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Arizona Senate Bill Would Ban Sex Ed Until Seventh Grade

The Arizona Legislature begins its 2020 session today. KNAU’s Ryan Heinsius reports, a bill addressing how sex education is taught in the state is among the first to be considered by the Education Committee.  

The bill is sponsored by Snowflake Republican Sen. Sylvia Allen. It would ban sex education for all Arizona students until seventh grade. It would also subject sex-ed curriculum to a 60-day review and two public hearings. Allen, who chairs the Education Committee, says the bill is a response to groups including Planned Parenthood that want to enact comprehensive sex ed in the state.

"Parents do not want their young children being involved with information that they’re not ready to use. They’re not emotionally, physically ready to use some of this sex-education material and so why would we teach it?" says Allen. 

The bill also reinforces Arizona’s longstanding focus on abstinence in sex ed, but it still allows health and safety classes for K-through-sixth-grade students.

Allen also says she’ll remove one part of the bill that deleted the word “homosexual” from a section defining sexual conduct. Some LGBTQ activists and others worried it would prevent teachers from discussing homosexuality during sex ed instruction.

A spokesperson with Planned Parenthood Arizona says Allen’s bill is out of touch and puts children in danger. They also say accurate and age-appropriate sex ed helps keep children heathy and can prevent sexual abuse.

School districts and charters in Arizona determine sex-ed curriculum, but parents can opt their children out.

Ryan Heinsius joined the KNAU newsroom as executive producer in 2013 and was named news director and managing editor in 2024. As a reporter, he has covered a broad range of stories from local, state and tribal politics to education, economy, energy and public lands issues, and frequently interviews internationally known and regional musicians. Ryan is an Edward R. Murrow Award winner and a Public Media Journalists Association Award winner, and a frequent contributor to NPR's Morning Edition, All Things Considered and national newscast.
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