Molly Ivins once said of watching Texas politics, “Better than the zoo. Better than the circus.”
Some sick part of me is fascinated with the insanity that arises every day at our state capitol. Often the craziest legislation centers around sexuality and making sure that our Texas women don’t get too uppity.
In Texas, conservative “Trojan Horse” groups abound. They always have names that would give you the impression that they are on the other side of a given issue. Anne Newman is with the Women’s Wellness Coatition. Right away you have to give props to the name. It almost sounds like a group that works on women’s health issues. And they have a woman as a leader, so surely they would want women to have control over their own health choices, right? The group’s mission statement is vague enough where a young woman might expect the same kind of nondirective help she would find at Planned Parenthood:
Women’s Wellness Coalition of Texas is dedicated to providing life-affirming, patient-centered assistance to girls, women and families caught in the challenges of life. Members strive to provide support through knowledge, relationships, and resources to help ensure the most positive outcome in each individual circumstance.
It sounds like a warm broth but, surprise! Newman testified against allowing Planned Parenthood to provide any materials to school boards, even if such materials are selected by the school administration itself.
“I’m concerned about not only Planned Parenthood getting into the schools, but their materials getting into schools. Just from the Internet on ‘safer sex,’ one of the questions is: How can I have safer sex with my sex toys? Now, I ask you, do you want your children doing that?”
Fair enough. We all know Planned Parenthood comes to school presentations with blow up dolls and edible underwear. So, to keep our kiddies from coming home from school wearing pasties, Sen. Ken Paxton R- McKinney is proposing legislation that would ban Planned Parenthood from providing materials to public schools. He accused the organization of placing an inappropriate emphasis on sexual freedom. Jim Hightower responds:
Interestingly, neither he nor his Planned Parenthood-bashing supporters have found any examples of the demonized organization’s materials being used in Texas classrooms. But Paxton’s bill is almost comically panicky. Ramping up this goofiness, one alarmist even testified that Planned Parenthood’s secret agenda is to teach children how to use sex toys. –
I served on the Governor’s Task Force on Teen Pregnancy under Ann Richards and saw first hand the gulf between such well meaning efforts by frightened adults and the real choices that lie before many teenagers. I have listened to parents who lost their children in states that required parental consent. I have listened to teenagers who affirmed what some conservative legislator was proposing before our task force, and then told me privately that they just wanted to get the adults off their back.
I learned from that experience that we cannot force young people to live in the world as we imagine it should be. Instead, our role as adults, after we have told young people what we think is best, is to make sure that the choices that lie before them are as safe and healthy as we can possibly make them.