PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) - Caryn Bird has spent years teaching high school English, so she knows first hand the challenges LGBTQ students face on campuses across the state.

"We're seeing the bullying and harassment still taking place," said Bird. "Students on a regular basis are hearing derogatory and harassing things in school, based on gender and sexuality, and or perceived gender and sexuality."

Bird is also the co-chair of GLSEN Phoenix, a group devoted to ending discrimination in the LGBTQ community.

She is convinced that an old Arizona law from the 1990s has made the problem worse for LGBTQ students.

The law limits what public school teachers can say about homosexuality in the classroom.

Arizona's new schools' superintendent Kathy Hoffmann is now pushing to repeal the law.

"I do believe that in order to make all of our students feel safe and welcome in public schools, we do need to repeal the 'No Promo Homo' law," she said.

But not everyone is convinced that repealing the old law is necessary.

Cathi Herrod is president of the Center for Arizona Policy and said that Arizona's current law is doing exactly what it's supposed to - providing appropriate instruction on AIDS and HIV.

"The instruction has to be age appropriate and medically accurate," said Herrod. "I think we can all agree that's what the law should be, and it doesn't need to be a forum for opinions and discussions on human sexuality."

Other critics worry that repealing the old law will pave the way for teachers to promote a political agenda on homosexuality and alternative lifestyles.

State Sen. Martin Quezada, D-Glendale, said that's not the case at all.

Quezada is the sponsor of SB 1415, a bill that repeals the law the restricts what teachers can discuss about homosexuality.

Quezada said it would simply allow educators to provide a more diverse curriculum to students.

"Just having an open dialogue with students about sexuality isn't a promotion of one being right and one being wrong," said Quezada. "It's just talking about the reality that these kids are going through and struggling with."

Jason Barry is best known for his Dirty Dining Report which airs Fridays at 6:30 p.m. on CBS 5.  He is also the storyteller behind CBS 5's Pay It Forward which airs every Thursday at 6:30 p.m.

Copyright 2019 KPHO/KTVK (KPHO Broadcasting Corporation). All rights reserved.


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