On April 17th, Secular AZ joined a coalition of 19 other partners in signing the following letter to Governor Katie Hobbs. It requests vetoes of all legislation that targets LGBTQ+ youth and communities.
Hon. Katie Hobbs
1700 W. Washington St.
Phoenix, AZ 85007
VIA EMAIL ONLY
Re: Anti-LGBTQ+ Bills at Arizona State Legislature
Dear Governor Hobbs,
The undersigned advocates and organizations write today to request your continued support and leadership in protecting the human, civil, and constitutional rights of LGBTQIA+ Arizonans. Once again, our kids, neighbors, family-members and loved ones are experiencing vicious and harmful attacks from politicians at the Arizona legislature whose agenda of hate threatens the safety, well-being, and health of our communities. Republican leadership is currently moving a “slate of hate” which, when taken together, constitute an unhinged attempt to remove LGBTQIA+ people from public life.
Whether it is bans on drag performances, prohibitions on pronouns, censoring books, or direct assaults on the rights of trans persons to exist, these laws are fueled by the same hateful animus and prejudice that have harmed so many in the past and threaten to divide our communities moving forward. We call on you to continue to stand with LGBTQIA+ communities and supporters and veto all bills that target LGBTQIA+ people, women, people of color, the working class and others for discrimination, disparate treatment, and hate. The bills listed below constitute unconstitutional, illogical, and harmful hostility towards the LGBTQIA+ community and others. They are wrong for Arizona.
We hope you veto all these harmful bills.
Attacks on LGBTQ+ Youth
The 2023 legislative session has seen a continuation of the disturbing trend of legislators targeting LGBTQIA+ youth for discrimination, hate, and harms at the state Capitol. These attacks do enormous damage to the safety and well-being of LGBTQIA+ youth, even if the bills never get signed. The debates are often dehumanizing, and the Legislature routinely directs hostility and disrespect towards the minors, parents, and advocates who testify before them. These continued attacks should be beneath the Arizona legislature. Bills that target LGBTQIA+ youth violate both Title IX and the Constitution. Nearly every court to consider the issue has held that it is illegal to bar transgender youth from restrooms that align with their gender identity.i Policies that require teachers to misgender or out students also violate Title IX.ii Finally,
the First Amendment protects the right to share ideas, including the right of listeners to receive information and knowledge about the history and cultures of Indigenous communities, people of color, women, and LGBTQIA+ people.iii Studies show that equitable education can increase greater cultural understanding and awareness that helps to build empathy, affirm diversity, and foster greater connection between all students. We request you veto the following bills that target LGBTQIA+ youth:
- SB1001 (pronouns; biological sex; school policies): Prohibits trans and non-binary students from using pronouns or nicknames that correspond to their gender identity without written parental permission. SB1001 would remove the ability of trans children to be themselves in supportive, loving environments.
- SB1040 (public schools; restrooms; reasonable accommodations): Prohibits trans youth from using restrooms that correspond to their gender identity.
- SB1323 (schools; sexually explicit materials; classifications): Makes it a felony to refer students to any sexually explicit materials. The underlying law has already been used as a reason to censor the top 10 banned books in one Glendale school district.iv
- SB1700 (schools; school libraries; books; prohibition): Requires the removal of books from the school curriculum or library if a parent objects because the book promotes gender fluidity or gender pronouns or contains content the parent deems lewd or sexual in nature.
Attacks on LGBTQ+ Expression and Public Life
Several bills target the First Amendment rights of LGBTQIA+ people. These bills threaten businesses, libraries, performers, and the people they serve by putting the power to decide what’s appropriate in the hands of politicians. It’s a fundamental principle of our democracy that the government can’t discriminate against people — or silence them — based on the content of their speech. These laws do exactly that, baselessly and harmfully targeting LGBTQIA+ people based on prejudice, stereotypes, and harmful animus. When an advocate noted these bills may be inciting a moral
panic that harms the entire LGBTQIA+ community, Senate Judiciary Chair Anthony Kern responded, “We should be panicking morally. These people are after our kids.”v Such bigotry has no place in law. We all have a First Amendment right to express ourselves – on stage and off. Drag and gender nonconformity are forms of expression like any other. Dance, fashion, and music are all protected by the First Amendment. Bills like the ones below have a long history of hurtfully and pointlessly criminalizing LGBTQIA+ people, giving police permission to raid bars like Stonewall and arrest trans women for simply existing in public. The First Amendment guarantees a right to express yourself–including how you express your gender. Our differences should be appreciated, celebrated, and loved. We request that you veto the following bills that improperly target LGBTQIA+ persons in public life:
- SB 1026 (state monies; drag shows; minors): Bans drag time story hour in public libraries, schools, and other government run institutions.SB 1028 (adult cabaret performances; prohibited locations): Bans “adult cabaret performances” in public locations. Previous versions of the bill explicitly banned drag shows and gender fluid performances in public.
- SB 1030 (sexually explicit performances; regulation): Expands the number of businesses that may be defined as an adult-oriented business to include art galleries, bookstores, theaters if they have a performance the bill defines as “sexually explicit.” A previous version of the bill defined drag performances as sexually explicit.
- SB 1694 (public monies; ideology training; prohibition): Prohibits government agencies from requiring employees or contractors to participate in trainings that describe methods to “identify, dismantle or oppose structures, systems, relations of power, privilege or subordination on the basis of race, sex, color, gender, ethnicity, gender identity or sexual orientation” and programs that advance theories of “implicit bias,” “transgenderism,” “anti-racism,” “inequality,” “inclusive language,” “gender identity” or “racial or sexual privilege.”
- SB 1696 (sexually explicit materials; government; prohibition): Broadly defines, then
criminalizes, schools and other government institutions that provide “sexually explicit material” to persons under 18. SB1696 would make it illegal for a teacher to introduce students to a wide range of art, literature, and film. These laws have been used to censor LGBTQ artists and artists of color.
- SB 1698 (unlawful exposure; minors; sentencing; reporting): Broadly defines, then criminalizes, exposing minors to “adult oriented business” or “adult oriented performances.” A previous version of the bill defined any business that hosted a drag performance as an adult-oriented business. SB 1698 would make it illegal to take minors to the play Hairspray or the movie Thor: Love & Thunder.
- HB 2312 (women’s shelters; male employees; liability): May lead employers to discriminate against trans women based on sex in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act.vi We thank you for your leadership and support. We ask that you continue to stand with LGBTQIA+ communities and veto these bills that improperly target our children, families, neighbors, and loved ones with discrimination and hate. Together, we can build a welcoming and prosperous Arizona that recognizes the dignity and humanity of all people.
ACLU of Arizona
Arizona Center for Law in the Public Interest
Arizona Council of Human Service Providers
Children’s Action Alliance
Civic Engagement Beyond Voting
Civic Engagement Beyond Voting—Youth
Drag Story Hour Arizona
The Equality Squad
Human Rights Campaign
Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund
Planned Parenthood Advocates of Arizona
William E. Morris Institute for Justice
i “Supreme Court Allows Gavin Grimm’s Victory to Stand,” June 28, 2021, ACLU, online at
ii Department of Education, Notice of Interpretation of Title IX,
iii Students have a First Amendment right to receive information and ideas, a right that applies in the context of
school curriculum design. The right is infringed if the state “remove[s] materials otherwise available in a local
classroom.” Gonzalez v. Douglas, 269 F. Supp. 3d 948, 972 (D. Ariz. 2017). “The First Amendment forbids school
officials from removing materials from school libraries to further narrowly partisan, political, or racist ends.” Id. at
iv Sophia Browder, “GUHSD Removes ’10 Most Challenged Books in America’ from its Libraries,” January 27, 2023,
Viking Views, Sunnyslope High School, online at https://shsvikingviews.com/1422/features/guhsd-removes-10-
v Anthony Kern, Testimony on SB1030, House Government Committee, March 29, 2023 online at
vi See Bostock v. Clayton County, Georgia, No. 17-1618 (S. Ct. June 15, 2020).