/ Modified jun 25, 2019 4:56 p.m.

Arizona school board leaves sex education rules unchanged

The board decided not to act on guidelines put forward by the state superintendent.

School Lockers, Learning hero

PHOENIX — Arizona education officials have left sex education rules alone after hearing parents, lawmakers and advocates rail against proposed changes.

The State Board of Education decided Monday to take no action on a series of guidelines that Superintendent Kathy Hoffman had asked the board to consider, the Arizona Republic reported.

Democratic state Sen. Martin Quezada developed the changes with a group of teachers, school board members and LGBT advocates.

The proposal included adding language that instruction should be medically accurate, allowing schools to teach boys and girls together instead of separately, and removing language that prohibits the "teaching of abnormal, deviate, or unusual sexual acts and practices."

The board made changes to the rules last month after LGBT groups sued the state, asking a judge to strike down a 1991 state law that had barred HIV and AIDS instruction that "promotes a homosexual lifestyle." Republican Gov. Doug Ducey signed a bill in April to repeal the law.

The new guideline reforms prompted a large turnout at the board meeting Monday, causing officials to open three overflow rooms to fit the crowd. The meeting was livestreamed on the internet.

Some parents raised concerns about the types of sexual activity that might be addressed in the classroom. Several others advocated for the board to leave sex education to parents to teach.

"Lovemaking is not meant to be treated as a how-to guide," parent Veronica Corcoran told the board. "Sexuality really belongs behind closed doors."

Hoffman addressed the audience following three hours of comments from the crowd.

"I know that this topic is very sensitive and it really brings up a lot of emotion," Hoffman said. "We're talking about our children In Arizona, and I don't see this as a purple issue, or a red issue or a Democrat issue or a Republican issue. This is about our students and our public schools."

School districts set their own curriculum for sex education, but the state rules govern what can and cannot be included. The state allows parents to opt their children in or out of lessons, making sex education optional.

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