This week’s top news for separation of church and state in AZ comes from the school boards. And some of it’s pretty good!

Phoenix district dumps partnership with discriminatory evangelical college

Washington Elementary School District (WESD) has partnered with Arizona Christian University (ACU) since 2018 on a student teacher work-for-credit program. ACU is a right-wing evangelical school that teaches—among other things—that homosexuality is a sin, life begins at conception, and evolution is a myth. It promotes "free market" capitalism; "God's purposes for limited government"; and that there is no constitutional separation of church and state.

By unanimous vote, board members dumped WESD's partnership with ACU when it came up for renewal this week.

This is huge. Even in left-leaning districts, programs like this can get blindly rubber stamped if nobody brings the issue to board members’ attention. That’s what Secular AZ constituents did by showing up at the board meeting and emailing members—and it worked! A big thank you to everyone who took action.

A special shout out to WESD board member Tamillia Valenzuela for bringing this agenda item to our attention and pulling it from consent agenda.

Battleground: Peoria Unified School District

PUSD's latest board meeting was rife with frustration as religious right members attempted to rally their followers over “culture war” topics—resulting in wasted time and pushback from parents weary of politics.

Members were scheduled to hold a private executive session to talk about the issue of transgender students and bathrooms with their attorney. MAGA board members—who seemingly possessed no understanding of parliamentary procedure—pushed to make the session open to the public, despite bathrooms not being on the agenda. Watch the circus here.

Board member Heather Rooks also illegally proselytized, quoting Proverbs 22:6 to students in attendance.

PUSD is turning into a favorite gathering place for the “culture war” crowd every week. It’s important that more supporters of reason fill seats there. Find the meeting schedule here.

Turning Point USA invading Chandler high schools

White Christian nationalist lobby group Turning Point USA (TPUSA) held this indoctrination summit at Chandler’s Perry High School last Tuesday. The only people allowed to attend were members of TPUSA’s club at the school—plus school board member Kurt Rohrs. At a subsequent governing board meeting the following week, parents and students ripped Rohrs for his attendance, prompting his anger.

Find Governing Board contact info (including Rohrs’) here.

Support for Sanity in Scottsdale USD

Parents came out in force to Scottsdale Unified School District’s last meeting to voice overwhelming support for Superintendent Dr. Scott Menzel. Menzel had been facing calls for his resignation by conservatives over an out-of-context quote that was (lightly) critical of white nationalism.

A big shout out to everyone who stood up for reason at this meeting!

Join us for Day (Near) the Capitol!

Every year, we gather folks from all over the state for Secular Day at the Capitol: a chance to meet your lawmakers, rally at the Legislature, hear speakers, and get introduced on the House and Senate floors.

Space is limited and an RSVP is required – please click here to reserve your spot. We’re not charging for this event, but if you are able to make a donation to help us cover catering and speaker costs, we would be very grateful! 


WATCH: Joseph Jaafari on the (Mis)Use and Abuse of Arizona Prisoners

The connections between white supremacy, the prison industrial complex, and religion aren't always as clear. So we've been hosting talks about criminal justice reform every Friday. Investigative reporter Joseph D. Jaafari joined us last week to discuss his investigations into the (mis)use of prison labor in AZ. Watch here. 


Here’s a roundup of the top secular issue bills headed for committee in the Arizona state legislature this week, thanks to Civic Engagement Beyond Voting (CEBV) as part of their newsletter.

Users of Arizona’s Request to Speak (RTS) system can sign in to publicly register their opinions on these bills before the dates listed.

CEBV can also help you get started using RTS here.

  • SB1040, sponsored by John Kavanagh (R-3), would ban trans kids from using the school bathrooms, changing facilities and “sleeping quarters” that align with their gender identities. It would create a situation where trans kids couldn’t use any facilities at all without undue scrutiny of their bodies, calling that a "reasonable accommodation." Anyone who “encounters” a trans person in a bathroom could file suit against public schools. A federal court found that these policies violate the US Constitution and Title IX, so in addition to being monstrously cruel, this would open Arizona to a host of lawsuits at taxpayer expense. Polls show that Americans from every political ideology and age group oppose anti-trans legislation. Scheduled for Senate Rules Committee, Monday. OPPOSE.

    SB1145, sponsored by Jake Hoffman (R-15), would exempt students at Arizona’s three in-state universities from student activity fees if the student says the payment would “violate their conscience” or if the student meets any of a list of reasons for exemption, including objecting on religious or moral grounds, financial hardship, and part-time status. Universities already give fee waivers for financial hardship; this is intended to enshrine culture wars into statute. Scheduled for Senate Rules Committee, Monday. OPPOSE.

    SB1146, sponsored by Jake Hoffman (R-15), would require Arizona’s retirement system to divest from companies that “promote, facilitate or advocate for” abortions for minors, or for “the inclusion of, or the referral of students to, sexually explicit material.” This ill-considered blanket mandate would leave half a million teachers, municipal workers and other government employees with retirement accounts that are unable to invest in most major companies, and creates a minefield for investors and pension fund managers. Hoffman introduced the same bill last year. Scheduled for Senate Rules Committee, Monday. OPPOSE.

    SB1500, sponsored by Frank Carroll (R-28), would require state retirement funds to evaluate their investments solely based on finances. Similar to other bills this session that crusade against “pro-abortion, pro-sex-ed” banks. This culture war against an imaginary problem could create real consequences for those who depend on Arizona’s retirement system. An ill-considered blanket mandate such as this could leave half a million teachers, municipal workers and other government employees with retirement accounts that are unable to invest in most major companies, and may create a minefield for investors and pension fund managers. Scheduled for Senate Rules Committee, Monday. OPPOSE.

    SB1600, sponsored by Janae Shamp (R-29), would broaden a controversial anti-abortion bill from 2017 that requires clinics, hospitals and physicians to “care for a baby delivered alive.” Physicians and parents opposed the 2017 bill for forcing unnecessary procedures on babies with no chance of survival instead of allowing these babies to die in the arms of their parents. The bill removes compromise language inserted to help the bill pass and inserts language related to the concept of fetal personhood. Any violation would be a felony and result in the loss of the medical professional’s license. Scheduled for Senate Rules Committee, Monday. OPPOSE.

    SCR1025, sponsored by Justine Wadsack (R-17), would ask voters to insert the “parents bill of rights” into the state Constitution. This concept, pushed by the extremist Center for Arizona Policy, is often wielded as a far-right political bludgeon against schools, health care organizations and children’s advocacy groups. Scheduled for Senate Rules Committee, Monday. OPPOSE.


Ask for a Hearing

  • HB2351, sponsored by Patricia Contreras (D-12), would ban health care professionals from using the abusive, widely discredited practice of LGBT “conversion therapy” on minors. These methods can include electric shocks, induced vomiting, or elastic bands snapped against the skin to create negative associations with same-sex attraction; hypnosis; masculinity workshops; and spiritual counseling. The American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Psychological Association, and other national organizations oppose this “therapy” as destructive and unprofessional. You won’t be able to sign in on RTS about this bill until it gets a hearing. Contact House Health Chair Steve Montenegro (R-29) ( / 602-926-3635) and House Judiciary Chair Quang Nguyen (R-1) ( / 602-926-3258) to ask that the bill be placed on an agenda. SUPPORT

Secular AZ
PO Box 19258  | Phoenix, Arizona 85005
6023804810 |

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