"Controversial issues" bill in Arizona

Arizona's Senate Bill 1532, as amended and passed by the House of Representatives on May 5, 2021, would, if enacted, require public school teachers who choose "to discuss controversial issues of public policy or social affairs" to "present these issues from diverse and contending perspectives without giving deference to any one perspective." Teachers out of compliance could be fined up to $5000.

No definition of "controversial" is provided. When the author of the amendment, Michelle Udall (R-District 25), was asked on the floor of the House whether climate change denial specifically would have to receive equal time in the classroom under her bill, she replied, "If they're working on controversial topics they should teach them from diverse and contending perspectives without giving preference to either side and let students draw their own conclusion," according to Capitol Media Services (May 7, 2021).

The Senate already passed a version of the bill, without any provisions affecting education, so presumably a conference committee would have to reconcile the two different versions for it to pass the legislature. Because the provisions affecting education were introduced by amendment, there was never a public hearing on them; the Capitol Media Service story noted that the Senate could similarly approve the bill without a public hearing.

Glenn Branch
Short Bio

Glenn Branch is Deputy Director of NCSE.


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