically accurate information. Lambda Legal Staff Attorney Puneet Cheema said in a statement when the suit was filed that Arizona was “stigmatizing and demeaning LGBTQ students and preventing them from getting medically-accurate information that literally could save their lives.”
Now, Arizona has voluntarily repealed the law instead of continuing the litigation. Just weeks after the lawsuit was filed, the state’s governor Doug Ducey signed the repeal into law after it sped through the state’s House of Representatives and State Senate. Repealing the law was a bipartisan victory, with Republicans and Democrats coming together to largely support the repeal.
In a statement, one Republican representative, TJ Shope, said, “I was proud to be a part of a positive effort to change Arizona law in order to make all students feel more welcomed in Arizona’s classrooms. We have not only moved our state forward, we have also saved our state’s taxpayers countless amounts of dollars defending the indefensible.”
The legal team challenging the law is excited by the development. National Center for Lesbian Rights Senior Staff Attorney Julie Wilensky said in a statement that “a full repeal is an amazing development, as it removes the harmful and discriminatory language that we specifically challenged in the lawsuit. We are grateful to the leadership of Arizonans who have been advocating for many years on this issue.”