Pretend for a moment you are a school board member in a nice red state, say, Arizona. Your school district has a nice red state sex education curriculum, which can be summed up in three words, “Don’t do it,” but you pad that main idea out to fill a one-term course.
Because kids in red states don’t do It. Not only that, they don’t even think about It, because their parents — and the school board — say so. It’s like Pleasantville before color cinematography crept in.
Red state school boards have this thing about control. They are the gatekeepers to students’ awareness of the world around them, and in red states, sex only happens after you’re married and only happens for the purpose of having kids. Oh, and it’s only between boys and girls. None of that blue-state same-sex or self-pleasuring nonsense. Nope. Not here.
Sex has a lot to do with biology, so rational people would probably expect a biology text to raise the whole question of how little Johnny and Suzy came into this world. Fortunately for you, red state school board member (RSSBM, for short), regular high school bio text books skirt embarrassing discussions of the mechanics of sex as much as they do the theory of evolution, because other RSSBMs in big red states like Texas have scared textbook publishers into producing pablum for the teenaged mind.
But books for the smart kids are different. Their writers figure that smart kids can handle details about sex and evolution without going all crazy after school in furtive orgies of sex and evolving.
So, what do you do, RSSBM, gatekeeper of young minds, when an honors biology textbook suggests that sex without having babies is not only possible, but available at the local druggist?
I’ll give you a minute to ponder this dilemma.
Got it? You betcha! You take your trusty X-acto knife and cut that information right out of the textbook. Out of all the textbooks. Because nothing says true RSSBM like a heady afternoon of razoring pages out of high school textbooks.
And once those pages are gone, no one will ever know. Kids will never know they can have sex and not have babies, because that page is gone, one, gone forever. Hahahahaha!
Oh, Sorry. I got carried away.
Dear reader, you might be thinking, what kind of bubbleheaded idiot believes teenagers don’t think about sex, or even try having sex, or magically have no awareness sex even exists? What kind of nincompoop would excise a page from a biology text just to preserve the school district sex education policy of “Don’t do it”? That kind of person must only exist in fiction, like in a novel by George Orwell or Margaret Atwood.
Wrong-o. Gilbert, Arizona, has ’em. Or did, until the community kicked their asses off the school board earlier this month. True story.
Indeed, the Gilbert schools have an abstinence-only sex ed program, the kind of program that practically guarantees teenagers will have babies out of wedlock, because (uncomfortable facts intrude) teenagers have sex. Red state. Blue state. Purple state. All state. There be sex everywhere, cap’n. There’s no stoppin’ them!
On top of all that, Arizona passed a law in 2012 that requires all school materials to promote childbirth or adoption, and not mention abortion as an alternative, because Jesus. Or something.
The publishers of Campbell’s Biology: Concepts & Connections, alas, didn’t get that memo, and in one paragraph on one page of this honor biology tome, they mentioned the morning-after pill, RU486, and unprotected intercourse in the same paragraph. Oh noez!
So, the Tea Party-heavy Gilbert school board, with the help of parents, just cut that page out of the books. Problem solved.
There’s something about the conservative mind that defies explanation. Cons think they live in a bubble world, in a Land That Time Forgot, where stupid right-wing tricks never get discovered, and sex only happens in marriage. There’s that whole Internet thing they forget about, too.
Long story short. Rachel Maddow, among others, got wind of the razoring of Campbell’s Biology, and in short order Gilbert became the laughing-stock of America. The Tea Party members lost their elections, and maybe, just maybe the new school board won’t be such wackjobs.
But I tell you, boys and girls, there are hundreds of RSSBMs in America. Some sit on state school boards, some on local boards, but they are out there, like bug-eyed monsters in a 1950s SF movie, methodically bending public education rightward. When they aren’t ignoring the fact that kids have sex and need more guidance than “don’t do it,” they’re insinuating creationism into biology texts, banning books from English classes, implying Moses was a Founding Father and teaching that the Bible led directly to the US Constitution and slavery was not really so bad.
They are out there. Watch out for them. Because the next Gilbert could be your hometown. Idiocy knows no boundaries.
Rachel Maddow did a very fine piece on this right here: