Arizona’s anti-LGBTQ legislation mobilizes students

Over the past couple of months, Arizona has passed numerous laws directly aimed towards harming the LGBTQ community, and especially towards transgender individuals.

The four laws that have been passed/are in consideration are: SB1165 (banning of transgender women from playing on womens sports teams), SB1138 (bans gender affirming surgery for minors), HB2161 (makes it illegal for teachers to withhold information about a student, such as their sexuality or gender identity, from parents), and HB2495 (bans discussion of LGBT topics and anything related to sex in the classroom).

All of these bills put LGBTQ students in extremely unsafe positions, and may obligate schools to out them to their peers.

“The reason [for these laws] is simple, and common sense – this is a decision that will dramatically affect the rest of an individual’s life, including the ability of that individual to become a biological parent later in life,” says governor Doug Ducey, talking about the recent passing of the SB1138 legislation.

Is it “common sense” for our leaders to be restricting simple health care towards the individuals in our community that desire it the most – or is it just a biased, hateful attempt to harm the LGBTQ community?

Even the consideration of all these bills is an absurd and hateful attempt to try and bring down a select group of people.

“We are seeing an uptick in the frequency and extremism of these bills as time goes on,” said Sam Ames, director of advocacy and government affairs at the Trevor Project, a nonprofit that focuses on suicide prevention for LGBTQ youth.

With the extreme controversy surrounding these bills, state representatives will continue to make these bills official, and ultimately make it harder for students at school to feel like they’re in a safe environment.

Carlyn VanCamp, Sunnyslope’s GSA (Gender-Sexuality Alliance) club sponsor, is on a mission to make her students feel heard and seen.

“[We are] a national club with a mission is to unite LGTBQ+ students and straight/cisgender allies for a safe school community and a space to organize around issues impacting the LGTBQ+ community. I think the presence of the GSA club on our campus is a step towards a kinder, more unified student population.”

When asked for her opinion on the recent passing of the SB1165 legislation – the banning of transgender women being allowed to play on womens sports teams – VanCamp said, “The suggestion that all biological males are athletically superior to all biological females is repugnant. Let me shout this, ‘there is no threat to girl’s sports!’ This law is an undeserved attack on an already marginalized group.”

“It is an audacious remark on politics today that legislatures are passing these bills while no one is looking and copycat versions are marking their way to Governors’ desks around the country”, said VanCamp.

With the controversy of the discussion of all of these bills, Sunnyslope’s GSA banned together to try and prevent Arizona from passing these bills.

On March 28th, the GSA and students from around campus came together to host an event in which they wrote personalized letters to Arizona’s representatives and governors to tell them to vote against these bills.

“Students used this time to contact Governor Ducey and members of the legislature expressing their concerns with the legislation and urging Governor Ducey to veto the bills already passed by the legislature. Students also used what they learned on how to contact their representatives to assist their friends and family in speaking out regarding the discriminatory bills,” said VanCamp.

Efforts like these can have some of the greatest impacts – whether it be statewide, or just from the comfort of our own school.

While legislations like these can make it difficult for many, students at Sunnyslope are fighting and will continue to fight for those who need it in order to make our school a safer environment for all.