Unless You’re There with Me

1830VAConstConv01

Dear Arizona Legislature,

With all the lovely, vomitous anti-reproductive rights (because let’s face it, you’ve already decided that “merely” working to outlaw abortion is not extreme enough) bills you’ve been introducing lately, please do not think that Senate Bill 1009 has escaped my eye. It’s not enough to play at being doctors; now you want to play at being teachers, too?

In case you didn’t read it, here it is in near entirety:

A. IN VIEW OF THE STATE’S STRONG INTEREST IN PROMOTING CHILDBIRTH AND
7 ADOPTION OVER ELECTIVE ABORTION, NO SCHOOL DISTRICT OR CHARTER SCHOOL IN THIS
8 STATE MAY ENDORSE OR PROVIDE FINANCIAL OR INSTRUCTIONAL PROGRAM SUPPORT TO
9 ANY PROGRAM THAT DOES NOT PRESENT CHILDBIRTH AND ADOPTION AS PREFERRED
10 OPTIONS TO ELECTIVE ABORTION.
11 B. IN VIEW OF THE STATE’S STRONG INTEREST IN PROMOTING CHILDBIRTH AND
12 ADOPTION OVER ELECTIVE ABORTION, NO SCHOOL DISTRICT OR CHARTER SCHOOL IN THIS
13 STATE MAY ALLOW ANY PRESENTATION DURING INSTRUCTIONAL TIME OR FURNISH ANY
14 MATERIALS TO PUPILS AS PART OF ANY INSTRUCTION THAT DOES NOT GIVE PREFERENCE,
15 ENCOURAGEMENT AND SUPPORT TO CHILDBIRTH AND ADOPTION AS PREFERRED OPTIONS TO
16 ELECTIVE ABORTION.

If I may say this with every bit of kindness and respect you deserve — You really have no fucking clue, do you?

No clue what it’s like to be the third ninth grader to come to me this year — this time at the beginning of lunch, outside of instructional minutes — in tears, nearly gasping out the words, terrified she might be pregnant. And probably no clue what it’s like to look into a face so despondent and so scared.

I know this will not please you, but I can only answer with the truth.

This is where and how you can take a test in order to know for sure; that is step one. If the test is negative, these are the people who will talk to you about future contraceptive options if you want them. If the test is positive, these are the people who can help you with your options. Yes, they will help you if you decide to have the baby and keep the baby. And yes, they will help you if you decide to have the baby and arrange an adoption. And yes, they will help you if you choose to have an abortion.

Why? Because whatever the “state’s strong interest,” my strong interest lies in fully and fairly informing my students in order to make their own best decisions.

And while I know this statute speaks to instructional time and curriculum rather than what happens during “off time,” here’s the thing — what I’ve said already is what I would say if asked during class.

Because I have — state mandated, mind you — content area standards and performance objectives that center on “locat[ing] and evaluat[ing] information about… a question”* as well as “synthesiz[ing] information from multiple sources… to solve a problem.”** I have a pedagogical duty to teach my students the process of good decision making for themselves rather than to thrust my own — or the state’s — conclusions upon them. And I have a moral imperative to support my students with nothing less than the full truth.

If you don’t believe in that silly little “truth” thing, fine — but please save it for when students are coming to you with their pregnancy fears. Unless you’re there with me, with them, with us, you really just don’t know — and in this case, you’re so very wrong that it’s shameful.

* Arizona Reading Standard Articulated by Grade Level, Grade 9.
** Arizona Writing Standard Articulated by Grade Level, Grade 9.

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3 comments on “Unless You’re There with Me
  1. Jessie E. says:

    It is amazing and wonderful that your students feel safe coming to you with things like that.

    • Tori says:

      They’ve been doing it for years, and I’m surprised every time it happens. That said, I like to think that one of the reasons it does happen is that students know I will tell them the most complete information that I know in the least biased way that I can. Apparently, however, an informed electorate is not a “strong interest” of the state of Arizona. :/

  2. [...] and tired to death of hearing about Arizona’s flurry of woman-hating legislative endeavors. There is one, however, that I just found about from a blog of a teacher from Arizona who resents the…. Libertarians, hello? How come there is never a single peep out of you when the government intrudes [...]

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