Kendall Stanley: On being a teacher

Given what’s happening in many legislatures across the country, it’s a wonder that teachers and school librarians aren’t leaving their jobs by the droves.

It’s like GOP legislators can’t wait to pass laws on what books can be used, what topics can’t be taught, what “rights” parents are entitled to — and many with criminal penalties attached to them. Each state, it seems, wants to one-up other states.

The problem with many of the laws coming down the pike are they are so ambiguous it is nigh onto impossible to figure out what is and isn’t allowed.

Kendall P. Stanley
Kendall P. Stanley

Here in Arizona, for example, a bill passed last year forbidding schools from teaching any books with “sexually explicit content” without parental permission. Fair enough, but this year’s bill adding to that would charge a teacher with a mandatory six-month prison sentence and loss of voting rights.

Another bill in the legislative pipeline would allow parents to ban books from a school if they personally found them to be “lewd or sexual in nature, to promote gender fluidity or gender pronouns or to groom children into normalizing pedophilia.”

Arizona Daily Star columnist Heather Mace noted recently, “SB1026, proposed by Sen. John Kavanagh, R-Fountain Hills, would freeze a school’s funding for 36 months if it allows any performance where actors dress in clothing and makeup opposite of their gender at birth. And SB1694, introduced by Hoffman, would forbid schools from requiring “diversity, equity, and inclusion programs” for their employees.

“While folks may debate the ethics, validity or necessity of these bills, their vague wording raises serious questions about how they would be implemented. For instance, if one parent labeled a book as “lewd,” could they ban it from the whole student body? If a boy wore a wig and dress for a school play, could his campus lose funding? What would happen if a high school teacher forgot that a short story she assigned included a brief sexual reference? Would we be legally obligated to send her to prison for that mistake?”

One parent’s lewd could be a turning point in a story that has social significance. And the teacher could go to prison? Insanity.

A teacher standing in line for a presentation at the Tucson Festival of Books put it succinctly a) if you tell a kid they can’t read a book, they will REALLY want to read that book and b) don’t parents realize all of the things their little Johnny or Susie can find on the internet?

In other words, the effort to keep lewd materials from students is futile, the ship to stop it has already sailed.

Here in Arizona we’ll just wait and see if Gov. Katie Hobbs is warming up her veto pen.


We can agree that as a corporation Walgreens has every right to decide what it will or won’t dispense in its pharmacies. Still, it was disheartening to see the retail giant cave to some state attorneys general who warned of legal consequences if Walgreens made abortion pills available in 20 states.

When the Supreme Court struck down Roe v. Wade it set off a scramble by the anti-abortion forces to make it difficult in some cases and impossible in others to get an abortion.

Even though the Food and Drug Administration had approved the abortion pills back in 2000 and generally sets policy for how it is dispensed, the attorneys general are saying you can’t dispense it or send it to states that have outlawed it.

It is especially worrying because now about half of all abortions in the U.S. use the abortion pills and not a more invasive procedure.

As I write this Rite Aid, CVS, Walmart and Kroger had not indicted to The Associated Press what their stance is on the abortion pill.

While Walgreens said it would seek approval to dispense the drug mifepristone in the states where abortions are allowed, that still leaves a big chunk of the country without that option.

The court’s ruling against Roe has pitted states against neighboring state if they allow abortions and has prompted enough laws to make your head spin. Legislatures are vying for the title of most anti-abortion state in the country.

Court battles are a given across the country and sooner or later some of those laws and policies may make their way back to the Supreme Court. The court’s decision against Roe may ultimately come back to bite it as lawsuit from the Dobbs decision spawns several suits that may end up back on the court’s docket.

The abortion wars will not end anytime soon.

— Kendall P. Stanley is retired editor of the News-Review. He can be contacted at The opinions expressed in this column are those of the writer and not necessarily of the Petoskey News-Review or its employees.

This article originally appeared on The Petoskey News-Review: Kendall Stanley: On being a teacher