Achieving LGBTQ Equality Through Litigation, Legislation, Policy, and Public Education

Case Summary & History

Youth

Equality Arizona v. Hoffman

STATUS: Pending

On March 28, 2019, Equality Arizona, represented by National Center for Lesbian Rights and Lambda Legal, along with law professor Clifford Rosky and pro bono counsel Perkins Coie LLP, filed a federal lawsuit challenging Arizona’s anti-LGBTQ curriculum law, which bars public school students from receiving medically accurate, age-appropriate information about non-heterosexual people in their health education classes. Arizona law prohibits instruction in HIV/AIDS curriculum that “[p]romotes a homosexual life-style,” “[p]ortrays homosexuality as a positive alternative life-style,” or “[s]uggests that some methods of sex are safe methods of homosexual sex.”

The lawsuit alleges that the anti-LGBTQ curriculum law violates the Equal Protection Clause of the U.S. Constitution by singling out a group of students for unequal treatment based on their sexual orientation. The law harms LGBTQ students by preventing educators from including or discussing them in a positive light, and it fosters a climate of hostility and harassment against LGBTQ students. The anti-LGBTQ curriculum law also endangers the health and lives of LGBTQ students by forbidding medically accurate and age-appropriate information, especially as the rate of new HIV diagnoses in Arizona has increased in recent years.

The lawsuit is pending in the U.S. District Court for the District of Arizona on behalf of Equality Arizona, a non-profit organization that advocates for the equality of LGBTQ people. The organization includes student members, two of whom are described in the complaint. One student, referred to by the anonymous initials, “A.A.,” is a gay freshman in a greater Phoenix high school. Another student, who is identified by the initials S.C. and is also named as a plaintiff, is a seventh-grade student at a middle school in Tucson.

Arizona’s anti-LGBTQ curriculum law was enacted nearly thirty years ago in 1991. The law is outdated, harmful, and wrong, as Kathy Hoffman – the Arizona Superintendent of Public Education and a defendant in the lawsuit – has herself acknowledged. Repeated legislative efforts to repeal the law have failed, however, and the State continues to enforce it.

Read the complaint here.

Read the press release here.

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