When they came for the teachers.

A forthcoming bill aimed to target “groomers” might restrict sex education. Here’s how.

In this week's newsletter: Advocates warn how a new bill could upend sex education in the state; LOOKOUT Magazine's third issue is now available; Remembering Randy Shilts; Fourteen queer-owned places to visit in Phoenix and Tucson; And a new In-Queer-sitive game for the week!

DOG WHISTLES: At the beginning of the legislative session, LGBTQ+ advocates raised concerns about a bill sponsored by Rep. Travis Grantham, a Gilbert Republican who has long voted alongside far-right house members, including in anti-LGBTQ+ bills.

His bill, HB2310, was originally labeled an "anti-grooming" bill aiming to codify the term "grooming" as the distribution of sexual materials to a minor as a felony—something that already existed—but with harsher penalties for teachers or school staff.

The bill was inspired by a young woman's story of how a school coach lured her into an assault. She told lawmakers she still has not received justice against her attacker.

The term "grooming," though, holds a very specific meaning for lawmakers who Grantham promotes: almost always it's directed at LGBTQ+ people.

Educators took notice, especially since there were a handful of other bills this legislative session aimed to further limit public education on gender and sex. Still, with a number of amendments made to the law such as removing the word "grooming" from the bill and putting in protections for medical workers—done with the guidance of the governor's office—the bill was eventually passed and signed by Gov. Katie Hobbs last month.

But community advocates told us that the bill is still vague enough to be weaponized, and when they tried to sound the alarm, no one at the governor's office took their concerns seriously. Now, they say the bill gives a green light for far-right agitators to use the bill against teachers and librarians.

LOOKOUT'S TAKE: This has been a controversial bill from the start: Nobody in the community wanted to stand against an "anti-grooming" bill (the optics could look as if they might be "pro-grooming").

That shifted, though, in April when House Speaker Ben Toma called a drag storytelling event in the Capitol basement "perverse." Soon after, Sen. Anthony Kern (R-Glendale) went on a white nationalist talk show where the host alluded Toma to be a "groomer," himself. And then came the flood of social media comments saying that police should be called because children were being "sexualized" by an educational book about LGBTQ+ kids.

After those accusations were thrown around, advocates in the community started to worry about all the possible scenarios of HB2310, which makes it a felony to distribute materials that could "entice" a child: if a parent saw something they disagreed with, could they call the police on that teacher; if a police officer held those same beliefs, could they arrest the instructor; if the prosecutor held anti-LGBTQ+ beliefs, could they push through a criminal charge?

The answer is: maybe.

But even if the answer was "highly unlikely," community leaders still worry because the bill offers no guardrails to stop the legal implications from happening once they start.


🌵 LOCAL NEWS

  • LOOKOUT MAG: Our latest issue of LOOKOUT Magazine is printed and available! Have a recommendation on where we should place them for the community? Reply back to this email with your ideas. And don't forget, paid subscribers and recurring annual donors get a copy mailed to their home.
  • ABORTION ACCESS: The abortion ban repeal was passed, but Arizona for Abortion Access continues to push for a more comprehensive and lenient law, with the help of hundreds of medical professionals. Arizona Mirror
  • TUCSON'S BEST QUEER SPOTS: Instagram influencer account EverywhereisQueer created a handy list of the seven best queer-owned spots to visit in Tucson this Pride month. Instagram
  • PHOENIX'S BEST, TOO: And here are the seven queer-owned spots that Phoenix Magazine flagged you should be heading to this month. Phoenix Magazine

🇺🇸 NATIONAL NEWS

  • FREE SPEECH?: After revoking the license for a hate group's event in Fort Worth, Texas, the city reinstated their ability to host a "Protect Kids" event that discussed "the impact of LGBT ideology, the social contagion of transgenderism, and the dangers of pornography." Fort Worth Report
  • RECORDED: In a secretly recorded conversation with U.S. Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito Jr.'s wife, she complained about her neighbors hanging a Pride flag, and wanted to fly a Sacred Heart of Jesus flag in retort. New York Times
  • GODLESS: A member of Colorado's GOP said in a leaked email to all the caucus that LGBTQ+ people were "Godless," used an image that said "God hates Flags," and then urged people to burn all Pride flags. Denver Post
  • REMEMBER RANDY: CBS-affiliate KPIX paid homage to Randy Shilts, a reporter for the San Francisco Chronicle in the 1980's who told the stories of the city's AIDS crisis, and oftentimes was the focus of his community's anger for doing so. Shilts wrote the preeminent book on the crisis called "And the Band Played On: Politics, People, and the AIDS Epidemic." KPIX

IN-QUEER-SITIVE

Test your knowledge of this week in queer news! Answer the question below related to a story in this week's newsletter and get entered into a raffle to win LOOKOUT swag at the end of each month. The more times you play, the more chances you get to win!

What SPLC-designated hate group put on an event that the Maricopa County Attorney attended?

*Hint: You'll have to read the full story on top

Submit your answer here

Last week's answer: Former Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery


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