Arizona Republican Proposes Trio of Laws That Would Allow Schools to Discriminate Against Transgender Students

A Republican Arizona state representative has introduced three laws that propose mandating binary sex identification on state documents and legally allowing public school employees to discriminate against transgender students by referring to them with incorrect pronouns.

Rep. John Fillmore proposed House Bill 2082 for the upcoming legislative session, according to a Tuesday report in the Arizona Mirror. The bill would prevent public schools from penalizing employees who use incorrect pronouns for transgender students. It would also prohibit schools from requiring that employees use correct pronouns for students, unless the pronoun "corresponds to the sex listed on that student's birth certificate."

A recent incident that would likely have had a different outcome under the proposed law involved an Arizona teacher who was fired in September 2019. The teacher allegedly insisted on using incorrect pronouns for transgender students, and failed one student for a school project that referred to gender identity. The teacher was also said to have lowered the grade of a student that admitted to being an atheist while proselytizing Christianity and attempting to distribute Bibles to students in class.

Although the law would seemingly help teachers legally discriminate against transgender students, Fillmore insisted the proposal was aimed at helping schools focus on issues like simple math instead of "sexual stuff."

"We've got to get back to 2 plus 2 is 4 and keep basic educational items to allow our kids to grow up and to function in society. And all of this sexual stuff, I don't think should be out there at all," Fillmore told Capitol Media Services.

It's unclear which sexual issues Fillmore believes would be avoided with the new law. Gender identity does not have a direct relationship to sexuality.

transgender chalkboard
One of the three proposed anti-transgender laws would prevent schools from taking any action against employees who refuse to refer to students by their preferred pronouns. Getty

The two other anti-transgender laws proposed by Fillmore deal with amending statutes to mandate binary sex designation on birth certificates and official identification. Although current state law does not have any specific requirement, House Bill 2081 would amend the law to force birth certificates "to include information that indicates the individual's sex as either male or female."

House Bill 2080 would force government agencies, departments, boards and commissions to exclusively refer to people as either male or female on all documents. This law may be aimed at preventing gender-neutral identification from being issued, which has become available in a growing number of states. State Rep. Rosanna Gabaldon, a Democrat, has introduced a competing bill that would make "nonbinary" an option in Arizona.

Fillmore claimed he doesn't "have a problem with the LGBT community," while suggesting that the proposed laws would help Arizona society by avoiding "dealing with" the issue of people being transgender, claiming that society didn't have "any problems" for thousands of years, when he says there were "two biological sexes."

"For thousands of years we've had two biological sexes and we haven't had any problems," said Fillmore. "So now if you start introducing all of this other stuff you really muddy the waters up. And I don't think it behooves society, the state of Arizona, and especially the school districts, to be dealing with this."

Other bills sponsored by Fillmore include an effort to prevent schools from teaching economic and social implications of environmental science in order to avoid what Fillmore calls "indoctrination in global warming" and a proposal to eliminate the requirement that children be vaccinated to attend public school.