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Amidst controversy, Arizona State Senator pulls sex education bill

A controversial bill on sex education in Arizona has been pulled, Just hours before an Arizona State Senate committee was supposed to hold a hearing on it.

Sen. Sylvia Allen's proposal was set for a hearing Tuesday afternoon but was unexpectedly scratched from the agenda of the Education Committee she chairs Monday evening. The proposal also boosts parental notification requirements and allows parents to sue if they're not happy with a school district's response to their concerns about a sex-ed curriculum. It also requires a focus on minors abstaining from sex.

Senate President Karen Fann said Allen needs more time to hear from concerned parties and revise the proposal before it is heard in committee.

The proposal initially set off a firestorm of criticism because it barred even the mention of homosexuality, although Allen pulled that provision last week, saying it was being misinterpreted.

"We should've had the opportunity to debate the merits of the bill, not the feather that went out there labelling this bill in a wrong manner," said State Sen. Allen. "Because the bill has been tagged wrongly as an anti-gay bill and it is not so, now that 1082 has been tagged with that label, it's no longer going to be effective."

The state Legislature repealed a 1991 law last year that had barred HIV and AIDS instruction that “promotes a homosexual lifestyle.”

Allen said her proposal is intended to give parents more access and transparency about sex education classes so they could make informed decisions about the health and welfare of their children.

Opponents call it unneeded in a state where parents already have to approve having their children take sex ed classes.

State Sen. Allen has vowed to come up with another version, one that would clearly state sexual orientation can be a part of the curriculum, but still bans sex ed until the 7th grade. Allen hopes to introduce the re-worked bill before the end of this session.

On Tuesday, opponents of Allen's original bill, which included teens and pediatricians, rallied, criticizing Allen's bill as taking Arizona backwards. In addition, a Democratic lawmaker from Tucson has introduced her own bill on sex education: SB 1120.

"I have introduced the 'Safe and Healthy Students Act', which provides medically accurate, age-appropriate sex education for students in K through the 12th grade," said State Sen. Steele.