Force Behind SB 1062 Using Conspiracy Theories to Fight Sex Ed in Tempe
Although Arizona's Senate Bill 1062 ultimately did not become law, there's more where that came from.
We've detailed how the Center for Arizona Policy hasn't skipped a beat in pushing its Christian-right agenda at the state Capitol, with bills promoting tighter abortion restrictions, and additional tax exemptions for religious organizations. Meanwhile, another organization that worked on SB 1062, and has close ties to the Center for Arizona Policy, is fighting sex education in Tempe.
The Alliance Defending Freedom, a Scottsdale-based organization, had a role in crafting SB 1062, as well as a similar proposal in Ohio. The organization's website describes its relationship with Cathi Herrod, president of the Center for Arizona Policy:
Cathi Herrod is now in her fifth year as president of the Center for Arizona Policy, a family policy council whose legislative agenda includes a number of Alliance Defense Fund objectives. Her tireless leadership has helped secure the passage of 101 bills - many of them written, endorsed, and/or defended in court by ADF.
Now, the Alliance Defending Freedom is picking a fight over the proposed sex ed curriculum in the Tempe Union High School District, using what may best be described as conspiracy theories.
The organization has claimed that Planned Parenthood has too much influence over this curriculum. But the Alliance Defending Freedom has gone beyond that. First, the organization claimed that Planned Parenthood employees would be the ones teaching sex education to kids in Tempe. Surprise, surprise -- that bogus claim had a bunch of angry parents showing up to a meeting of the school board's sex ed committee.
See the Fox 10 report from January's meeting below:
Two months later, this battle is still going on, but the Alliance Defending Freedom has some new claims. Mainly, that this sex ed curriculum is just a plot by Planned Parenthood doctors to perform more abortions, thus making Planned Parenthood more money. Here's part of what they claim in a publicly released letter:
Fact: Planned Parenthood Federation of America and its affiliates spend about $56 million per year on "public policy" initiatives, i.e., lobbying and efforts to gain access to the children of American parents so as to indoctrinate those children in Planned Parenthood's agenda.
Fact: Planned Parenthood Federation of America's business model (a model replicated by each of its affiliates, including Planned Parenthood AZ) is to create abortion customers and its marketing begins in elementary school.
Fact: Planned Parenthood Federation of America and its affiliates target children, lead them to experiment in sexual practices, use contraceptive devices and abortifacients, obtain STD tests, and then provide them with abortions when they inevitably get pregnant.
(Cross-reference those rants with the Merriam-Webster definition of conspiracy theory: "a theory that explains an event or situation as the result of a secret plan by usually powerful people or groups.")
The reality of the situation isn't as scandalous. Three Planned Parenthood employees were among the 14 people who developed one of the proposed sex ed programs. You can see that curriculum here. Another allegation that actually checked out is that two other programs were recommended on the Planned Parenthood website. How any of that leads to a conspiracy about pumping up the abortion industry remains a mystery.
Plus, as TUHSD superintendent Kenneth Baca wrote in a letter to parents, clearing up all these over-the-top rumors started by the Alliance Defending Freedom, parents have to give permission to the school for their child to get sex education anyway.
In addition to the rumor campaign, the Alliance Defending Freedom is calling on TUHSD board member David Schapira, a former lawmaker, to recuse himself from any decision-making in this sex-ed program selection because he has accepted campaign contributions from the head of Planned Parenthood Arizona.
Above all, the Alliance Defending Freedom has been hinting at filing a lawsuit if the TUHSD ends up adopting this curriculum. They claim in a press release that it likely violates a state law passed in 2012, which says that Arizona schools can't give instruction "that does not give preference, encouragement and support to childbirth and adoption as preferred options to elective abortion."
You'll never guess which two organizations teamed up to write this bill and lobby legislators for its passage . . .
From Alliance Defending Freedom's magazine:
Got a tip? Send it to: Matthew Hendley.
Get the ICYMI: Today's Top Stories Newsletter
Catch up on the day's news and stay informed with our daily digest of the most popular news, music, food and arts stories in Phoenix, delivered to your inbox Monday through Friday.