Christian nationalists want to drain money out of Phoenix school districts via lawsuit

The religious right seems to have exposed its latest strategy in Phoenix school boards: drain money out of public schools by attracting as many lawsuits as possible.

This is most apparent in Peoria Unified School District (PUSD), where we’ve counted 7 lawsuits that the district could face over constitutional violations, discrimination, and mistreatment of teachers.

Last week, members Rebecca Hill and Heather Rooks invited defamation lawsuits by entertaining accusations of misconduct levied against three teachers singled out by name. One was accused of showing vaguely-defined “sexually explicit” material (information about reproduction in a biology class); another for simply promoting International Transgender Day of Visibility.

Hill and Rooks tried to remove these teachers’ names from a rehire list under consideration at the meeting, then voted against approving the list altogether if they remained on it—effectively trying to hold 1,500 other employees’ contracts hostage.

Later, Hill and Rooks called for a policy to ban trans students from restrooms of their gender identity. Hill cited religious belief as justification, with no objective evidence of this being a problem that requires a solution through policy.

To cap it all off, Rooks once again illegally quoted scripture to students—despite having been advised several times not to.

That’s only part of the insanity at this meeting. Read about the whole thing in detail here.

Meanwhile, the north valley’s Washington Elementary School District (WESD) did the right thing a couple weeks ago by unanimously cancelling a contract with discriminatory religious school Arizona Christian University (ACU). The district is now being sued by ACU, but the public still has the district’s back, with lots of people (including a clergy member) speaking at last week’s meeting in support. There was also a tremendous outpouring of solidarity with board member Tamillia Valenzuela, who has been targeted by right-wing media over the issue because of her LGBTQ+ identity. Tamillia put the matter succinctly:

“Nobody on this board has stated that Christian teachers will no be allowed in this district. What has been said—because it appears that listening to actual words is not happening—is that an agreement with an institution that allows bigotry within its core values is what was terminated. There is a difference between institutional discrimination and personal discrimination. […] We are talking about an institution that has caused harm.”

WESD is a shining example of a place where voices like yours are making a huge difference in the fight for equality. Let’s keep board members in both districts hearing from us!

What you can do:

PUSD’s meeting schedule can be found here and board member contact info can be found here.

WESD’s meeting schedule can be found here and board member contact info can be found here.

Show up, contact members, and get involved. If we don’t, the religious right will!


If you need help, we’re here for you at

Secular Day 2023: Near the Capitol w/ Andrew Seidel and Barbra Seville

Calling all church:state separation supporters… it’s that time of year again!

That’s right, Secular Day at the Capitol is coming up on April 10! Every year, Arizonans gather from all over the state for this chance to meet your lawmakers and hear from special guest speakers. This year, we’re so pleased to welcome constitutional expert Andrew Seidel and drag sensation Barbra Seville!

This year, we’re doing things a bit differently. For reasons not yet known, the AZ Legislature has restricted citizens’ ability to organize events on the House and Senate lawns, as we’ve been doing for over a decade. But we won’t let that stop us — instead, we’re meeting near the Capitol at the Vig Fillmore restaurant. From 11am to 1pm, we’ll enjoy snacks, listen to speakers, help set appointments with your elected officials, and enjoy the company of other secular-minded Arizonans.

We’re hoping for a big turnout, since this event takes place on the heels of the Phoenix-based American Atheists Conference National Convention April 6th-9th.

Space is limited and an RSVP is required – please click here for more details and to reserve your spot.

We’re not charging for this event, but if you are able to make a donation to help us cover catering and speaker costs, we would be very grateful! 

Action Alert: Protest Against Anti-Drag Bills

Three state bills under consideration target drag performers, including:

  • SB1026, banning the state from using public money for performances that include drag (which would extend to school performances of plays like Rent)
  • SB1028, limiting adult cabaret performances and locations where they can be held
  • SB1030, a series of regulations on such matters as the hours of operation and facilities that can perform drag show

Join the protest on January 22nd 1pm at the Arizona State Capitol Lawns–1700 W Washington Phoenix, AZ. 

See more details including volunteer opportunities in the flyers below.
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What connects evangelicals to QAnon?

Secular AZ recently sat down with Dr. Mia Bloom, author of Pastels and Pedophiles: Inside the Mind of QAnon to talk conspiracy theories in Christian socio-political movements. (Watch the full talk here.)

The conversation illuminated not-always-obvious connections between conspiracy theory culture and religious belief—as well as racism, mental illness, and more. Her conclusions illustrated that separating church and state is becoming an increasingly intersectional issue. Continue reading