Arizona Sued Over Ban on HIV/AIDS Education

Superintendent Kathy Hoffman is one of the people backing the lawsuit to lift the ban on HIV/AIDS education. Image via Jackie Hai from KJZZ.org.

LGBTQ groups in Arizona have filed a lawsuit against the state asking that a federal judge strike down a ban on HIV/AIDS instruction as state law dictates that teaching about such things promotes a “homosexual lifestyle” according to K Tar News.

Setting aside that there is no homosexual lifestyle, Lambda Legal and the National Center for Lesbian Rights in U.S. District Court filed the lawsuit because the 1991 law that bans HIV/AIDS instruction may be unconstitutional as it discriminates and prevents equal opportunity for LGBTQ students. They also allege that the law says that homosexuality can only be discussed negatively and that “there is something so undesirable, shameful, or controversial about `homosexuality’ that any positive portrayals of LGBTQ people or same-sex relationships must be explicitly barred.” My analysis of that ridiculous statement: that Arizona lawmakers believed, and may still believe, that talking about homosexuality can turn people gay which is just not true. I’ve seen countless displays of straight affection and I’m still a ‘mo, so talking about any sexuality won’t magically make someone be attracted to the sex that they weren’t already attracted to.

Adding to the ridiculousness, Arizona state law prohibits the teaching about HIV/AIDS because it may… promote a homosexual lifestyle, that it “portrays homosexuality as a positive alternative lifestyle,” and that it “suggests that some methods of sex are safe methods of homosexual sex.” That implies three things:

  1. That only gay people can get HIV and
  2. That being gay is somehow a bad thing.
  3. Gay sex can’t be safe.

By refusing to teach students about HIV/AIDS safety is not only putting LGBTQ students in danger because HIV is obviously a very dangerous virus that anyone can contract regardless of sexuality and not only through sexual contact. Arizona is operating on the outdated belief that HIV/AIDS is a gay virus/disease. Kathy Hoffman, the Superintendent of Public Instruction, and the Board of Education were named as defendants and Hoffman said that she welcomes that opportunities to educate students on HIV/AIDS awareness. However, her spokesman Stefan Swiat said that she has no plans to defend the lawsuit at the time.

This antiquated law only serves to ostracize LGBTQ people and make people believe that there is something inherently wrong with being gay and it perpetuates the myth that AIDS is a gay disease. It is my hope that Lambda Legal and the National Center for Lesbian Rights have a strong case in speaking out against this law because it is extremely damaging to LGBTQ citizens of Arizona.

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h/t: K Tar News

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