Arizona School District Cutting Contraception from High School Biology Text

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Via Steve Benen, here’s the latest from Gilbert, Arizona:

School district staff here will “edit” a high-school honors biology textbook after board members agreed that it does not align with state regulations on how abortion is to be presented to public-school students.

….The book in question, Campbell Biology: Concepts & Connections (Seventh Edition), has a chapter that discusses abstinence, birth-control methods, tubal ligations and vasectomies and drugs that can induce abortion.

….The board made its decision after listening to a presentation from Natalie Decker, a lawyer for Scottsdale-based Alliance Defending Freedom….Decker did not recommend a way to change the book but said it could be redacted or have additional information pasted in. “The cheapest, least disruptive way to solve the problem is to remove the page,” board member Daryl Colvin said.

This whole thing is ridiculous, and the prospect of taking a razor blade to p. 547 of this textbook is cringe-inducing. Hell, as near as anyone can tell, the book doesn’t even violate Arizona law, which requires public schools to present childbirth and adoption as preferred options to elective abortion. Apparently there are just some folks in Gilbert who don’t like having the subject presented at all.

Still, ridiculous as this is, I do have a serious question to ask. I checked, and this is not a “Human Sexuality” text or a “Health and Family” book. It’s straight-up biology: photosynthesis, genes, evolution, eukaryotic cells, vertebrates, nervous systems, hormones, the immune system, etc. etc. So why, in a generic biology textbook, is there a special boxed page devoted to specific technical means of contraception in human beings? That really does seem like something pasted in to make a point, not because it follows naturally from a discussion of reproduction and embryonic development in class Mammalia.

So….what’s the point of including this in the first place? To annoy conservatives? To satisfy some obscure interest group? If this book were used in a sex ed class, that would be one thing. It would clearly belong. But in a standard biology text? I don’t really get it.

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In "News Is Just Like Waste Management," we unpack what the coronavirus crisis has meant for journalism, including Mother Jones’, and how we can rise to the challenge. If you're able to, this is a critical moment to support our nonprofit journalism with a donation: We've scoured our budget and made the cuts we can without impairing our mission, and we hope to raise $400,000 from our community of online readers to help keep our big reporting projects going because this extraordinary pandemic-plus-election year is no time to pull back.

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