By Jonathon Van Maren
The state of Arizona is currently considering Senate Bill 1700, a parental rights bill that would restrict the ability of teachers to disseminate sexually inappropriate texts to their students.
According to the Fact Sheet, the bill would:
Require the Arizona Department of Education (ADE) to maintain a list of books that public educational institutions may not use or make available to students, including books that are lewd or sexual, promote gender fluidity or gender pronouns or groom children into normalizing pedophilia. Grants parents the right to request removal of school district (district) or charter school library or classroom materials, extends public review periods for library materials and district textbooks and removes exceptions from district curriculum approval and school library access requirements.
The intent here is to ensure that educators cannot smuggle in ideological texts featuring sexually explicit or pornographic content and to create a mechanism for accountability to the parents who entrust their children to these educators. In recent years, parents have felt helpless in the face of a wave of LGBT indoctrination. This bill seeks to address that. After a hearing, SB 1700 was passed by the Senate Education Committee.
On the face of it, the bill should not be controversial. Read the wording – this is about a) preventing books that are “lewd or sexual” or “promote gender fluidity” or “groom children into normalizing pedophilia” and b) giving parents a process through which to raise objections to materials being presented to their children. Thus, for educators to get offended by SB 1700 is rather saying the quiet part out loud.
Speaking to the Senate Education Committee, that’s precisely what Arizona special education teacher Alicia Messing did. In Messing’s view, education is about socialization – and giving parents veto power over LGBT curricula contradicts that goal. In fact, Messing stated that parents are not qualified to determine what their children are taught.
“I have a masters’ degree because when I got certified, I was told I had to have a masters’ degree to be an Arizona-certified teacher,” she told the committee. “What do the parents have?” (Here one might reasonably respond: “The children.”)
She went on: “Are we vetting the backgrounds of our parents? Are we allowing the parents to choose the curriculum and the books that our children are going to read? I think that it’s a mistake, and I am just speaking from the heart.”