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Saturday, February 26, 2005

Board of Re-Education 

Terry Leo of the Texas State Board of Education proposed 72 revisions to middle- and high-school health textbooks last November, and a few of them turned up in the March Harper's (not, alas, online). Suggested additions are in bold:
Later in adolescence, or in early adulthood, most people males and females begin to form romantic relationships based on love.

The sex hormones your body produces may make you interested in relationships with others the opposite sex. Friendships and dating relationships help you prepare for adult relationships stable marital commitment.

If you discuss the issue of homosexuality in class, discuss it respectfully. Be be aware that someone in your class may be homosexual, or have a friend who is homosexual. Texas law rejects homosexual "marriage." Students can therefore maintain that homosexuality and heterosexuality are not moral equivalents, without being charged with "hate speech."

Surveys indicate that 3 to 10 percent of the population is gay. Opinions vary on No one knows for sure why some people are straight, some are bisexual, and others homosexuals, lesbians, and bisexuals as a group are gay more prone to self-destructive behaviors like depression, illegal drug use, and suicide.
UPDATE: Mere seconds after posting the above we popped over to Pharyngula and stumbled across a link (in a related article that will also reward your attention) to our learned colleague P.Z. Myers's November profile of Ms. Leo, whom he describes as "Sultana of the Texas Taliban, Scourge of Scholars, Despoiler of Textbooks":
She's a perfect example of anti-science, anti-intellectual, intolerant bigotry, and yet there she is, on the state board of education. That's like hearing that Richard Dawkins has been elected by the College of Cardinals to the papacy, or that the new head of the NIH is Bluto Blutarski. She just doesn't belong there . . . .

The real tragedy is that this ghastly dim harridan is guarding the gateway to the second largest textbook market in the country, and she's leading the publishers around by the dingus . . . . So I have a suggestion: how about if every other state in the union agreed that if a textbook were watered down enough to meet the standards of Texas, it was then inadequate for use in their school systems? It's getting to the point where publishers need to put out two editions of every book, one with reasonable academic standards for markets like California and Minnesota, and a "for dummies" version for Texas.
COMPLETELY IRRELEVANT SIDEBAR: A Mr. Fish cartoon, from the Harper's website:



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