Grand Divisions

Tennessee Equality Project seeks to advance and protect the civil rights of our State’s gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender persons and their families in each Grand Division.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

What are the limits of natural human reproduction science?

Will an amendment to HB0229
prohibit abstinence education?
At a hearing later today, the State House Subcommittee on Education will consider an amendment to HB0229, otherwise known as the "Don't Say G_y" bill. The amendment would match language approved by the  Tennessee Senate last year in SB0049:
Notwithstanding any other law to the contrary, any instruction or materials made available or provided at or to a public elementary or middle school shall be limited exclusively to natural human reproduction science. The provisions of this subdivision shall also apply to a group or organization that provides instruction in natural human reproduction science in public elementary or middle schools.
No one is really sure what limiting instruction and materials to "natural human reproduction science" really means. Google it. You won't find an accepted definition for this phrase: only news reports on legislation. The amendment raises questions about the potential impact of the legislation on curriculum standards for grades K-8. We've attempted to answer some of them.

1. Will teachers be allowed to discuss the ethics of human cloning or assign a debate on it in a social studies or essay writing unit? May the first "test-tube baby" be discussed in a history class? Will it be permitted to assign students essays or debates on so-called artificial reproductive technology or infertility treatments? 
No. In-vitro fertilization, cloning, adoption, frozen embryos, and other non-natural reproductive methods used to create families would fall outside the scope of “natural human reproductive science.” Teachers would be forbidden from discussing these topics. Reference materials on these subjects in school libraries would have to be removed 
2. Will it be permitted to assign a science fiction book on human cloning in class or for such a book to be on the reading list for a class? 
No. At least twenty four (24) science fiction books and stories about human cloning would have to be removed from library shelves.. Students would not be allowed to give books reports on these books. 
3. Will teachers and counselors or DCS/DHS personnel be allowed to discuss and give out material on rape and sexual abuse? 
Probably not. Discussions about resources available to victims of rape, such as referrals to health facilities that offer such methods of reproduction may be off limits. 
4. May a teacher discuss adoption?
Probably not. Adoption is not natural human reproduction for adoptive parents. Adoption is a legal process pursued by adoptive parents that is sometimes facilitated by the Department of Children Services and other child welfare agencies. Fiction and non-fiction books on adoption would have to be removed from school libraries. 
5. Is it permitted for a teacher to discuss abstinence? 
Probably not. Abstinence is the opposite of “natural human reproduction.” Educational materials and programs which include abstinence as a means of avoiding pregnancy or the contraction of sexually transmitted diseases would be prohibited. 
6. May a teacher discuss the causes of the global HIV/AIDS epidemic? 
Age-appropriate discussions about HIV or sexually transmitted diseases that include mention of sexual activities that fall outside natural human reproduction science (oral or anal sex) would be prohibited. Students could be led to believe that certain sexual activities pose no risk to them. 
- Jonathan Cole

No comments: