FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 24, 2021
PHOENIX – Representative César Chávez, Chairman of the Arizona LGBTQ Legislative Caucus, spoke out against a pair of bills that moved through House committees today that target and will increase discrimination against the LGBTQ community if they become law.
Senate Bill 1456 sponsored by Sen. Nancy Barto, which passed along party lines today in the House Judiciary Committee, would require parents of students to opt-in to sex education curriculum and any instruction involving gender identity, gender expression or sexuality. Then a strike-everything amendment to Sen. Vince Leach's Senate Bill 1269 by House Criminal Justice Reform Committee Chairman Walt Blackman reignited a stalled effort to prevent Arizona communities from banning harmful and discredited "conversion therapy" for those who identify as LGBTQ. Blackman's amendment – which passed on party lines -- called for a wide-ranging prohibition on state regulation of health profession, but Chávez and LGBTQ members of the public who testified said the bill was really aimed at clearing the way for harmful and unethical "conversion" therapists.
"In 2019 the Arizona Legislature took a big step into the 21st Century when Democrats and Republicans in the House voted 55-9 to repeal Arizona's discriminatory 'No Promo Homo' law that demeaned and dismissed LGBTQ youth in our schools for decades," said Chávez, D-Phoenix. "Today some of those same members put that progress into reverse. With Senate Bill 1456, instead of working on legislation to accept and promote empathy towards a population, we are confronted with legislation that does nothing more than discriminate and assumes that a certain population is taboo or immoral. It is appalling that my identification and who I am would be deemed immoral. And finally, sexual orientation is not a choice. Conversion therapy is dangerous, widely discredited and only harms youth or anyone who is subjected to it. Using a strike-everything amendment to try and hamstring any regulatory control over a practice that is a proven danger to the public is reprehensible."