On Pride

Intersectionality is at the heart of activism.

That’s why we’re taking this month to commemorate June 28, 1969 — the day police raided the Stonewall Inn, a New York meeting place for LGBTQ+ people. When police demanded to do “sex verification” checks on trans women, a spontaneous protest erupted — led by trans women of color like Sylvia Rivera and Marsha P. Johnson.

Stonewall is credited for igniting the struggle for LGBTQ+ rights in the U.S. Within weeks of the protests, the local community organized into activist groups focused on creating places for gay and trans people to be safely open about their identities. Within two years, gay rights groups were in every major American city.

Despite this rapid progress, LGBTQ+ people are still navigating a complicated network of systemic oppression and injustice. And in recent years, it’s gotten worse.

This June, a survey showed shocking rates of stigmatization exist today among LGBTQ+, as well as troublingly similar rates of negative outcomes like depression and suicidality.

Anti-LGBTQ+ resistance is notably rooted in religious attitudes, which are being politically weaponized to drive LGBTQ+ back into the shadows. Hundreds of discriminatory bills have blitzed state legislatures this year alone — some even laying the groundwork for modern “sex verifications” like the ones that incited Stonewall. (Take for example HB2706, requiring student athletes to “prove” their gender if accused of being trans.)

This year, 34 of the 70 bills on Secular AZ’s watch list pertained to topics impacting the LGBTQ+ community. Several were positive. Many others, however, were written to suppress LGBTQ+ identities in schools and civic life — essentially to recreate the conditions of erasure that led to Stonewall in the first place.

All this makes it more important than ever to amplify LGBTQ+ voices. That’s why this week we’re highlighting partner organization Equality Arizona (EQAZ). Our work simply wouldn’t be possible without this group of highly effective advocacy leaders. If you haven’t already, please give them a like, subscribe, or shout out.

Marsha P. Johnson once said, “You never completely have your rights, one person, until you have all your rights.” That includes the right to live according to your personal truth without fear of bullying, censure, or harm. Secular AZ, EQAZ, and countless others have one another’s backs in the fight to protect this right. We hope you’re in with us.

EQAZ Executive Director Michael Soto and activists at our intersectional demonstration against 2021 LGBTQ+ erasure bill SB1456.

Tell AZ lawmakers: stop reviving “no promo homo” already!

On the surface, HB2035 is “just” an attempt to limit access to sex education. It kicks every child in Arizona out of sex education without written permission, and bans teaching sex education at all before 5th grade.

Under the surface, HB2035 is even worse.

HB2035 is yet another attempt to re-institute “no promo homo” policies in schools, on par with SB1456 vetoed by the Governor last month. Its coded language would result in teachers being banned from discussing sexuality in any course other than sex education unless parents opt in.

This means that discussing the very existence of LGBTQ+ people in social studies, literature, and more would require a permission slip. This type of policy is meant to intimidate minority students and staff, and roll back progress AZ has made to reduce bullying and suicide among impacted groups.

Committee chairwoman Nancy Barto (R-15) said she consulted with stakeholders groups on HB2035, but only met with groups who supported HB2035 — and sprung a surprise hearing on everyone else that wanted to be involved.

Even without its discriminatory aspects, HB2035 is bad news for public health.For some young people school-based sex education is their only opportunity to receive this harm-reducing information. HB2035 risks eliminating it completely.

HB2035 is dangerous and goes against the wishes of an overwhelming majority of Arizonans (conservatives and liberals alike) who support both sex education and civil rights for all.

HB2035 is headed to a full floor vote in the State House. Join us in making new contacts with our own State Representatives to urge a NO on HB2035.