We got news today from Gilbert, Arizona, an extended suburb of Phoenix. Last fall, the Tea Party majority on the Gilbert school board voted to remove mentions of abortion from the high school honors biology textbooks. They planned to do it by blacking out the text with Sharpies, perhaps, or by ripping out the pages entirely:
“The cheapest, least disruptive way to solve the problem is to remove the page,” said board member Daryl Colvin.
The board acted at the urging of the same group that backed gay discrimination bills in Indiana, Arkansas and Louisiana, the Alliance Defending Freedom. Based in Arizona, the Alliance insisted that Gilbert’s biology books were out of compliance with an Arizona law requiring school districts to present childbirth and adoption as preferable to abortion. But soon after the Tea Party majority decided to censor the biology books, voters in very conservative Gilbert decided to replace them with a new majority. Shortly afterward, the outgoing board reversed course and decided against going ahead with ripping pages out of biology textbooks.
From the beginning, superintendent Christina Kishimoto had warned her bosses on the board that removing information from the books would only send kids to the Internet to find out what they were missing. With the new majority taking over, Kishimoto told us late last year she would have a team of biology teachers go over the books this summer and likely put together two or three pages of information that they would include in an envelope glued to the inside back cover.
Last night, though, a local viewer emailed us Gilbert’s solution, and it turns out to be much smaller than expected.
As you can see below, teachers are adding this small sticker to the inside back cover of the honors biology textbooks.
The stickers read:
The Gilbert Public School District supports the state of Arizona’s strong interest in promoting childbirth and adoption over elective abortion. The District is also in support of promoting abstinence as the most effective way to eliminate the potential for unwanted pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases. If you have questions concerning sexual intercourse, contraceptives, pregnancy, adoption or abortion, we encourage you to speak with your parents.
What began with national headlines about a school district ready to shred textbooks now ends with an addition the size of a playing card. School officials in Gilbert have confirmed for us that the stickers are going into the textbooks, inside the back cover. In a written statement, superintendent Kishimoto says she worked closely with the board on the new plan: “The board and I have full confidence in our teachers and because we trust the way our teachers instruct, we agreed that this is the best course of action. We are pleased with the collaboration and completion of this matter.”
For the record, we still have the biology pages that were going to be redacted – front and back – at ArizonaHonorsBiology.com. If any educators in Arizona have a good use for the domain name, let us know. We would be happy to give the URL away to a good home.
P.S. Thanks to the viewer in Gilbert, Arizona, for the tip. If you’ve got news in your town, SendIttoRachel.com.