Two years after Arizona lawmakers repealed a ban on any HIV/AIDS instruction that “promotes a homosexual lifestyle” as they faced a lawsuit, they have approved revamping the state’s sex education laws to make them some of the strictest in the nation when it comes to teaching about LGBTQ issues.
The measure pushed by a powerful social conservative group is framed as a parental rights issue and would require schools to get parents’ permission for discussions about gender identity, sexual orientation or HIV/AIDS in sex education classes.
Schools also would need parents to sign off on their children learning about historical events involving sexual orientation, such as a discussion of the modern gay rights movement that sprang from the 1969 Stonewall riots in New York.
The bill passed the Republican-controlled House on a party-line vote Wednesday, with Democrats saying it would harm LGBTQ children. It already passed the Senate and now goes to Republican Gov. Doug Ducey.
Arizona is among several Republican-led states where lawmakers are considering similar changes to sex education. Moving to give parents more control over what their children may be taught about LGBTQ issues is new and comes amid other efforts pushing back on social changes, including legislation in some states to ban transgender athletes from competing on the school teams of their identified sex, according to the Guttmacher Institute, a reproductive rights group that tracks such legislation.
Arizona is one of five states that already require parents’ permission before a child can attend sex education classes, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. The new proposal would essentially require a double opt-in for HIV/AIDS instruction that addresses sexual orientation or gender identity. Additional permission would be needed for LGBTQ discussions in any other class.
Idaho legislation also requires notifications and opt-ins, including for discussion of sexual orientation outside of sex education classes. It has passed the House and awaits Senate action.
Lawmakers in Tennessee and Missouri are considering measures that would require parents to be notified before instruction on sexual orientation or gender identity but would exclude historical references.
In Montana, the Legislature passed a bill last week initially meant to require parents to opt in to sex education but was changed after pushback from education groups. It now allows parents to opt their children out of sex ed and awaits action by Republican Gov. Greg Gianforte.
Advocates for comprehensive sex education say such legislation can have far-reaching negative effects under the guise of parental rights by limiting fact-based education that young people need to stay safe.
“They continually call out a need to review curriculum — and any sex education curriculum is already being reviewed,” said Alison Macklin, a senior policy adviser at the progressive group SIECUS: Sex Ed for Social Change. “So these standards are decided by experts who are educators. And there’s always the opportunity for parents to review curriculum.”
The leader of the group backing Arizona’s proposal, the Center for Arizona Policy, said it is about ensuring parents have control over what their children are taught.
“The purpose of Senate Bill 1456 is to look out for parental rights, to ensure that parents have access to learning materials, that parents have the opportunity to opt their child in to classes dealing with human sexuality,” said Cathi Herrod, the group’s president.
She said the same is true whether the class is sex education or a discussion of the ancient Greeks, where homosexuality was common.
“It doesn’t stop those topics from being addressed, but again when we talk sex education, when we talk parental notification, parents deserve the opportunity to make that decision to opt their students in to classroom discussion,” Herrod said.
Macklin called the proposals an effort to reinforce barriers.
“In a way, it’s a subliminal way of trying to get anti-homosexual legislation put in, by saying you can’t speak or talk about it in schools,” she said. “We would never make that type of legislation around other historical movements.”
Opponents of the Arizona legislation pointed to the repealed 1991 law about HIV/AIDS instruction as a motivation for the new proposal. LGBTQ groups sued over the law nearly 30 years later.
The 2019 repeal came after the state’s top school official and attorney general refused to defend Arizona against the lawsuit alleging unconstitutional discrimination and restriction of educational opportunity for LGBTQ students.
Democrats warned during House debate Wednesday that the new proposal has similar constitutional issues.
The legislation has grabbed the attention of a group of college students who say Arizona’s sex education is already backward and the measure moves it even farther away from what young people need to know.
Lee Chiffelle, a junior studying astrophysics at Arizona State University, said she started promoting changes to sex ed policies as a high school student frustrated with the lack of factual, honest education. She said she got the most important lessons from her mom, but not all young people can rely on their parents.
“I was lucky, but a lot of my friends weren’t that lucky,” Chiffelle said. “A lot of parents seem to think that if you don’t talk about it, teenagers won’t have sex, which is definitely not true.”
Arizona’s measure would bar schools from providing sex education before fifth grade, require 60 days’ notice of curriculum changes and mandate public meetings about those revisions, even those required under the new law.
Chiffelle said she’s concerned about everything from parents not returning permission slips to the sex ed ban before fifth grade, which is focused on “good touch-bad touch” skills and how to tell if they’re being abused and how to get help.
The most dangerous aspect of the new proposal, she said, is favoring traditional gender roles and limiting discussions about sexual orientation and gender identity.
“We need this education to promote an inclusive environment, an accepting environment, because LGBTQ-plus teens, they have incredibly high rates of suicide,” Chiffelle said. “But when they are placed in an environment that’s accepting to them and inclusive to them, those suicide rates drop drastically.”
Dems urge Ducey veto Arizona bill requiring permission of LGBTQ lessons
Arizona Democrats, including the state’s schools chief, are urging Republican Gov. Doug Ducey to veto a bill that would require schools to get parents’ permission for discussions about gender identity, sexual orientation or HIV/AIDS in sex education classes.
Schools under the bill would also be forced to get parent permission for children to learn about historical events involving sexual orientation.
Arizona is one of five states already requiring parents’ permission before a child can attend sex education classes, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures, and the bill would make the state’s sex education laws some of the strictest in the nation when it comes to teaching about LGBTQ issues.
The new proposal essentially requires a double opt-in for HIV/AIDS instruction that addresses sexual orientation or gender identity and additional permission would be needed for LGBTQ discussions in any other class.
Senate Bill 1456, already passed by the Senate, passed the Republican-controlled House in a party-line vote on Wednesday and now heads to Ducey.
Democrats said the bill would harm LGBTQ children and comes after the state, facing a lawsuit, previously repealed a ban on any HIV/AIDS instruction that “promotes a homosexual lifestyle.”
“Two years ago, by an overwhelming bipartisan majority, the Legislature repealed the discriminatory so-called ‘No Promo Homo’ law that for decades led to stigmatization and bullying of LGBTQ students,” House Democratic Leader Reginald Bolding said in a press release. “The passage of SB1456 effectively puts those restrictions on discussion of public health issues like HIV-AIDS – or even the history and contributions of the LGBTQ community – back into place.
“The same governor who repealed that stain on our state’s history should not sign this one.”
Arizona Superintendent of Public Instruction Kathy Hoffman in a statement said the bill marks a giant step backward for the state.
“This legislation will once again silence and erase LGTBQ individuals and their history in our schools – and it will harm students and families,” Hoffman said.
Hoffman urged Ducey to veto the bill swiftly and affirm that Arizona “is a welcoming place for all, no matter their sexual orientation, gender identity or background.”
“This legislation is nothing short of state-codified bigotry and does not reflect where most Arizonans stand on these issues,” Hoffman said.
Cathi Herrod, president of the Center for Arizona Policy that is backing the bill, said it is about ensuring parents have control over what their children are taught.
“The purpose of Senate Bill 1456 is to look out for parental rights, to ensure that parents have access to learning materials, that parents have the opportunity to opt their child in to classes dealing with human sexuality,” Herrod said, adding the same is true whether the class is sex education or a discussion of the ancient Greeks, where homosexuality was common.
“It doesn’t stop those topics from being addressed, but again when we talk sex education, when we talk parental notification, parents deserve the opportunity to make that decision to opt their students in to classroom discussion.”
The bill also bars schools from providing sex education before fifth grade.
“Age-appropriate comprehensive sex education helps children when they are most vulnerable to distinguish between – for example – a good touch and a bad touch and gives them the language to tell a responsible adult if they have been abused,” Bolding said. “Parents can already opt-out of this instruction if they choose, but if the legislature erects so many barriers that this instruction disappears altogether it will only allow and cause more harm.”
“If our Republican colleagues truly cared about preventing childhood sexual abuse – which they frequently profess – then they should have rejected this bill.”
Arizona is among several Republican-led states where lawmakers are considering similar changes to sex education.
Shafkat Anowar / AP
Two boys hold signs demanding justice for Adam Toledo during a press conference last week.
A 13-year-old boy who was shot and killed in Chicago by a police officer had his hands up when the cop fired his weapon, new videos show.
The city’s Civilian Office of Police Accountability posted the videos online Thursday along with other recordings and police reports related to the shooting of Adam Toledo, following weeks of protest over the boy’s killing and demands to release the body camera footage to the public.
Ahead of the release, Mayor Lori Lightfoot described viewing the footage as “excruciating.” She also urged Chicagoans to respond peacefully and cautioned that the videos should not be viewed by children.
“Even as our understanding of this incident continues to evolve, this remains a complicated and nuanced story and we all must proceed with deep empathy and calm,” Lightfoot said during a press conference Thursday.
On March 29, a police officer shot the boy to death in an alley in Chicago’s Little Village neighborhood after a foot pursuit. Officers were responding to a call of shots fired when they chased Toledo and 21-year-old Ruben Roman, who officials said fired the initial gunshots that brought police to the area.
As one officer tackled Roman, another ordered Toledo to stop, but the boy kept running, prosecutors said Saturday during a court hearing for Roman, who is now facing child endangerment and weapons charges. Toledo then paused and the officer ordered him to show his hands.
Footage from the body camera worn by the officer who fatally shot Toledo shows the cop running after the boy, yelling, “Stop, stop right fucking now.”
“Hands. Show me your fucking hands, drop it,” the officer yells, according to the video.
The boy is then seen with his hands raised as the officer fires one round, causing Toledo to fall backward to the ground in an opening along a fence. A gun is not visible in the body worn video at the time of the shooting. The officer then runs toward him and radios for an ambulance.
The video then shows officers attempting first aid over several minutes as Toledo lies gravely wounded. He was pronounced dead at the scene, and a gun was also recovered, police said.
Prosecutors initially said that as the boy turned toward the officer, he had a gun in his right hand. Immediately before the video was released, however, the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office told WGN9 that that detail was inaccurate and that the attorney who provided the information “failed to fully inform himself before speaking in court.”
The accountability office said that videos and recordings, which include body worn camera footage, third-party videos, ShotSpotter gun detection footage, and audio from 911 calls, have not been edited, however, some redactions were made to protect personal information.
The officer who shot Toledo has been placed on administrative duties for 30 days, officials said. The police accountability office’s investigation into the shooting is ongoing.
The boy’s family was allowed to view the footage Tuesday. Their attorney’s office said in a statement that watching the videos “was extremely difficult and heartbreaking.” The statement said they would continue with their own investigation into the incident.
Toledo’s death has sparked outrage across the city where young people in many communities are often exposed to gun violence. The seventh-grader is the youngest person in years to be killed by Chicago police, according to the Chicago Tribune.
Lightfoot said Thursday that the city had failed Toledo as she called on the community to use his death as an opportunity to “do better for our young people … so that they can walk a life in their streets, in their neighborhoods without fear, without feeling like they are prey wherever the violence comes from.”
Toledo had “a big imagination and curiosity” and loved animals, riding his bike, and zombies, his mother, Elizabeth Toledo, said in a statement. “He even had this zombie apocalypse bag packed and ready to go,” she said. “May he rest in peace.”
The boy had his hands up in submission and was still shot. Is there any doubt the boy was running because he was scared for his life! The prosecutors tried to put this as OK claiming falsely the boy had a gun. That is the tactic in any police shooting, smear the victim, lie about what happened, and protect the bad cop. The cop who shot a 13 year old is still on the force and on duty, drawing his pay. Even if it is a bad shooting the police department won’t pay the settlement, the local taxpayers will pay. This has to end! Hugs
There are 13 Appellate Courts; there should be 13 Justices.
Ask Russia. They gain the most by America failing. Why are Republicans so reverential to Putin? Why did Trump/GOP do so much to help Russia with ending sanctions? Ask Mitch.
Republican Senators have no shame.
#DaunteWright was executed while they tried to pull him from his car by cops with guns drawn.
Is that how they were trained?
The police bias is manifest.
The case could fuel criticism of police investigators’ use of a controversial technology that has been shown to perform worse on people of color
Robert Williams outside his home in Farmington Hills, Mich. Williams is suing the Detroit police after he was falsely identified as a shoplifter by facial recognition software. (Drew English/American Civil Liberties Union)
Prosecutors dropped the case less than two weeks later, arguing that officers had relied on insufficient evidence. Police Chief James Craig later apologized for what he called “shoddy” investigative work. Williams, who said he had been driving home from work when the 2018 theft had occurred, was interrogated by detectives and held in custody for 30 hours before his release.
Williams’s case sparked a public outcry about the fast-growing police use of a technology that research has shown often misidentifies people of color. His lawsuit is at least the third in the United States brought by Black men to raise doubts about the software’s accuracy.
The case could heighten the legal challenges for a technology that is largely unregulated in the country, even as it has become a prolific investigative tool used by police forces and federal investigators. While the software has been banned by more than a dozen cities nationwide, it has been cited in a growing number of criminal cases, including in the landmark investigation of rioters at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6.
Williams’s attorneys did not make him available for comment Tuesday. But Williams wrote in The Washington Post last year that the episode had left him deeply shaken, in part because his young daughters had watched him get handcuffed in his driveway and put into a police car after returning home from work.
“How does one explain to two little girls that a computer got it wrong, but the police listened to it anyway?” he wrote. “As any other black man would be, I had to consider what could happen if I asked too many questions or displayed my anger openly — even though I knew I had done nothing wrong.”
Sgt. Nicole Kirkwood, a Detroit police spokeswoman, said the department does not comment on pending litigation. But she pointed to comments from Craig last year in which the police chief said the case’s failures “had nothing to do with technology, but certainly had everything to do with poor investigative work.”
“This was clearly sloppy, sloppy investigative work. There’s no other way for me to say it but that way,” Craig told a Detroit Board of Police Commissioners meeting last June that is cited in the lawsuit. “If you just rely solely on facial recognition technology, there’s a high probability that it’s going to misidentify.”
Kirkwood told The Post in a statement last year that the department does not make arrests based solely on a facial recognition search and that, in Williams’s case, investigators had reviewed video, interviewed witnesses, conducted a photo lineup and submitted evidence to prosecutors, who recommended charges against Williams for first-degree retail fraud.
Wayne County prosecutors later said the facial recognition result was not enough evidence to bring charges and that the store security official shown the photo lineup hadn’t been in the store during the crime.
“This case should not have been issued based on the DPD investigation, and for that we apologize,” prosecutor Kym L. Worthy said in a statement. “Thankfully, it was dismissed on our office’s own motion. This does not in any way make up for the hours that Mr. Williams spent in jail.”
Williams’s identification as the thief happened after Detroit detectives sent a blurry, dimly lit image from a surveillance camera to the Michigan State Police, which ran a facial recognition search that pointed to Williams’s old driver’s license photo as a possible match.
But the state police’s “investigative lead report” also said, in all capital letters, that the document was not a positive identification or sufficient probable cause for an arrest. The detective nevertheless submitted the photo to prosecutors as evidence to support an arrest warrant.
The civil suit argues that Williams’s rights were violated under the Fourth Amendment, which bans “unreasonable” police searches, as well as a state civil rights law prohibiting racial discrimination. The lawsuit seeks an unspecified amount for damages as well as policy changes for the Detroit Police Department, which continues to use the software.
Williams is being represented by student attorneys at the University of Michigan Law School’s Civil Rights Litigation Initiative as well as lawyers from the American Civil Liberties Union and the advocacy group’s Michigan affiliate.
One of the student attorneys, Jeremy Shur, said Tuesday that Williams’s daughters, ages 3 and 7, have been “traumatized” by the incident. “When they see police, they wonder if they’re taking Daddy away,” Shur said.
The software’s accuracy is heavily dependent on image quality: Blurry, grainy or dark photos often lead to poor results. But even the algorithms used in a facial recognition search can offer a wide range of effectiveness: Several of those tested in a 2019 federal study were up to 100 times more likely to misidentify the face of a Black or Asian person, compared with a White person.
Williams’s lawsuit is the second accusing Detroit police of making a false facial recognition match: In September, a 26-year-old man named Michael Oliver sued the department, saying his false arrest on a 2019 larceny charge led him to lose his job and spend three days in jail.
The same detective, Donald Bussa, investigated both Oliver and Williams and is named in both lawsuits. Craig has criticized Bussa’s use of a “blurry” photo and said the department has worked to change the facial recognition policies that led to the arrest.
In a third lawsuit, filed in January, a man named Nijer Parks sued New Jersey police and prosecutors, saying he was held in jail for 10 days after he was falsely accused of stealing from a hotel gift shop in 2019. All three cases are ongoing.
Defenders of the technology said it should be used solely to generate leads for police, not as the lone piece of evidence, and that officers should not rely too heavily on its results or apply it to every low-level crime. The Detroit department’s policy has since been changed to allow the use of facial recognition software only in cases of violent crime.
But critics argue that officers who put too much trust in the systems’ findings — or who alter the search images in hopes of achieving better results, as researchers have found evidence of in some police departments — could end up placing the burden of proof on innocent people who may not be told what investigative techniques were used as the basis for their arrest.
Both the Detroit and Michigan state police have a contract with a South Carolina-based company, DataWorks Plus, that makes facial recognition software. The company did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
The Detroit department is also among hundreds of police agencies that have used Clearview AI, a facial recognition tool that searches through a large database of photos taken from across the Internet, according to a BuzzFeed News report earlier this month based on data from a confidential source. Neither the Detroit police nor Clearview have confirmed the report, and it does not appear Clearview was used in Williams’s case.
Clare Garvie, a senior associate at Georgetown Law’s Center on Privacy and Technology who has studied facial recognition software and is not involved in the lawsuit, said the lawsuits have helped shed light on investigative and technological breakdowns that would otherwise remain unseen.
But she expressed concern that slow court proceedings and a patchwork approach to regulation could lead to more cases of facial recognition misidentification before the existing damage could be addressed.
Garvie also worried that the cases shifted the costs of police failures to the people who had been falsely identified — and to the general public, who both live in fear of false arrests and end up paying to defend or settle the cases in court.
“There’s the burden of somebody after the fact, who’s already been injured by a misidentification, to inform the public of what happened to them,” she said. Then “the taxpayer bears the burden of the mistake.”
Anyone think these mistakes would have happened to a white person? Or that the investigation would have stopped before arresting a white person? Systemic racism is a huge problem in the US. Hugs