Sex Ed Battles: Via the Washington Post, in Montgomery County, Md., opponents of a new sex-education curriculum approved by the school board last year — the first in the district to address sexual orientation as a classroom topic — are challenging the part that describes homosexuality as innate, insisting it doesn’t meet the “factually accurate” standard set by Maryland state law.
Opponents also object to references made during the condom instruction to anal and oral sex. Their attorney said those passages violate a state prohibition against material that “portrays erotic techniques of sexual intercourse.” The case is being heard by Circuit Court Judge William Rowan III, who is expected to issue a written ruling. Here’s more background.
And in Park Ridge, Ill., there’s controversy over a freshman high school biology curriculum at Maine South High School (which happens to be where Hillary Clinton spent her senior year) that teaches about birth control. The lessons follow state code, said School Superintendent Joel Morris, but some parents are less than enthusiastic, especially about the part describing how to put on a condom.
Choice Stories: Courtney Martin reviews a new anthology, “Choice: True Stories of Birth, Contraception, Infertility, Adoption, Single Parenthood, and Abortion,” edited by Karen E. Bender and Nina de Gramont.
“In consistently original voices and beautifully crafted writing (not always such a hallmark of anthologies),” writes Martin, “these stories enfold you in a dark but deeply compelling fog and remind you of how totally powerful and pained we sometimes are.”
Birth Trends: The Washington Post looks at college-educated couples who have decided to have children while they’re still in their 20s, which strikes some as very young; according to demographic research, college-educated mothers are usually about 30 when they give birth to their first child.
“This is very significant data. It’s giving numbers to a trend people have been only inferring,” said Stephanie Coontz, director of research at the Council on Contemporary Families. The data, she said, show that “there is this increasing divergence of highly educated women and less-educated women.”
Politics and Misogyny: You probably already read Bob Herbert’s amazing column this week, but if somehow you missed it, go now for honest truths like this: “If there was ever a story that deserved more coverage by the news media, it’s the dark persistence of misogyny in America. Sexism in its myriad destructive forms permeates nearly every aspect of American life. For many men, it’s the true national pastime, much bigger than baseball or football.”
The Chris Matthews Fairy Tale: Echidne of the Snakes offers an all-inclusive take-down of Chris Matthews’ sexist comments about Hillary Clinton and other female politicians and authors. You might call Matthews’ apology a wee bit “incomplete.”
The Correct Clinton Stereotype: In an op-ed at the L.A. Times about gender stereotypes, author Susan Faludi describes a recent experience she had watching women skillfully and persistently handle their mothers’ medical needs and relates it to attitudes toward Hillary Clinton.
Global Population Under a Democratic President: “If a Democratic president enters the White House about a year from now, some experts in family planning anticipate a boon for mankind: a greater effort by the United States government to restrain world population growth,” writes Christian Science Monitor columnist David R. Francis in this piece on reversing the global gag rule.
Doctors Respond to Email: Ever see a health email take on a life of its own? Tara Parker-Pope at the New York Times reports on a controversial message that has circulated online for years urging women to request a special blood test (CA-125) to screen themselves for ovarian cancer. A group of doctors has responded with their own email that they hope will soon be communicated as far and wide.
Deep Freeze: As I write, it’s 2 degrees in Chicago — and it’s expected to plunge to -20 below with wind chill. According to The New York Times, I have no excuse not to stick to my running. (Damn.) Of course, anyone with a fireplace and a good winter brew can easily convince me otherwise … Hope you all are warm!