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Some on Texas Education Board Criticized 'Asexual Stealth
The Board of Education decision could affect many states because books sold in Texas, the nation's second-largest textbook buyer, often are marketed elsewhere.
The decision Friday, which involves two of the biggest textbook publishers, is an example of Texas exerting its clout as the nation's second-largest buyer of textbooks. Officials say the decision could affect hundreds of thousands of books in Texas alone.
Board member Terri Leo, a Republican, said she was pleased with the publishers' changes. She led the effort to get the publishers to change the texts, objecting to what she called ''asexual stealth phrases'' such as ''individuals who marry.''
Leo charged that the proposed new books for the state's middle schools and high schools ran counter to a Texas law banning the recognition of gay civil unions because the texts used terms like ''married partners'' instead of ''husband and wife.''
''Marriage has been defined in Texas, so it should also be defined in our health textbooks that we use as marriage between a man and a woman,'' Leo said.
After hearing the debate Thursday, one publisher, Holt, Rinehart and Winston, agreed to include a definition of marriage as a ''lifelong union between a husband and a wife.'' The definition, which was added to middle school textbooks, already was in Holt's high school editions, Holt spokesman Rick Blake said.
The other publisher, Glencoe/McGraw-Hill, changed phrases such as ''when two people marry'' and ''partners'' to ''when a man and a woman marry'' and ''husbands and wives.''
''The board expressed an interest in having us'' make the change, Blake said. ''We thought it was a reasonable thing to do.''
But Blake said the publisher does not plan to add its definition of marriage in books that will be sold outside Texas. A spokeswoman for Glencoe/McGraw-Hill did not immediately respond to questions.
A list of the books that were approved by the board, as well as those that were not, are sent to school districts for guidance when they choose books.
Board member Mary Helen Berlanga, a Democrat, asked the panel to approve the books without the changes, but her proposal was rejected on a 10-4 vote.
''We're not supposed to make changes at somebody's whim,'' Berlanga said. ''It's a political agenda, and we're not here to follow a political agenda.''
Neither publisher added all the changes Leo initially pushed for. For instance, one proposed passage in the teacher's editions read: ''Opinions vary on why homosexuals, lesbians and bisexuals as a group are more prone to self-destructive behaviors like depression, illegal drug use, and suicide.''
Randall Ellis, the executive director of the Lesbian/Gay Rights Lobby of Texas, said the board overstepped its bounds in suggesting and adopting the new wording.
''Their job is to review for factual information and instead what we see is the insertion of someone's ideology and agenda into the textbook of middle-schoolers,'' Ellis said.
The board's approval caps months of debate over health textbooks. Much of the debate had centered on how much sex education should be included in high school books.
A controversy arose last year in Texas when the board approved new
biology textbooks that contained Charles Darwin's theory of
evolution, brushing aside opposition from religious groups.
Source: by Natalie Gott, aolsvc.news.aol.com/news/article.adp?id=20041105103609990008