A Republican senator from north Phoenix is introducing a bill that would ban sex education from being taught to kindergarten through fourth grade, even though it's unclear if that's even happening now.

PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) - Republican State Senator Nancy Barto wants to ban sex education for students in kindergarten through fourth grade.

According to a statement released from Senator Barto's office, at least 23 school districts across Arizona teach some form of sex education for these younger students, though it's unclear what's being taught.

Senator Barto's press contact wasn't able to provide concrete examples of the sex education curriculum for kindergarten through fourth-graders in these districts.

The Arizona Department of Education also wasn't able to give specifics since the state doesn't track which districts offer sex education or to which grades. 

“It’s time we protect our youngest Arizonans and put sensitive decisions about sexual education in parents’ hands,” Barto said in a statement. 

Along with banning sex education for K-4, Barto's legislation would also regulate HIV and AIDS instruction, making sure it's "medically accurate," discourage drug use, and promote abstinence. 

The bill would prevent students fifth grade and younger from being taught about HIV or AIDS, and would give the parents of older students to opt-out of that curriculum if it was offered. 

Under the proposed legislation, parents would have time to review the sex education material being presented to their children and give them the opportunity to keep their child out of the course. Under Arizona education law, parents already have the option to opt out, and are already need to give written permission for their child to receive sex education. 

"It's simply parental opt in consent. So that parents are aware of what's being taught and then parents have the choice of whether to have their children in those classes or not. That's all it's doing," said Cathi Herrod with the Center for Arizona Policy. 

But some say the bill would stigmatize HIV and AIDS and would leave out key conversations about gender identity and sexual orientation. 

"It's harmful, and it's not going to do anything to improve public health. Instead what it's going to do it's going to vilify and make it harder for folks, particularly those in marginalized communities to get the support and the information that they need," said Democratic State Representative Daniel Hernandez. 

Tuesday family planning groups held a press conference in opposition Barto's legislation. 

"Sex education is a logical venue to help all youth learn about and encourage acceptance for LGBTQ people and families," said Bridget Sharp with Human Rights Campaign Arizona. "Students should have access to materials that are as diverse and inclusive as the world they live in." 

On Tuesday night, the Senate Education Committee passed the bill and it'll head to the Senate floor.

 

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