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Mississippi’s Fucked Up Sex-Ed Curriculum

anti-gay-protest

The Article: Mississippi’s Sex-Ed Classes Teach Kids That Homosexuality Is Illegal, Even Though It Isn’t by Jonathan Cohn in The New Republic.

The Text: Mississippi’s sex-ed curriculum is not notable for its progressive nature. But one thing you can’t say about the Magnolia State is that it follows the advice of some conservative parents who want schools to totally ignore homosexuality. In fact, state law mandates that the subject be discussed, at least briefly: Students are to be told that homosexual activity is illegal.

Mississippi, whose governor just signed a noxious anti-gay bill, is not the only state with such a clause in its sex ed curriculum. Neighboring Alabama requires that instructors teach that “homosexuality is not a lifestyle acceptable to the general public and that homosexual conduct is a criminal offense.” In fact, the Supreme Court rendered all state laws against gay sex unenforceable in 2003, when it struck down an anti-sodomy law in Texas.

mississippi-sex-ed

In Mississippi, the gay-sex-is-illegal mandate is among the less-noticed aspects of a sex-ed curriculum that has seen a fair amount of controversy lately. A Los Angeles Times story last week, by Alena Semuels, focused on the challenges of teaching sexual education in a place where so many communities oppose it—even though the teen pregnancy rate is among highest in the nation. Since 2012, Mississippi has mandated that all districts must now offer some kind of sex ed. But, by law, the basis for the curriculum is abstinence. Classes are supposed to make clear that “a mutually faithful, monogamous relationship in the context of marriage is the only appropriate setting for sexual intercourse.” The only question is whether classes also include basic information about things like birth control and sexually transmitted diseases. The state leaves that decision, between “abstinence-only” and “abstinence-plus,” to the school districts—although 12 percent have opted not to teach any kind of sex ed at all, in apparent defiance of the law.

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Why Black Americans Have Such A Hard Time Climbing The Economic Ladder

Black Americans

The Article: Down and Out by Jamelle Bouie in Slate.

The Text: “We didn’t run from where we grew up. We aren’t afraid to be associated with the people who came up with us.”

That’s Richard Sherman of the Seattle Seahawks writing in defense of his friend, DeSean Jackson, who was cut from the Philadelphia Eagles amid reports of gang ties. Sherman isn’t trying to litigate the allegations or exonerate Jackson—he doesn’t know the details. But he doesn’t think it’s wrong for Jackson to associate with the men from his childhood.

And why would it be? Yes, some of them have criminal records—and for some, that includes gang activity—but leaving home is hard, and the social distance of wealth makes it even harder. As Sherman writes, “In desperate times for people who come from desperate communities, your friends become your family. I wouldn’t expect DeSean to ‘distance himself’ from anybody, as so many people suggest pro athletes ought to do despite having no understanding of what that means.”

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Vote Jeb If You Want A Civil War In The GOP

Jeb Bush

The Article: The Bush Schism by John Dickerson in Slate.

The Text: Jeb Bush is having a moment. For two months or so, as Chris Christie’s presidential fortunes have appeared abridged, people who have supported the New Jersey governor (or at least are predisposed to support him) have started mentioning the former two-term Florida governor as a possible 2016 candidate. Should the federal investigation into the George Washington Bridge lane closures become a full-blown calamity, several have said, perhaps Bush could be lured into the race. Now the Washington Post’s Philip Rucker and Robert Costa report that the whispers have grown into a draft-Bush movement.

The argument for a Bush run is that he has a governor’s executive skills, can forge a relationship with crucial Hispanic voters (particularly in a key swing state), and has a fundraising base founded, in part, on a reservoir of goodwill toward the Bush family. Republicans are sick of being out of the White House and want a winner. Perhaps, but Bush is also the perfect candidate if your goal is driving simultaneous wedges into as many fault lines in the Republican Party as possible.

The first problem is his heritage. On domestic issues, the Bush family is synonymous among some conservatives with tax increases and federal spending. Perhaps the greatest sin in the modern conservative movement is George H. W. Bush’s 1990 budget deal where he traded tax increases for budget savings. Jeb Bush, on the other hand, has cited his father’s compromise as the epitome of presidential leadership. George W. Bush is criticized for his lack of spending restraint as well as his support for the Troubled Asset Relief Program (which some might count as the second greatest sin).

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Robert Reich On The Koch Brothers And The Danger Of American Plutocracy

Koch Brothers

The Article: The Koch Brothers and the Danger of American Plutocracy by Robert Reich in Bill Moyers Online.

The Text: Charles and David Koch should not be blamed for having more wealth than the bottom 40 percent of Americans put together. Nor should they be condemned for their petrochemical empire. As far as I know, they’ve played by the rules and obeyed the laws.

They’re also entitled to their own right-wing political views. It’s a free country.

But in using their vast wealth to change those rules and laws in order to fit their political views, the Koch brothers are undermining our democracy. That’s a betrayal of the most precious thing Americans share.

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How Evangelicals Won A Culture War And Lost A Generation

Evangelicals

The Article: How evangelicals won a culture war and lost a generation by Rachel Held Evans in CNN Online.

The Text: On March 24, World Vision announced that the U.S. branch of the popular humanitarian organization would no longer discriminate against employees in same-sex marriages.

It was a decision that surprised many but one that made sense, given the organization’s ecumenical nature.

But on March 26, World Vision President Richard Stearns reversed the decision, stating, “our board acknowledged that the policy change we made was a mistake.”

Supporters helped the aid group “see that with more clarity,” Stearns added, “and we’re asking you to forgive us for that mistake.”

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