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Church State Issues

Mixing religion and government in schools in Gilbert, Arizona

Oct 31, 2014

Arizona Republic

Gilbert's waging a culture war over THAT?

The board voted Tuesday night to remove pages from an honors biology textbook because it does not give preference to childbirth or adoption over abortion.

Editorial board, The Republic | azcentral.com 4:59 p.m. MST October 30, 2014

Our View: Jon Stewart, take note. Gilbert Public Schools is refusing to honor its students' good sense.

No doubt about it, school districts often provide the battleground for our nation's endless series of cultural-war skirmishes.

A Lincoln, Neb., school district recently backed down from a preposterous edict that teachers stop using gender-specific designations like "boys and girls" when addressing students. Call them "purple penguins," instead, teachers were told.

Now, there's a harebrained notion perhaps worthy of some hell-raising at a district board meeting.

The Gilbert school board's objections to abortion-drug language in an honors-level biology textbook, on the other hand, is a battle that sensible conservatives in Gilbert should tell their board is just too petty to fight.

On a 3-2 vote, the Gilbert board this week chose to "edit" language in a biology text that includes a section on birth-control methods, and which mentions — along with several other methods — drugs that can induce an abortion.

State law forbids districts from using texts that present abortion favorably. The state Department of Education has reviewed the text, and it has assured the district that the book violates no state statute. Reciting various birth-control methods is not an indication of preference.

But this is the Gilbert school board, whose one-person conservative majority already has established a reputation for fighting cultural-war battles at the slightest provocation.

The question facing the Gilbert board now is a practical one: How do you "edit" the textbooks?

It is a question tailor-made for widespread mockery and districtwide humiliation. Do you hold page-ripping parties? Arm board members with Sharpies and Wite-Out? Or do you paste over the wicked references to birth control with pictures of rainbows and unicorns?

These are texts for an honors-level high-school biology class. The district needs to honor their students' good sense and go find a worthy culture war battle to fight. This is not one of them.