Thursday, March 03, 2005

Utah schools face a dilemma

According to this Salt Lake Tribune article, some southern Utah school districts are looking for psychology textbooks that will not even mention homosexuality. The problem being, of course, that the teachers and administrators can't find any. That's the joke, of course, but the article suggests some more serious issues.

Apparently, there's a law on the books of the great Beehive state that schools can't "advocate" homosexuality. This gets interpreted in different ways in different areas, with Provo and Salt Lake school districts treading lightly around the subject and other districts interpreting the statute as meaning that any mention should "point out the negative consequences" of being gay.

(It goes almost--but not quite--without saying that this ban on speaking frankly and fairly about queerness will have serious negative consequences on the health and safety of young Utahns who are or become queer.)

What interests me most about the article is this quote from Salt Lake City District spokesman:
"Our policy is that if any material might be sensitive or offensive, a reading list of books is put together for parents to read and opt out [of enrolling their students] if they want to."

Since the psychology class in dispute is an AP class rather than a required one, parents have the choice of deciding whether the purity of their children's ears is more important than qualifying for exams that could improve their children's education. I wonder whether this approach might work in some of the other hotly disputed subject fields--like biology.


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