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Arizona Voters Abort Biology-Textbook-Censoring School Board
So here's one more bit of Election Nice Time: turns out that even in hyper-conservative Gilbert, Arizona, a bedroom community to the Phoenix metro horrorplex, it is in fact possible for a conservative school board to go to far. And it looks like the Gilbert School Board's decision last week to razor out a page from an Honors Biology textbook in the high school -- because it mentions the abortion pill -- is what counts as too far: the good people of Gilbert elected two new members and reelected an anti-censorship member, replacing the Tea Party-leaning majority on the board with a new majority that is firmly against slicing out a page from a biology textbook out of fear that high schoolers will learn that abortion exists. There were other tensions between the board and the community, too, but the textbook censorship seems to have been the last straw.
Of course, that doesn't mean the drama's really over, since the new board won't be seated until January, and the current board has not said that it will defer to the voters and leave the textbooks alone. In fact, as Rachel Maddow reported Thursday, the lame duck board has announced it will also remove references to abortion in four other texts used in the school districts.
The board originally voted to chop the offending page out of the textbook because it believed that the mention of mifepristone -- aka RU486 -- violated a stupid 2012 Arizona law requiring that all instructional materials promote “childbirth or adoption” instead of abortion. Here's the dirty salacious pro-'bortion passage in question:
Now, never mind that the passage doesn't say "hey sluts, please go abort your precious babbies and don't even think of giving them up for adoption" or that a lawyer for the Arizona Department of Education issued an opinion saying that the passage didn't violate the law, because, again, it doesn't advocate anything. The board knew what the right thing to do was, and that was to razor out the whole page. Parents even volunteered to help. And remember, as board member Julie Smith explained, "By redacting, we are not censoring," because after all the school district still offers sex ed classes that comply with Arizona's law. She insisted it would only be censorship if the board had voted to remove sex ed from the curriculum altogether (and god knows they probably would have gotten there eventually).
As of right now, the books haven't yet gone under the X-Acto knife, and it's not certain whether they will. Considering the combination of Arizona, Tea Party loons, abortion, and the outgoing board's certainty that it is doing God's work, we are not optimistic that the textbooks will survive unscathed until January. And thanks to the diligent staff of the Rachel Maddow Show,we now know what's on the opposite side of the page that may be razored out: a discussion of sperms. Nobody needs to know that troublesome nonsense, either. The Maddow show has purchased the domain "ArizonaHonorsBiology.com" to host images of the threatened pages, just in case they do go away forever.
Suggestion to Gilbert High honors biology students: keep those books at home -- an intact one with a "Gilbert HS" stamp on it could be worth well more as a collector's item than the fine for not returning it!