The Arizona general election will be held on November 4, 2014, and early voting is already underway! Reproductive health care access has been under attack, both nationally and statewide, but Planned Parenthood Advocates of Arizona has endorsed candidates who have shown strong commitment to reproductive justice. To acquaint you with our endorsed candidates, we are running a series called “Meet Our Candidates.” Make your voice heard in 2014!
[A]mong elected officials, school board members are in a unique position to directly affect the lives of students under their governance. When a school board understands that accurate, comprehensive, and inclusive sex education is part of a well-rounded education for all students, it can help empower students to make informed, healthy relationship choices and to respect the humanity and diversity of the individuals they’ll encounter in their lives.
Brian Davidson has lived in the Central Phoenix Osborn School District for 10 years, where he’s been an active community volunteer in that time. Currently, Mr. Davidson seeks to serve his community by running for Osborn School Board, where he plans to advocate for smaller class sizes, continued arts and music education — areas that have been cut in many districts throughout the state — and more classroom resources for teachers.
“Children need to be empowered with information about their bodies and prepared to make responsible decisions by the time they are in middle school and high school.”
Brian Davidson was kind enough to take the time for an interview on October 16, 2014.
Tell us a little about yourself.
A third generation Phoenician, I grew up on the west side of Phoenix. After attending Phoenix College, I graduated from Northern Arizona University. I worked for nonprofits focused on education and career development. From 2003 through 2011, I worked in environmental policy for the State of Arizona and the Environmental Protection Agency. A resident of Central Phoenix since 2002, I served on the Encanto Village Planning Committee and the Woodlea Melrose neighborhood board. I live with my wife Michelle and two children.
Why is it important to you to be involved with education in your community?
As the parent of two school-age children, the quality of our public education system is of fundamental concern to our family. I want to ensure every child in our community has access to a world-class education.
Arizona Mayors released a report stating that high school dropouts cost the state $7.6 billion over the course of their lifetime. What do you think about the connection between teenage pregnancy and high-school dropout rates? How can you prepare your district’s younger students for future success in this regard?
I believe our schools must invest in medically accurate sex education for children, starting in upper-elementary grades. Children need to be empowered with information about their bodies and prepared to make responsible decisions by the time they are in middle school and high school.
Does your school district offer its students age-appropriate, scientifically accurate, comprehensive sexuality education? Do you think the current policy can be improved?
The district currently offers basic “abstinence-only” education. I believe this policy should be reviewed by the board and adapted as needed to provide more practical and comprehensive instruction to students.
According to current Arizona law (ARS 15-176), no school district that includes HIV/AIDS education in their curricula may use instruction that “promotes a homosexual life-style,” “portrays homosexuality as a positive alternative life-style,” or “suggests that some methods of sex are safe methods of homosexual sex.” Do you think such an approach is in the best interest of students?
Earlier this year, Gov. Jan Brewer vetoed SB 1062, a bill that would have allowed discrimination against LGBTQ individuals based on religious beliefs. Similarly, Tucson Unified School District amended its nondiscrimination policy to include protections for transgender students and employees. Given the discrimination that LGBTQ Arizonans still face, how would you help your district protect its students from bullying and harassment based on gender identity and sexual orientation?
I am endorsed by Mayor Greg Stanton and would look forward to working with his administration and his wife Nicole to bring quality anti-bullying programs to the district.
Why was it important for you to be endorsed by Planned Parenthood Advocates of Arizona?
My wife has served on the board of Planned Parenthood Action Fund and we have both been involved supporters of Planned Parenthood for many years. It is important to us that every family has the chance to plan for their future and access quality health care.