Let’s Make a Stand About Public Education!

A quartet of religious right bills undercutting public education is getting close to law… but there is still time to make a difference.

SB1657 and SB1707 would once again expand the state’s Empowerment Scholarship Account (tuition voucher) program, which sucks money out of public schools and redistributes it to wealthy families and ineffective private (and religious) schools.

HB2495 is an old-fashioned book ban. It prohibits schools from using nearly any book mentioning any facet of human sexuality, even the most trivial. This would have the effect of censoring materials teaching about healthy relationships, human biology, and LGBTQ+ issues. It would also be used to stifle access to meaningful literature of all types—especially that which does not conform to white Christian nationalist viewpoints.

SB1269 is a rushed 101-page “striker” bill reshaping our school funding system so that the poorest schools would actually receive less money, while charters and well-off schools get more.

These bills are all headed for final floor votes. If they pass, the next stop is the Governor’s desk.

Here’s what you can do about them:

  1. Contact your own Representative about these bills. Use our form below or look up their contact info here.
  2. Share this alert with friends!

When it comes to education, the majority of Arizonans are on our side. Let’s make sure they hear from all of us!

Take action!

Speak Out: Anti-LGBTQ+ Youth Bills and Abortion Ban in Committee

Four big Christian nationalist bills are scheduled for a second round of committee hearings next week:

  • HB2161 – effectively requiring healthcare providers and schools to “out” LGBTQ+ youth to their parents
  • SB1165 – banning transgender female students from participating in girls’/women’s sports teams
  • SB1138 – banning gender reassignment surgery for all people under 18
  • SB1164 – a ban on all abortions past 15 weeks gestation

Data has shown time and again that when young LGBTQ+ people have their identities affirmed in a positive way, rates of depression, suicide, and other negative outcomes go down. Bills subjecting them to erasure, stigma, and unwanted exposure effectively single them out for harm.

And we probably don’t need to tell you everything that’s wrong with the abortion ban.

The first bill is in Senate Education Committee on Tuesday and the other three are in House Judiciary on Wednesday. Here’s what you can do about them:

  1. Contact committee members with just a few clicks using our action form here.
  2. If you are a Request to Speak user, sign in against these bills before Tuesday.

CONTACT LAWMAKERS NOW

Oppose Coercion and “Separate But Equal” in Schools

AZ’s House Education Committee will hear two bills creating an atmosphere of coercion and discrimination in schools:

HB2707 unconstitutionally requires teachers to lead the Pledge of Allegiance and two-minutes of “silent reflection” (i.e. prayer time) in classrooms.

HB2314 creates a discriminatory “separate-but-equal” system for gendered school bathrooms and other accommodations. It also opens non-cisgender students up to unwanted attention and embarrassment by forcing them to make written requests to use facilities matching their gender identity.

Bonds of trust between parents, kids, and their teachers are key to educational success. Kids need to feel like they can trust the adults in their lives to have their best interests in mind—not to foster atmospheres of religious indoctrination or discrimination.

Here’s what you can do right now about these bills:

  1. Use our action alert form to read more and contact committee members
  2. If you are a Request to Speak user, sign in against these bills before Tuesday morning.
  3. RSVP for Secular Day at the Capitol where we will rally and lobby with lawmakers against bills like these

TAKE ACTION NOW

 

Have more time for action?

The parade of anti-democracy bills and other rights violations impacting us all continues. If you’re ready to really dig in, click here for the complete list of bill numbers you can sign in against through Request to Speak or call committee members about this week.

Thank you so much for your commitment and passion.

-The Secular AZ Team

Oppose the Most Sweeping Religious Exemptions Bill EVER

On Wednesday 2/9, legislators will hear a bill making religious services so “essential” that religious concerns would be placed above all others in public life. Always.

HB2507 is worded in such a way as to disguise itself as a bill about public emergencies, but it’s secretly an amendment to Arizona’s Civil Rights Act that would apply at all times.

Here’s a quick breakdown of how it works:

  • Adds to Civil Rights code language forbidding the state and local governments from “discriminating” against religion
  • Defines “discrimination” as “any direct or indirect act or practice that adversely affects a religious organization.”
  • Defines “religious organization” not just as a church, but also corporations and clubs.
  • Requires the state to demonstrate “a compelling interest” just to enforce neutral health or safety acts, and administer the “least restrictive” corrections.

What this boils down to is that if any group claiming to be religious—from major hospitals to adoption agencies to the KKK—doesn’t like a restriction, they can shrug it off.

Religious privileges would trump all non-discrimination ordinances.

Health codes and child protection laws would become harder to enforce with softer penalties for religious groups.

And groups could ignore any emergency restriction they don’t like, including but not limited to mask and vaccine mandates, pandemic closures… etc,. etc.

So here’s what you can do about it:

  1. Contact members of the House Judiciary Committee before Wednesday at 9am. Use our automatic emailer here  (or see their phone numbers in this article).
  2. If you’re a Request to Speak user, sign in against this bill. (Be patient—the RTS system is moving very slowly!)

Oppose Harmful Anti-LGBTQ Youth Bills

The AZ House Judiciary Committee will hear bills tomorrow at 9:00 putting kids lives, safety, and well-being at risk:

  • SB1130 – making it a class 4 felony (akin to attempted murder) for doctors to prescribe—or simply “cause”—gender-affirming care for people under 18. This would ban doctors from recommending hormone therapy, puberty blockers, or even recommending the adoption of new clothes or pronouns.
  • SB1049 – letting parents or the AG to sue if they feel a school employee violated the “Parent’s Bill of Rights.” This means instances when parents feel their rights to religious indoctrination have been violated— for example, if a teacher affirms a kid’s LGBTQ+ identity.

Both bills would cut kids off from care and intervention proven to reduce their risk of suicide, drug and alcohol addiction, for the sake of hate and religious politics.

Here’s what you can do:

  1. Use our web form to read more and contact committee members before tomorrow at 9am.
  2. If you are a Request to Speak user, sign in against the above bills.
  3. Contact us if you can testify live in Senate Judiciary committee tomorrow at 9am.

TAKE ACTION NOW

child silenced by abuse

Speak Out on Insidious “Parental Rights” Bills

We’ll cut to the chase about what we’re facing at the Legislature this year: an onslaught of bills designed to kill public education; oppress minorities; curb critical thought in schools; and politically entrench the extreme religious right.

A major conservative theme this year is “parental rights – bills designed to suppress freedom of thought, identity, and reproductive choice among youth, and to push adults who support these freedoms out of schools and government.

Four such bills—SB1015, HB2161, HB2439, and HB2495—are headed to committee starting Tuesday.

Respectively, these bills eliminate medical confidentiality protections for minors; require schools to disclose information about students’ gender identities; and ban books that mention sexuality or race.

Here’s what you can do about them:

  1. Use our web form to read more and contact committee members.
  2. If you are a Request to Speak user, sign in against the above bills.
  3. Contact us if you can testify live the Capitol Tuesday or Wednesday.

TAKE ACTION NOW

The Startling Truth About Religious Refusals: What Your Healthcare Providers Aren’t Telling You

The intersection of law, medicine and so-called “morality” in the U.S. healthcare system poses a serious threat to patients’ access to healthcare and information. That’s the overarching message sent by a panel of experts in medicine and law we convened in December of 2021. As part of our annual Secular Summit event, Secular AZ organized a discussion on refusals of service based on religious beliefs, featuring the following experts and moderated by Secular AZ Legal Director Dianne Post:

  • Atsuko Koyama, MD, MPH, Clinical Asst Professor University of AZ, COM, Creighton University; Dpt of Child Health and Emergency Medicine, Valleywise Health Medical Center
  • Professor Elizabeth Sepper, Professor of Law at the University of Texas at Austin
  • Dr. DeShawn Taylor, MD, MSc, FACOG, board-certified OB/GYN, clinical professor, and owner of Desert Star Family Planning in Phoenix

You can see the full video here. Let’s summarize what these experts working in the fields of medicine and law have to say about how refusals of service based on religious beliefs affect patients.

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