Biology book sparks Arizona row

Biology book sparks Arizona row

A school board in Gilbert Arizona has voted to excise or redact two pages of Campbell Biology: Concepts Connections, which has been handed out for years to students in honors biology classes at the high schools.

Why? Because the two pages – 544 and 545 – discuss sexually transmitted diseases and contraception, including mifepristone, a drug that can be used to prevent or halt a pregnancy.

Julie Smith, above, a member of the school board was among those who demanded the removal of the pages, which had been brought to her attention by her son.

She was driving her family home from church back in January when he told her about what was in the textbook.

I almost drove off the road. I’m Catholic; we do not contracept. It is a grave sin.

By including those pages in the curriculum you have violated my religious rights.

A law passed two years ago in Arizona requires schools to teach “preference, encouragement and support to childbirth and adoption” over abortion, and the school board decided that those pages were in violation of this law – even though the Arizona Education Department, which examined the book for compliance, found that they were not.

The controversy has turned into a referendum on the 2012 law, with supporters saying the textbook content cannot be removed fast enough and opponents crying foul for any number of reasons: technical, ethical, pedagogical.

But the Gilbert school board is moving forward, trying to figure out how to remove the material in question — by way of black markers or scissors, if need be — despite resistance from parents, residents, the American Civil Liberties Union and even the district’s superintendent.

Said Smith:

If people don’t like the law, they need to take it up with their state legislator. I don’t write the law. It’s my job to uphold it.

Others say that the school board has misinterpreted the law and that censoring the book amounts to a violation of students’ First Amendment rights – and may violate copyright law as well.

Said Alessandra Soler, executive director of the ACLU of Arizona.

The answer isn’t to redact pages from a science textbook. It’s an extreme interpretation, an incorrect interpretation, and I think it sends the wrong message. More information is always going to be better.

It was at a heated meeting last month that the school board voted, 3 to 2, that the two pages had to be removed somehow. The district is also reviewing three other biology books and two anatomy books.

In all, just over 3,000 students in Gilbert’s public high schools have science books with material that could be deemed objectionable, according to district officials.

The dispute has metastasized into fiery exchanges at board meetings, rumors about secret redacting sessions, and angry confrontations in local grocery stores.

One school board member, an opponent of censoring the book, was so unnerved by the swirl of gossip about her that she felt compelled to post on Facebook that she had not been endorsed by Planned Parenthood.

Christina M Kishimoto, the schools superintendent in Gilbert, who started in the job just this summer, has found herself caught in the crossfire.

I’m constantly getting emails about so-and-so threatening this or that. The accusations are going back and forth. It’s a distraction. It’s upsetting families.

28 responses to “Biology book sparks Arizona row”

  1. barriejohn says:

    I’m Catholic; we do not contracept. It is a grave sin.

    By including those pages in the curriculum you have violated my religious rights.

    What? These people are beyond a joke – and where the bloody hell did she get the word “contracept” from? Once again, the religious show themselves to be opposed to education and enlightenment, so no change there then, but does she really believe that children are going to be banished to hell just because they have READ about contraception? How does someone so barmy get on the school board?

    And here’s another one, in a story which has appeared on several sites recently, so sincere apologies if you’ve seen it already:

  2. sailor1031 says:

    If the kids don’t know about “contracepting”and what it is, isn’t there a great danger that they will commit this “grave sin”without realizing they have done so? Like the next time Julie Smith’s son wears a condom because his girl friend or boy friend insists?

    But she’s right that this information shouldn’t be in the high school biology book. It should be in the mandatory text for their mandatory sex-ed classes. And more than just a couple of pages!

  3. Angela_K says:

    According to the mythology, didn’t Mary – worshiped by the catholics – get banged up by some mythical being who wasn’t her husband? Had there been sex education of condoms back then, just think, the misery and lunacy of christianity wouldn’t have blighted humanity these past two thousand years.

    Barriejohn, PZ Myers ripped apart that christian loon over on his site a couple of days ago. I watched a few minutes of the video but Megan Fox, who this is all about, is so stupid she doesn’t know she is stupid.

  4. Marky Mark says:

    As for the article, what right does this woman have to censer the education of the thousands of children who do not believe in her make-believe world of talking snakes and magic fairies???

    Barriejohn…I watched the video and that woman lives not that far from me, I’m tempted to go an throw rotten eggs at her house…I’m sick of these people.

    “Megan Fox, who this is all about, is so stupid she doesn’t know she is stupid.” … I agree totally Angela_K

  5. L.Long says:

    Well Arizona is not too far from Texas and I’ve heard that STUPID!!! is a viral disease that spreads at fantastic speed especially among the sheeple.
    And where in the buyBull does it say ‘And thou shalt not wear a condom!’
    And it does not matter if these people are smart enough to use a shovel under close supervision, when it comes to important stuff they are so phucking stupid they have no concept of stupid!
    The one of the many things I like about my stay in England was that my kids started school in an English school and were taught about drugs and sex from day 1. My daughter watched a video about child birth and looked at the screen, looked down at her vagina, looked back at the baby coming out and swore ‘Nothing that big would come out of anything that small!!!’ THAT alone makes sex ed worth while.
    These people are not only stupid they are so terrified of questions from kids that they try to hide everything, until they wake up with two kids facing them with a problem.

  6. tonye says:

    Angela K,

    Cheers for that.

    That woman went to the museum with a determination to learn nothing.
    Being deliberately ignorant, when confronted with facts, is not something to be proud of.

    No doubt we have found the next ‘darling’ of religous television.


  7. TrickyDicky says:

    Reminds me of the expurgated version of Olsen’s Standard Book of British Birds , the one without the Gannet.

  8. Marky Mark says:

    I watched more of the video with this Megan Fox woman… I can’t believe there are people out there that are this stupid! She needs to be locked in a padded room and not out roaming around museums.

  9. Trevor Blake says:

    “I’m Catholic; we do not contracept. It is a grave sin.”

    The magdalen laundries, the sheltering of clergy rapists, are those grave sins as well? Because they certainly are Catholic.

  10. Paul Cook says:

    They do ‘contracept’ – whatever that stupid statement means. The pope many years ago as head of the rcc has given guidance that the rhythm method is to be used. If that isn’t contraception (by default) I don’t know what is.

  11. Har Davids says:

    We do not contracept! How many children does this woman have?

  12. Rob Andrews says:

    In the picture above she reminds of the comedian Lily Tomlin. She played a character called ‘The Church Lady’. A narrow minded bigot. This was featured on a comedy show called ‘Rowan and Martins Laugh in’ back in the 60s.

    I’m shure any American over 55 years old will remember the person I’m talking about. She also played a telephone operator on the same show.
    Check out her photo:

  13. Broga says:

    It is characteristic of Christians like Smith that they are never content to pursue their weird beliefs by themselves but must force them on others. I have just begun reading Bart D. Ehrman’s book on who wrote the bible i.e. the inerrant word of God to those like Smith.

    Already, I learn that it wasn’t written by the disciples who, to quote Ehrman, could have written their gospels “to save their souls.” The disciples were illiterate.

    The Gospels were written by unknown writers who put disciples’ names to them to give them influence. There were scores of these forgers and liars and some of their work happened to be selected for inclusion. Of course, all this must be known to Frankie and assorted clergy from various versions of Christianity. They certainly don’t want this to be known by the gullible Christians.

  14. barriejohn says:

    Rob Andrews: I remember clips of Rowan & Martin being shown here at the time. The show was so popular that Billy Graham decided that it would be a great thing for him to make a fool of himself by appearing on it. He made stupid jokes about Jesus being “a friend of publicans and sinners”, which didn’t go down well with strait-laced Christians, I can tell you!

    Here’s Lily Tomlin:

  15. barriejohn says:

    Broga: I really believe that there are no depths to which these chartlatans will not sink in their efforts to con the gullible. I am fed up today with assorted clerics telling us on BBC News how wonderful it was that “more were not killed” when the police helicopter fell from the sky in Glasgow a year ago (why didn’t he prevent the accident in the first place?), and now I learn that Frankie himself is next year to “venerate the Shroud of Turin” – an object which he MUST know is a complete fake:

  16. Stephen Mynett says:

    I am currently reading Richard Carrier’s latest book “On the historicity of Jesus” (

    There is considerable evidence to show that the Jesus character as depicted by theists today, did not exist, in fact he may well have never have existed other than as a myth. Of course, all that is irrelevant to the bible brigade.

  17. Robster says:

    Proving yet again the christianity is a death cult, this batsh*t mad godbot brings death into it again by calling the teaching of fact a “grave sin”.

  18. Paul Cook says:

    @Stephen Mynett

    NO! thats outrageous. jeuses didn’t exist! Whatever next. The apologists will be saying there is absolutely no contemporary evidence of his life, from two of the worlds best administrators, the Egyptians and the Romans, ummmmmm because god hid it all. ……..

    Next we might have someone say mohamed didn’t exist because …. hmmmm there is no contemporary evidence….. (there are however, several mohamed’s who may have existed, who have been combined into …. a myth).

  19. Stephen Mynett says:

    Paul, don’t forget that their god also inspired the forgery of the Testimonium Flavianum just to test our faith.

  20. Broga says:

    @barriejohn and Stephen Mynett: I am just discovering Bart D. Ehrman and he makes an excellent context for Richard Dawkins. Dawkins, of whom I am an enthusiastic reader, is a polemicist and I like his bold attacks. As I do others with the same approach.

    Ehrman, former convinced and fundamentalist Christian, lays out the evidence, balances the likely with the impossible, and demonstrates a knowledge of biblical and ancient world research that is detailed and seemingly total.

    And yet, as it is Sunday, the airwaves are already saturated with religion which any open minded reader could discover is based on lies. The churches rely on people too passive to be bothered. To be a believer you have to be ignorant or intellectually idle or one of the many faux believers who are there for social reasons or financial advantage and career needs.


  21. Rob Andrews says:

    @barriejohn: RE: Helicopter crash in Glasgow.

    The standard answer iI get to tragic death like this would be “god works in mysterious ways”. Or in the death of a child ” God wanted another angel”. People have actually said this to me! Or just don’t say anything at all.

    I never get tired of recomending these books:
    “Why I’m not a Christian”-B. Russell
    “Why I am not a Muslim”.-Ibn Warraq

  22. Paul Cook says:

    You need to be careful with B Erhman he does at some points ( in at least one of his books, that Sam Harris points in End of faith I think) accept without question Jesus exists and ( for an otherwise knowledgable man) cites absolutely no evidence for ‘him’ but I think he quotes the bible.

    I also think Erhman is a believer – I don’t think he is an atheist but I may be wrong.

    Anyway all this is true as I just said so.

  23. Broga says:

    @Paul Cook: Thanks. I will be wary. I suppose, having been heavily indoctrinated, Ehrman has some residues of his beliefs. Although, barriejohn who seems to have also been heavily indoctrinated has junked (is there such a word?) the lot.

  24. Paul Cook says:

    @ Broga
    I found the quote. This is Ehrman himself in jesus Interrupted.
    ” What sources do we have for Jesus? Well, we have multiple sources in the Gospels of the New Testament. That part is good.”
    Page 143. (on kindle)
    But then he says this at page 148
    “What do Greek and Roman sources have to say about Jesus? Or to make the question more pointed: if Jesus lived and died in the first century (death around 30 CE), what do the Greek and Roman sources from his own day through the end of the century (say, the year 100) have to say about him? The answer is breathtaking. They have absolutely nothing to say about him. He is never discussed, challenged, attacked, maligned, or talked about in any way in any surviving pagan source of the period. There are no birth records, accounts of his trial and death, reflections on his significance, or disputes about his teachings. In fact, his name is never mentioned once in any pagan source. And we have a lot of Greek and Roman sources from the period: religious scholars, historians, philosophers, poets, natural scientists; we have thousands of private letters; we have inscriptions placed on buildings in public places. In no first-century Greek or Roman (pagan) source is Jesus mentioned.”

    The way I read Ehrman is he simply accepts jesus was real. That is quite incredible considering his ‘serious’ research and comments about Roman, Greek/pagan sources.

    I think this sums up Ehramn on jesus. (Note where the “sources” are from)
    “One of the best attested sayings of Jesus found in a number of our independent sources is a prediction that at the coming onslaught, at the end of the age, the Temple itself would be destroyed (Mark 13:2; 14:58; 15:29).”

  25. Broga says:

    @Paul Cook: In the book I’m reading Ehrman describes how fundamentalists manage to believe that the bible is the truth. The answer is that they just believe it. What they read must be accepted as true because it is in the bible. That’s it .Despite the contradictions etc.

    Ehrman may be infected with the same condition despite revealing so many reasons why belief in Jesus is incredible. I never grew up heavily indoctrinated although I heard all the bible stories and hymns.

  26. Paul Cook says:

    He writes very well. His books are ‘enjoyable’ – I have read a few.
    But, as a freethinker one needs to approach his books with caution, as he accepts without question that Jesus is real even though he destroys there may have been a Jesus or he was real by solid sensible logical argument – his problem is after that he concludes Jesus is real as it is in the babble. He uses circular logic, which is illogical and silly.
    Frankly speaking, he destroys his own argument more effectively than any Christian believer or apologist could, and I think he makes himself look stupid.

  27. 1859 says:

    Actually, I couldn’t give a monkey’s piss about whether jesus existed or not. If he did exist and went around telling everyone he was the son of god and his mother was a virgin, then he was clearly a schizophrenic lunatic with the brains of a chocolate pudding. If he didn’t exist, then all those christians who now worship the guy, they too must be schizophrenic lunatics with brains like chocolate pudding. The whole thing is the biggest scam ever perpetrated – the mighty road-show of religion, with it’s stars and stunts!

  28. Vanity Unfair says:

    “Why? Because the two pages – 544 and 545 – discuss sexually transmitted diseases and contraception, including mifepristone, a drug that can be used to prevent or halt a pregnancy.”
    That’s a lot of information for two pages that, incidentally, could not be removed alone from a book. 544 would normally be a verso and 545 a recto so removing those two would also lose 543 and 546. Perhaps the edges of the pages could be glued and a parental advisory included thereby ensuring that these are the only pages that everybody reads.
    Why is it that the only people whose religious rights need protection are those who believe that nobody else has religious rights?