A school board in Arizona is pretending abortion and birth control don't exist, because it's evidently too much for high school students in honors biology to understand — or even learn about. The Gilbert school board will edit abortion out of a biology textbook, because it conflicts with a bizarre state law that mandates schools to portray childbirth and adoption as "preferred options" to abortion. Because the biology book in question has a chapter on various birth control methods — the horror! — as well as information on drugs the cause abortion, those pages must got to go, according to Gilbert school board members who may or may not practice abstinence.
The controversial textbook is Campbell Biology: Concepts & Connections (7th Edition), which has a cute, non-controversial meerkat on the cover. How could it possibly be so salacious? Because it doesn't say what we want it to say, the school board explains.
Board member Julie Smith told 12 News in Phoenix that removing two pages from the textbook isn't really a big deal, nor is it censorship or infringing on free speech or anything:
By redacting, we are not censoring. This school district does offer sexual education classes. If we were censoring, we would not offer anything on this topic whatsoever.
While it's true that the Gilbert school district offers sex education classes, they're not necessarily comprehensive or unbiased. According to Arizona's Board of Education policy, sex education in the state must emphasize abstinence above all else, to the degree that educations must talk about the "emotional and psychological consequences of pre-adolescent" and "promote honor and respect for monogamous heterosexual marriage."
So, Arizona high school students may not be getting the full picture when it comes to sex, sexual relationships and contraception.
According to AZ Central, the school board didn't have a plan for how to change the pages on birth control and abortion in the biology textbook. Ripping out the pages referencing how to either prevent pregnancy or have an alternative to childbirth was the easiest thing to do. "The cheapest, least disruptive way to solve the problem is to remove the page," board member Daryl Colvin told the news source.
Surprisingly, an Arizona Department of Education member didn't see any problem with the biology textbook's pages on abortion and birth control. Chris Kotterman, who serves as the department's deputy associate superintendent for policy development and government relations, told AZ Central:
[The textbook] does not appear on its face to violate the statute. In general, the mere mention of a means of medically inducing abortion does not automatically signal a lack of preference for childbirth and adoption ... the responsibility lies with the teacher to provide context for the student.
Unfortunately, the local school boards in Arizona decide which textbooks to use. So, nearly 40,000 students attending Gilbert public schools this fall should expect to hear this fall a lot about putting an aspirin between their knees unless they're really excited about childbirth.
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