Power To The People In Ohio: The Initiative Petition

by Logan Cook, staff writer

SEPTEMBER 2022 — Ohio citizens may not realize they possess the ability to place their own laws on statewide ballots. Citizens can exercise this ability via rights laid out in Article 2 of the Ohio Constitution.

The first sentence of Article 2 Section 1a of the Ohio Constitution reads, “The first aforestated power reserved by the people is designated the initiative, and the signatures of ten per centum of the electors shall be required upon a petition to propose an amendment to the constitution.”

Pictured above is the Ohio State House, home of the Ohio General Assembly. The Ohio General Assembly includes both houses of the legislature, the Ohio House of Representatives and the Ohio Senate. The current Ohio Constitution was written and approved in the Ohio State House. Image is public domain courtesy of the Capitol Square Review and Advisory Board.

If a citizen is to propose a law and gather signatures amounting to a certain percentage of the number of votes in the last gubernatorial election (elections relating to a state governor or their office), that law can be placed on a statewide ballot in the next election cycle. This is known as the Initiative Petition.

The goal of the Initiative Petition is to provide Ohio voters with the opportunity to bring issues that are important to them to the ballot, as opposed to only allowing the Ohio General Assembly to draft and approve laws. Constitutional amendments, whether proposed by the General Assembly or Initiative Petition will always go to ballot in Ohio.

Ohio General Assembly Legislators ratified the current state constitution in 1912, which included the current Article 2. Since then, via laws published in the Ohio Revised Code, the process to place an Initiative Petition on the ballot has been clarified.

According to Steven H. Steinglass of The Cleveland-Marshall Public Law Library, Ohio voters most recently passed one of these clarification laws in 2015, “[approving] an antimonopoly amendment that placed obstacles in the way of proposed initiated amendments that would create  monopolies, specify or determine tax rates, or provide special benefits not generally available to others.”

For 110 years, no constitutional amendments have been approved to remove or weaken Article 2, maintaining Ohio citizens’ right to an Initiative Petition.

According to the Office of the Ohio Attorney General, via the office’s website, under current Ohio law, there are three types of a Initiative Petition: Initiated Constitutional Amendment to add to or modify a part of Ohio Constitution, Initiated Statute to add a statute to the Ohio Revised Code, and Referendum to repeal an existing (or section of) law. These processes are further outlined through multiple laws within Ohio Revised Code 3501-3519.

All Ohio government offices involved in the Initiative Petition process recommend that to begin the Initiative Petition process, an Ohio citizen first consult legal counsel. The citizen then must elect an Initiative Committee of three to five individuals to represent the petition in all matters relating to it. The committee will then write the proposed law and proposal summary.

Ohio Revised Code 3519.01(A) reads, “Only one proposal of law or constitutional amendment to be proposed by initiative petition shall be contained in an initiative petition to enable the voters to vote on that proposal separately.”

This section of Revised Code means any proposed law must introduce or modify only one existing section of the Ohio Constitution or Ohio Revised Code. The proposal summary must be a “fair and truthful statement” that clearly outlines the intent and purpose of the proposed law.

Once the Initiative Committee members have drafted the proposed law and summary, they must gather 1,000 signatures of qualified electors. Qualified electors are defined as any individual who is legally qualified to vote in the state of Ohio and is registered to do so.

Upon the signing of 1,000 qualified electors, the committee must send the signatures along with the proposed law and summary to the Office of the Ohio Attorney General.

Once the Attorney General has certified the proposal summary is a “fair and truthful statement” and the law only introduces or modifies only a signal section of the Ohio Constitution or Ohio Revised Code, the office will transfer the initiative to the Ohio Ballot Board. The ballot board must then certify the initiative based on the same criteria. The board has 10 days to do so.

The Ohio Attorney General, currently Dave Yost, is then responsible for transferring the initiative to the Office of the Ohio Secretary of State to be reviewed and, potentially, placed on a statewide ballot. Upon the Secretary of State receiving a copy of the initiative, the Initiative Committee can begin to collect the required number of signatures to have their initiative placed on the ballot.

The total number of signatures the committee must gather varies based on the type of Initiative Petition they are attempting to file. For initiatives directed towards constitutional amendments, 10% of the total numbers of votes cast in the last gubernatorial election are required in signatures. A referendum necessitates 6%, and a revised code statute mandates 3%.

“Signatures must be obtained from at least 44 of Ohio’s 88 counties. From each of the 44 counties, signatures must equal at least 1.5% of votes cast for governor in that county in [the] previous election,” states the website of the Ohio Attorney General.

These guidelines apply to all three types of Initiative Petitions.

The Initiative Committee is required to submit all signatures in a single document, along with a $25 filing fee, to the Ohio Secretary of State no later than 125 days prior to the election to be put to the ballot. Once the Secretary of State has certified the signatures of the initiative, it will be passed back to the Ohio Ballot Board to construct the ballot language.

Shown is a map of U.S. states color coded to show the states allowing Initiative Petitions. Citizens in 15 states have the right to create Initiative Petitions related to a constitutional amendment or legal statute, marked in green. Citizens in 23 states do not have the right to any type of Initiative Petitions, marked in gray. Photo created by Logan Cook, staff writer.

After the final certification by the Ohio Secretary of State and Ballot Board, the Initiative Committee may then write an argument of why the proposed law should be passed. This must be no more than 300 words. The Ohio General Assembly must designate individuals to write the argument against the proposed initiative. If either party fails to do so, the responsibility falls upon the Ohio Ballot Board.

“The proposed constitutional amendment together with the arguments and/or explanations must be published once a week for three consecutive weeks preceding the election, in at least one newspaper of general circulation in each county of the state, where a newspaper is published,” states the website of the Ohio Secretary of State.

Newspapers published across multiple counties are permitted to fulfill the requirement for every county it is published in.

Upon completion of all of the above listed criteria, the Ohio population votes on the initiative. If a majority of Ohio voters vote “Yes” on the initiative, marked on the ballot as “Issues,” the initiative will become law effective 30 days after the election.

Ohio is one of 18 states to have a right to a Citizens’ petition for constitutional amendments  written into its constitution. In 31 other states, the only way for a constitutional amendment to be put to the voters is if the state legislature approves an amendment with a majority vote. However, 21 total states allow statutes to state law be proposed via citizen’s petition. Delaware is the only state to not require constitutional amendments be put to a statewide ballot.

“I don’t think it’s very well publicized [in Ohio],” said Bio-Med Science Academy’s 11th grade College, Career, and Civics and Integrated History teacher, Morgan Brunner. “I am very active in politics and political information and have not heard of it.”

The most recent certified Initiative Petition is to add Section 22 to Article I of the Ohio Constitution. Section 22 would be known as the Medical Right to Refuse. The initiative would write into the Ohio Constitution a citizen’s right to refuse any medical procedure and that no law in Ohio can require a citizen to undergo any medical procedure. The initiative was submitted on June 16, but failed to meet the July 26 deadline to submit the required amount of signatures to be placed on the Nov. 2022 ballot.


The Hive reached out to the University Of Akron Constitutional Law center, the 1851 Center for Constitutional Law, the Ohio Attorney General office, and the Ohio Secretary of State office but did not receive a response.

Politics

Congress Summer Laws In Review

by Jesse Mitchell, staff writer

SEPTEMBER 2022 — Extensive pieces of legislation were passed this summer by the 117th Congress, as the most recent wave of legislation makes its way to President Joe Biden’s desk. Everything from climate change, tax reform, healthcare cost reductions, gun safety, background checks, and semiconductor manufacturing have received significant advances thanks to three bills now made into law. The total projected combined spendings of these bills is more than $700 billion over the next seven years, with a $400 billion reduction to the government’s budget.

“Congress is showing that we can, in fact, work together across the aisle to pass meaningful legislation that will save lives,”said Cleveland Area Representative Shontel Brown in a press release. She spoke not only to the heart of the Safer Communities Act, but also to all of the work done by Congress this summer.

Photo of the U.S. Capitol Building, where members of Congress meet to discuss legislation. Photo by Logan Cook, staff writer

The Inflation Reduction Act

        Climate Change Spending

The last bill passed this summer was The Inflation Reduction Act, which narrowly passed the Senate by a 51-50 vote, and made it to the president’s desk Aug. 16. The bill included historical provisions for the healthcare and climate industries in an attempt to create long and short-term investments in the country’s economic system to stabilize the rising costs of inflation.

Senate Democrats put out a statement that hailed this new legislation as, “the single biggest climate investment in U.S. history, by far” as the bill saw a roughly $386 billion investment into energy and climate policy.

This included everything from new investments into U.S. clean energy generation, provisions to clean up pollution in disadvantaged communities, and tax cuts for electric vehicles and energy-efficient technology and appliances.

The bill established a goal to reduce carbon emissions by 40% by 2030. This is in line with Paris Climate Accords, which has the ultimate goal of net zero emission by 2050.

        Medicare Expansion

Medicare also saw some significant changes from the bill that would allow the federal government to expand upon the program. Changes include reducing the budget deficit by $300 billion while also putting money back into the hands of the American people. This would be done through free vaccinations for seniors, a reduction down to $35 a month insulin costs, and new out-of-pocket drug expense caps at $2000 by the year 2025.

Along with the changes to Medicare was an expansion of its ability to negotiate prescription drug prices. This would allow for high-cost drugs to be sold to medicare recipients for a cheaper price. The White House believes this change could affect over 5 million people and would allow the government more control in terms of long-term Medicare spending.

        Tax Expansions 

In addition to The Inflation Reduction Act, Congress also introduced an amendment to tax reform that targets the wealthiest Americans and corporations making more than $1 billion annually and who don’t pay at least a 15% tax rate.

There’s also a new 1% fee on stock buybacks that would apply to any publicly-traded corporations. These changes make this bill a long-term revenue generator, with Congress already set to increase funding to the IRS to track down the tax loopholes.

Many democrats have seen this bill as a win in terms of the sweeping provisions for climate change alone.

The House Select Committee on the Climate Crisis, Kathy Castor (D-FL) took to Twitter on the signing of the bill, writing, “It’s a Big Climate Deal!”

Many congresspeople are proud of the steps this bill has taken towards funding these often overlooked areas of policy.

However, some in Congress disagree with the bill.

“As currently written, this is an extremely modest piece of legislation that does virtually nothing to address the enormous crises that working families all across this country are facing today,” said Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders from the floor of the Senate Chambers.

The bill falls short for many, as all the provisions in it don’t address short term issues and don’t directly affect current inflation problems in the country.

CHIPS and Science Act

Another bill that was more universally supported by both sides of the aisle was the popularly named CHIPS and Science Act. This bill was signed into law in early August.

The bill approved some $52.7 billion in incentives and was created to combat a massive semiconductor shortage the United States has seen due to supply chain issues with China from the COVID-19 pandemic.

The money would go towards creating incentives for companies to build new chip manufacturing locations across the United States. It would also go towards research and development in the technology sector, and workforce training to get Americans into the newly created positions. This is projected to open up 90,000 new jobs in this sector by 2025.

The bill would provide $39 billion, specifically for the manufacturing industry to build new production and research locations across the U.S.

The White House announced, following the bill’s passing, that it would create an interagency group to work with state and local governments and private sector companies. The group would implement projects supported by the bill, with the goal of developing 20 new regional technology hubs across the country in areas that aren’t leading technology centers.

The bill also looked at expanding workforce education concerning technology and science, aiming to create more qualified, prepared workers. This included an $81 billion investment in all aspects of the education system, including funding and research into pre-K through 12 systems to see how education can be improved. It also includes added provisions for the National Science Foundation to support research into STEM teaching in rural schools to improve student participation and advancement in STEM.

Photo of the U.S. Supreme Court Building in Washington D.C. The Supreme Court is part of the Department of Justice, which received funding under the Safer Communities Act for intervention and outreach programs. Photo by Logan Cook, staff writer

The Safer Communities Act

Earlier this summer, Congress created the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act, a bill that Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi described as, “advanced legislation for the first time in three decades.”

Over $13 billion in federal funding was designated in the bill to expand upon safety and health initiatives in every state, bolster in-school mental health resources, provide additional mental health training to physicians and first responders, and ensure improved safety development across all of America’s communities. This will make it harder for guns to fall into the wrong hands.

The bill targets a highly criticized “boyfriend” loophole in domestic assault cases. The bill made it so now convicted domestic abusers in dating relationships are added to the criminal background check system, along with enhanced background checks to look into the juvenile and mental health records for anyone under the age of 21.

This ensures more time and consideration is put into the process of purchasing a firearm.

Along with this, came the creation of new federal offenses to tackle straw purchasing (purchasing weapons for people prohibited from doing so) and gun trafficking. This addressed an often overlooked part of gun reform and is a change many in Congress were looking for, as the effects of gun violence grew over 2022.

Ohio Republican Senator Rob Portman commented on the bill in a press release, saying, “The Safer Communities Act takes common-sense steps to improve access to mental health, protect America’s children, improve school safety, and reduce the threat of gun violence across our country while protecting the rights of law-abiding gun owners.”

This is a sentiment shared by many Republicans and Democrats alike in the capitol building.

President Joe Biden also commented on the bill in a speech at the White House, saying, “This bill is far from perfect. It’s a compromise. But it is — it’s often how progress is made: by compromises.”

He and many in the Democratic party are happy about being able to accomplish something for the American people, and the response from the public has been supportive and approving.

Biden gave his best regards to Congress’s busy summer and all of the funding and policy development that took place in the past three months.

“Making progress in a country as big and complicated as ours is not easy. It never has been. But with unwavering conviction, commitment, and patience, progress does come. These past few weeks have proven that,” he said.

General Interest Politics

The End of a Nearly 50-Year-Old Era: The Summer Without Roe v. Wade

By Ken Burchett, associate editor, and Alyssa Cocchiola, editor-in-chief

AUGUST 2022 — Roe v. Wade, the 1973 Supreme Court case that considered abortion a right to privacy by the 14th Amendment, was overturned by the U.S. Supreme Court by a 6-3 vote June 24. Following the decision, protests were held, legislation was enacted, and the legality of abortion was left in the hands of the individual U.S. states.

The Ohio Heartbeat Bill

Shortly after Roe’s overturn, Ohio SB 23, otherwise known as the heartbeat bill, was enacted. The bill declares that all abortion becomes illegal once a fetal heartbeat could be detected, which is usually around six weeks.

Pictured above is a map outlining the legality of abortion in the U.S. post-Roe. Image obtained from https://reproductiverights.org/maps/abortion-laws-by-state/.

Elizabeth Whitmarsh, the director of communications at Ohio Right to Life, a pro-life organization, explained how the heartbeat bill came into effect.

“So the heartbeat bill, it was passed in 2019. As soon as Governor Mike DeWine came into office, that was his campaign promise: he would sign the heartbeat bill as soon as it’s on his desk,” explained Whitmarsh. “That was one of the first things that he did as governor, and immediately, as soon as it got signed, a federal judge in Cincinnati…put an injunction on it, so it wasn’t able to go into effect.”

The injunction was enacted by Judge Michael Barrett by request of Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost.

The Ohio law does not allow exceptions for rape or incest, only in cases of medical emergency.

Medical emergency is defined as “serious risk of the substantial and irreversible impairment of a major bodily function of the pregnant woman,” according to Ohio Revised Code 2919.16(F) & (K).

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), the Planned Parenthood Federation of America, and the WilmerHale law firm, submitted a motion for an emergency stay of the ban, though the Ohio Supreme Court denied it. Denial of emergency stay means that abortion clinics cannot conduct abortions past six weeks while the case is ongoing.

“With the six-week ban in effect, most Ohioans are now unable to access abortion unless they can afford to travel hundreds of miles out of state, take time off work and arrange child care and transportation. At Planned Parenthood, we have the resources to support patients in getting the care they need and deserve, yet it comes at a cost,” CEO of Planned Parenthood of Greater Ohio Iris Harvey said in a statement following the overturning of Roe.

On the Planned Parenthood of Greater Ohio website, the group’s stance on the overturning was outlined.

“We will do everything in our power to ensure every person’s right to bodily autonomy is upheld. Our health centers have and will remain trusted health care partners for patients across Ohio. Planned Parenthood stands for care — without exception or condition,” it read.

Other organizations, like Ohio Right to Life, looked at the heartbeat bill in a positive light. The organization’s mission is to end all abortion in the state of Ohio. This mission sparks from the belief that a human life starts at conception and should be protected in the womb under any circumstances.  

“It is a huge sign of progress in the state of Ohio, because with the heartbeat, a heartbeat can be detected as early as six weeks, which is a really short window of time for abortionists to perform an abortion. Most women find out they are pregnant anywhere between…three weeks or all the way up to six to seven week. It can be a bit later if you’re not paying attention to your cycle,” Whitmarsh explained.

Due to the shortened window that women are able to get an abortion, Whitmarsh noted that the bill would “move Ohio in the right direction.”

She continued, “When Roe got passed, the approval of abortion significantly went up. Laws do have an effect on our society. They do have an effect on our culture as a whole, so we’re hoping that with this, it’ll help to change the society so that we embrace more of a culture of life — so that we come together. It will also help us as a community to think twice when we see women in need.”

Ginger Bakos, former co-chair of Northeast Ohio Women’s March and mother of Bio-Med Science Academy Senior Emmett Bakos, voiced her opinion of the bill.

“What they have essentially done is outlawed abortion without saying that. Because most people don’t even know they’re pregnant at six weeks,” she said. “The idea that you can just shove all these babies into the foster care system is so infuriating. There aren’t enough families to adopt all the babies and kids we have now. The way that foster kids are treated, and shuffled from place to place. It’s already a system that’s busting at the seams. The idea that this is a good idea is so offensive. The idea that in the middle of an infant formula shortage, that we’re going to force people to have babies, is just so offensive.”

Activism From Bio-Med Science Academy Parents and Students

A local protest was organized by Bakos and Kenyona “Sunny” Mathews, the other former co-chair of Northeast Ohio Women’s March, June 28.

Bakos emphasized the importance of hiring peace marshals at the protest. “That’s a key piece of organizing, because the peace marshals work for the event, not the city or police, so they keep the people happy.” Photo provided by Jenna Bates.

“We had some folks who held political office, people from their offices, and we had people there just to tell their stories. I think there is, particularly from the pro-life side, a lot of villainizing abortion, and what it’s for, and how people ‘use abortion.’ Everybody who spoke had a story,” Bakos said. “So often, abortion and abortion-care in this country is to save lives, and we just forget that.”

The protest was held in Downtown Cuyahoga Falls and hosted a variety of speakers.

Bakos cited her own experience with abortion, stating, “When [my son], Tristan, was three years old, I started having a miscarriage in the middle of his birthday party. If I had not had abortion services, I would have died. At this point, [pro-lifers] would’ve tried to justify that.”

Bakos was not the only person to protest as a result of Roe’s overturning. Bio-Med Senior Hailey Mills was on vacation when she learned about the overturn.

Bio-Med Senior Hailey Mills stands outside of the Supreme Court building in Washington D.C. June 24, the day that Roe v. Wade was overturned. There, she holds a sign with a link to LiberateAbortion.org. Photo provided by Hailey Mills.

“I was in Washington D.C. at the spy museum, and I was looking at stuff. My dad sends me a text and says, ‘Just opened the news app and saw this.’ It was a screenshot of Roe v. Wade getting overturned. At first, I thought he was just reading fake news… so I looked online, and I saw that it was real, and tears started forming in my eyes. I don’t even know how to explain it, but I was so upset and distraught about what was going on,” she said.

Shortly after learning about the overturn of Roe, Mills and her mother attended a protest in front of the Supreme Court building.

“[We] protested for about 30-ish minutes, because we had reservations to do other things,” Mills recalled. “It was just nice to be there at the Supreme Court. Even though they probably weren’t there,… it just still felt important, because they would obviously be watching and seeing how many people were actually there, outside of the place they work.”

That day, Mills later posted an image of her protesting on Instagram, with a caption that read, “I am in disappointment, finding out I won’t have a choice for my body. We are going backwards in history. If given the choice, I would rather not had protests…but because a terrible choice made by congress, I am as happy as I can be to be able to speak up in front of the Supreme Court. I am furious and in dismay of what this country is leading to.”

“One of the biggest things that came about from [the] Women’s March was when you organize, you have to have a purpose. You have to be doing something, there has to be a call to action,” Bakos said. “We organized voter registration, and then we took donations for Planned Parenthood and [the Escort Service Program].” Photo provided by Ginger Bakos.

Offering More Support for Pregnant People

Mills, Bakos, and thousands of Americans attended and/or organized protests following the overturn of Roe, citing a pro-choice stance.

Whitmarsh, on the other hand, disagreed with the protests’ message. She believed that instead of legalizing abortion, offering more support for pregnant people will eliminate the “need” for one.

“We know that ending the horror of abortion, while I do believe that it is terribile and needs to be ended, that doesn’t take away the fact that there’s women and children that are in need, and they need our help and that they find themselves in these situations where they consider abortion, because they feel as though they have no other option. The other half of our mission is to really care for those women, to show them that there is support, and to create a culture and a community where they feel supported or they feel like they don’t have to run to get an abortion. They can choose life, and they can continue on to have a future.”

She also noted that more expectations should not only be placed on women to keep the child, but on men as well.

“A huge reason why so many women are feeling like they have to get an abortion is because a man is not involved. That’s scary, as young women, that’s really scary if I was pregnant and found out that I was going to be a single mother,” Whitmarsh said. “We as a culture and a society, we need to demand that. We need to demand that men can no longer feel like they can just walk away. That’s not okay. I think that really having a holistic conversation about the entire issue and what got us there.”

Pictured above is the Ohio Right to Life booth at the Portage County Randolph Fair. Photo by Alyssa Cocchiola, editor-in-chief.

Part of the “holistic conversation” Whitmarsh mentioned is to address the risks of pregnancy more seriously and offer a different approach to sex education.

“I think that we have, as a society, bought into the idea that you can divorce sex from having children, and while it’s very true that there are methods that you can put in place to prevent pregnancy from happening, there’s always a chance that it will happen. You can never completely separate sex and baby making. You just scientifically can’t,” Whitmarsh explained.

She continued, “As a society and culture, we need to come back to that and realize that while yes, there’s amazing modern and scientific inventions like birth control, like condoms or just tracking your cycle as women. Talking about sex education, most women don’t even know how to track their cycle. Most women don’t even know when they ovulate or how they can actually family plan. Those things are so important to teach to young women, and it puts so much more control over our own bodies back into our hands, so just giving real tools to women and men, I think that that will be huge.”

Bakos responded to this, saying, “That’s a big part of the pro-choice movement, that you need to have all of those things, but the irony is that many Right-to-Lifers are against all of those things. They say they want sex ed, but they want abstinence-only sex ed, which is nonsense. Anyone who’s ever been a teenager knows that that’s nonsense.”

She recalled her own pregnancy experience, and the difficulty she faced regarding insurance and how expensive prenatal care was. She also noted that low-income households struggle to afford prenatal healthcare, disproportionately affecting minorities such as people of color.

Due to the cost of prenatal care, Ohio has proposed Senate Bill 262, which would allow people to sue their impregnator if the pregnancy was unintentional. This bill is still in the early stages, and has not had a formal hearing.

U.S. Senator Kevin Cramer and Representative Mike Johnson also introduced the Unborn Child Support Act, which allows child support payments to be claimed on unborn children.

Even with the implementation of these policies, Bakos still believes abortion should remain legal.

“A woman has to have a right to choose, period. There is no [legislation] that anyone can name where we restrict men,” she said.

She compared this to organ donation, describing how organs cannot be taken from anyone, including corpses, without their consent.

New Exceptions for Medical Emergency

Though abortion is still regulated in many U.S. states, President Biden signed an executive order July 8 that mandated abortion be legal in cases of medical emergencies, as it would be in violation of the Emergency Medical Treatment and Labor Act.

Though it does not impact Ohio’s heartbeat bill, which already had exceptions for medical emergencies, the order will change the legality of abortion in states where it is completely banned. For example, Missouri’s House Bill 2810 still charges a class A felony if the “abortion was performed or induced or was attempted to be performed or induced on a woman who has an ectopic pregnancy.”

President Biden Tweeted the following image July 23 with a caption that read, “Under no circumstances should a woman be denied emergency medical care because she’s pregnant. I’ve taken action to ensure this is never the case in the United States.” Photo obtained from Twitter @POTUS.

Ectopic pregnancies are when an egg implants outside the uterus; these cases are never viable, and almost always put the pregnant person’s life at risk.

Prior to Biden’s executive order, one of Mills’ main concerns was people being denied abortions in cases of medical emergencies.

“I think that it’s already starting to impact [people] even though it just happened…. It’s been less than a week and people have already been affected by it,” Mills stated. “I read somewhere how there was an iffy situation going on at a hospital where it was either the mom’s life or a fetus not ready to be born outside of the womb, and it came down to that situation, and the doctor had to call lawyers to see what he could do so he wouldn’t lose his license of being a doctor.”

She continued, “I couldn’t even imagine laying there thinking, ‘I’m going to die today,’ and the doctors can’t even do anything to help me. Stuff like that — people could be going to jail for having an abortion and it’s just crazy. It’s so crazy. I don’t even know what to say.”

Under Ohio’s heartbeat bill, controversy has sparked over a recent story of a 10-year-old who became pregnant after being raped by a 27-year-old man. After the heartbeat bill was passed, she traveled to Indiana, where Dr. Caitlin Bernard administered the treatment.

Mills commented, “I saw a Tik Tok that was like, ‘not old enough to give consent, but old enough to have a baby,’ and that was so heartbreaking to think of all the little girls that are not even in middle school about to have children because — a child is going to have a child — because of this [decision]. It’s just heartbreaking.”

Bakos agreed, saying, “A 10-year-old, under any circumstance, should not be forced to have a child. If you wouldn’t let a 10-year-old adopt a child, why would you force them to birth a child?”

Indiana Attorney General Todd Rokita claimed that Bernard has previously failed to follow state reporting requirements surrounding abortion procedures. Indiana health officials released documentation indicating this to be false, and Bernard has threatened to sue Rokita for defamation. She has yet to decide if she will proceed with the lawsuit.

Other measures have been taken to ensure access to abortion. The House of Representatives passed a bill that would protect the right to travel between states for abortion care. Dubbed the “Ensuring Women’s Right to Reproductive Freedom Act,” it also ensures that states cannot restrict or punish those who “assist another person traveling across a State line for the purpose of obtaining an abortion service that is lawful in the State in which the service is to be provided.”

It also protects the movement of “interstate commerce… of any drug approved or licensed by the Food and Drug Administration for the termination of a pregnancy.”

Oklahoma Senator James Lankford claimed this was unnecessary, stating, “No state has banned interstate travel for adult women seeking to obtain an abortion.”

Despite this, Yvette Ostolazaa, a Dallas-based corporate litigator and the head of the Sidley Austin LLP, received a letter from Texas elected officials, threatening the office for assisting employees with abortion-related travel costs. The letter also included plans to introduce legislation that will “impose additional civil and criminal sanctions on law firms that pay for abortions or abortion travel.”

Future Legislation and Supreme Court Cases

Many wonder if this decision will affect in-vitro fertilization (IVF). Attorney Eric Johnston, the author of Alabama’s 2019 Human Life Protection Act, stated that abortion would only be prohibited when a fertilized egg attaches to the uterine wall, despite other legislation indicating that life begins at conception.

“In vitro fertilization would not be affected by this law as there are no intentional attempts to remove a fertilized egg from the uterine wall with in vitro fertilization,” Johnston said in an interview with Alabama policy institute.

Many also wonder if this would lead to restrictions on forms of contraception that could work after conception, such as intrauterine devices (IUD), and the morning-after pill.

Copper IUDs work by releasing copper ions to create an inhospitable environment for sperm. Hormonal IUDs work by using hormones to thicken cervical mucus to prevent sperm from reaching the egg. Both IUDs and Plan B pills thin the uterine lining to prevent the egg from implanting, should fertilization occur. Photo, “Mirena IUD,” by Sarah Mirk is licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0.

In Ohio, since the abortion ban does not take effect until six weeks of pregnancy, these options remain available. Should Ohio issue a total abortion ban, these methods may become illegal.

In the future, SCOTUS may review other cases with rulings with similar precedent. Shortly after the initial overturning of Roe, Justice Clarence Thomas stated in a concurring opinion that the court “should reconsider all of this Court’s substantive due process precedents, including Griswold, Lawrence, and Obergefell.”

These cases ruled for the right for married couples to buy and use contraceptives without government restriction, that sanctions of criminal punishment for those who commit sodomy are unconstitutional, and the fundamental right to marry is guaranteed to same-sex couples by the Due Process Clause and the Equal Protection Clause.

Many individuals have expressed concern that, like Roe, court cases like Griswold may be overruled.  

Whitmarch concluded, “Since Roe v. Wade was overturned, it never was settled. There was always a huge pro-life movement that fought against it, whereas, if you compare that to, I believe it’s Griswold that was the decision for birth control, there was never a continued fight after that….I don’t think that the pro-life movement is going to go anywhere near the fight against birth control. I don’t think that’s our goal, and that is our focus,”

She continued, “I think that the focus is ending abortion and building a culture of life. I don’t think that it’s going to be the next step. I think there might be some churches or outliers who feel strongly about it that might fight against [contraceptives] from a cultural perspective, but from a legal perspective, I think that it’s pretty settled, and I don’t think that anybody is going to be trying to overturn Griswold by any means.”

Associate Justice Samuel Alito assured that this logic would not extend to these cases, writing, “Nothing in this opinion should be understood to cast doubt on precedents that do not concern abortion.”

However, SCOTUS’s liberal justices, Justices Stephen Breyer, Elena Kagan and Sonia Sotomayor, are not convinced, saying the decision on Roe leaves other decades-old precedents vulnerable.

Bakos responded to Thomas’s opinion.

“The irony is that you don’t get to choose. If Clarence Thomas wants to go after these other decisions, then he’s also going to be going after Loving v. Virginia, which gives him a right to be married to his wife. He doesn’t get to choose,” she said. “That’s the problem with precedent, you don’t get to choose how it gets applied. What will happen now, is it will come to cases being brought up to SCOTUS. What we’re seeing right now, in our government, is everything is being run through the courts. Our legislative system is pretty crippled.”

Bakos advised citizens to contact their local legislators, pushing them to codify Roe v. Wade into law and end the filibuster, and to donate to organizations that assist women in finding abortion care.

She concluded, “I think the idea that anyone who isn’t of voting age doesn’t have power is false. There has been a massive shift in power and structure in this country, and there are a lot of people who are saying, ‘We’re just not gonna take it anymore.’ [Gen Z] has the power to push back. Politicians are public servants. They work for their constituents, and anyone who doesn’t isn’t doing their job.”


The Hive reached out to the Supreme Court Public Information Office, several representatives from Planned Parenthood via email, phone, and in-person requests, and Bio-Med Students and parents whose opinions varied on the subject. The Hive’s queries were not answered by these parties.

General Interest Politics

10 Years After Sandy Hook, History Repeats, and Little Is Being Done to Change That

by The Hive editorial board

JUNE 2022 — The second deadliest U.S. school shooting occurred at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, where 19 students and two teachers were fatally shot and killed May 23. The severity of the attack is only preceded by the events that took place at Sandy Hook Elementary school Dec. 14, 2012, where 20 students and seven adults were killed. Though 10 years have passed since Sandy Hook, students are still being subjected to the horrors of gun violence; history is repeating itself, and little is being done to fix it.

At Robb Elementary, 18-year-old Salvador Ramos barricaded himself in a classroom around 11:30 a.m and shot those inside. The tactical team forced the door open, shooting and killing Ramos more than an hour after entering the school.

Prior to the shooting, Ramos shot his grandmother, who is in the hospital. Ramos crashed his truck in a ditch near the school before entering, wearing a plate carrier with no ballistic armor and exchanging fire with school officers.

Pictured above are people visiting Robb Elementary School to leave flowers by the school sign May 25 in light of the shooting. Photo obtained from Jack Gruber, USA Today.
It has been almost 10 years since the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary school, and after this event, politicians and lawmakers across the country have promised, “never again.” Despite this, 229 mass shootings have taken place on U.S. school grounds in 2022 alone, according to the gun violence archive. 

That number is more than one school shooting per day this year.

Regardless of what people blame, the promise of “never again” has proven to be false time and time again, and countless lives have suffered as a result.

Following the events, Texas Governor Greg Abbott noted, “What happened in Uvalde is a horrific tragedy that cannot be tolerated in the state of Texas.”

However, in the past year, Abbott has signed numerous legislation that lifted restrictions on gun laws. Some of these laws include HB 1927, which allows Texans to carry guns without a license, background check, or training and HB 2622 which prohibits local government agencies from enforcing federal gun laws.

In total, Abbott signed and enacted 22 laws to make it easier to obtain, buy, and carry guns, according to Houston Public Media.

On top of this, Abbott tweeted the following Oct. 28, 2015: “I’m EMBARRASSED: Texas #2 in the nation for new gun purchases, behind CALIFORNIA. Let’s pick up the pace Texans.”

For someone who claims that school shootings “cannot be tolerated in the state of Texas,” Abbott has single handedly enacted legislation that has enabled individuals to obtain weapons of destruction in a more efficient manner.

According to the Harvard Injury Control Research Center, it was found that states with higher levels of household gun ownership had higher rates of firearm homicide and overall homicide for all genders and age groups.

“Regardless of what people blame, the promise of ‘never again’ has proven to be false time and time again, and countless lives have suffered as a result”

The Hive Editorial Board

In instances like Uvalde, the shooter was able to obtain the gun legally with little restriction as a result of these actions. Ramos legally purchased two assault rifles and 375 rounds of ammunition just after his 18th birthday. One of the rifles was found in the back of his truck, the other located in the school.

Even so, the issue lies deeper than just gun control; having strict gun control will not magically eradicate the issue of gun-related violence. In other cases, while less common, the guns were purchased illegally or underground.

Most commonly, the Sandy Hook promise outlined that 68% of guns in gun-related incidents at schools were taken from a family member who purchased the guns legally. Though gun control will not completely erase the issue, requiring permits, training, background checks, and licenses for obtaining firearms could prevent certain acts of gun-related violence.

Controlling fire-arm access was not the only repeated message from history.

The infamous 1999 Columbine High School shooting saw police officers arrive on the scene, only to wait hours to enter and secure the building. In Uvalde, they took roughly 90 minutes to breach the classroom the shooter stayed in.

From worries of officer safety to police chiefs making “wrong decisions” during desperate situations, police training must be questioned. With the infuriating frequency of these events, they need to be prepared. If the police refuse to be disarmed of their guns for public safety, they should at least use their guns when the public needs them.

Another aspect that is critical to consider is offering better mental health support. A common argument against gun control is that “if someone wants to obtain a gun, they will, whether it is legal or not.” Instead of just preventing individuals from obtaining the gun, a focus should also be placed on preventing people from committing these violent acts altogether.

Watching out for threats of violence and flagging them before they escalate is another key factor in preventing shootings, which is often not considered until it is too late.

Prior to the shooting, Ramos used Yubo, a social media site, as a platform to make threats about rape and shooting the school. If these threats were taken seriously and brought to the attention of officials, these events could have been prevented; lives could have been saved.

The issue, though, is that most people preach looking for “warning signs,” but when actions are flagged, few repercussions occur. Noticing these actions and dealing with the threats is crucial to preventing violent actions in schools.

In fact, 93% of school shootings were planned in advance in almost every documented case. In those cases, the Sandy Hook promise noted that one or multiple of these warning signs were shown.

Many of these signs include things like bullying, withdrawing from friends, making direct threats, and recruiting accomplices or audiences for the attack. In these cases, these signs are able to be caught early, and actions can be taken to prevent these harmful acts.

“Schools are supposed to provide a comfortable learning environment for children to learn and grow as individuals. In spite of this, the world of today has seen school shootings rip away that right from students; these places can no longer feel safe.”

The Hive Editorial Board

As outlined by the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, “school shootings typically involve a mix of suicidal thoughts, despair, and anger — plus access to guns.”

Though many pin the blame only on weapons, recognizing the signs and knowing how to deal with them is important. Taking threats seriously and having repercussions for these threats, along with implementing more mental health initiatives to prevent shootings that result from mental illnesses would provide a step in the right direction.

In the span of 10 years, instead of putting any legislation in place — whether it is gun control, taking threats seriously and recognizing the warning signs, better mental illness check-ins, or other actions to lessen the amount of violence in this country — America has decided to train schools and students to be “prepared” against active shooters instead of attempting to eradicate the issue all together.

After all of the ALICE drills, lockdowns, talk of or implementation of arming teachers, walk-outs in protest of the violence, and all the thoughts and prayers to the victims, how many more conversations have to occur before any action is taken?

We said “never again” after Sandy Hook. Since then, 947 school shootings have occurred, and an estimated 12 children die from gun violence in America each day. At what point, if ever, will this statement hold true? How many more lives need to be lost — in schools, in supermarkets, in places of worship — until anything changes?

These places where gun violence occur are supposed to be safe. Schools are supposed to provide a comfortable learning environment for children to learn and grow as individuals. In spite of this, the world of today has seen school shootings rip away that right from students; these places can no longer feel safe.

There’s a terrifying fact that looms over the heads of every student when an ALICE drill is practiced: This is the sad reality of the world we live in, where it is a necessity that students know how to increase their chances of survival in the event of a shooting. As the instances of school shootings increase, the terrifying thought of our community falling victim to the horrors of gun violence becomes increasingly more probable.

Though the thought of the community being exposed to gun violence is frightening to even imagine, it is likely that, even then, America will continue to argue and fail to act; that fact is even scarier.

General Interest Opinion Politics

Immigration Detention Profits Off of Injustice. It’s Time to Change That.

by Randall Hatfield, staff writer

MAY 2022 — For more than 200 years, America has been seen as a cultural “melting pot,” a place where people from all backgrounds could come together and find a new, better life. Yet, the legislation of the immigration system creates a hate-filled, dangerous road for prospective immigrants to the U.S.

Language services are meant to be present during deportation hearings, but some of these services may be inadequate—or even absent—in violation of the law. As a result, many immigrants wait day after day for their chance to plead their case in an unfair trial.

“How can we call ourselves the land of the free if we’re so willing to abide by a system that makes money off of imprisoning guiltless people for profit?”

Randall Hatfield, staff writer

First, it’s important to clarify the difference between immigrants, asylum-seekers, and refugees. Amnesty International defines an immigrant as a person who intends to move to a different country for permanent residency, possibly for work, or civil unrest in their home country. Asylum-seekers are people who have fled their home countries in order to escape persecution or injustice. Asylum-seekers, once granted asylum, become refugees and are granted legal protection against being sent back to their home countries.

Because immigrating for asylum is typically done out of necessity, the law states that all asylum seekers should have the opportunity to formally apply for asylum in the United States, regardless of whether they entered the country legally. As long as asylum-seekers are able to prove before the law that they were at serious risk of being unjustly persecuted in their home countries, they can be considered for refugee status.

Despite this, undocumented asylum-seekers’ rights have been infringed upon countless times, resulting in the unlawful detention of many—the very thing that they came here to escape.

The 1903 Supreme Court case Yamataya v. Fisher established that all immigrants, entering unlawfully or not, have the right to ask for legal due process in a court of law. While this was a step forward, accessing information about the trial can be incredibly difficult. Even harder, detainees are not guaranteed the right to legal counsel, so those who cannot afford a lawyer may have inadequate legal help, or even to represent themselves in court without easy access to learn how to do so.

Data from an American Immigration Council study shows that only around 37 percent of all U.S. Immigrants have access to legal counsel to represent them in court. Graphic obtained from the American Immigration Council.

Immigration hearings can take months to happen, and in the meantime, detainees are sent to detention centers to wait. It would be more appropriate to call these centers prisons, as many of them are offloaded by ICE to private prison companies for profit.

Demographics in detention centers vary widely. Of those imprisoned, many have no criminal record, and many of those that do only have minor offenses, like traffic violations, on record. Ages vary, typically, those in ICE detention are between 26 and 35 years old, but people as old as 79 have been detained. Children are also detained frequently. In 2019, 69,950 children were imprisoned, according to NCSL.

Conditions for detainees are often poor. Cells are frigid, and many state that they were forbidden from showering, brushing their teeth, or practicing personal hygiene while stationed there.

Reports also indicate that many are deprived of proper nourishment, and the risk of disease transmission is greatly increased due to the close quarters and weakness. Since the pandemic, according to statistics on the ICE website, the spread of COVID-19 has affected 43,153 detainees, and 11 have died.

How can we call ourselves the land of the free if we’re so willing to abide by a system that makes money off of imprisoning guiltless people for profit?

A graph from Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse outlining the percentage of detainees without a criminal record. This data was taken April 24 and uses a sample size of 19,502 people. Graphic obtained from Transactional Records Access Clearance.

The U.S. Citizenship Act of 2021 was put before the 117th Congress on February 18, 2021, and intended to reform the U.S. immigration system. The bill, if passed by the House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate, would work to open up immigration opportunities to all, making it easier to apply for permanent residency, and readdressing qualifications for employees of Customs and Border Patrol centers.

The bill will not magically repair every issue and injustice within the immigration system, but it will be a much-needed start to repairing this critical issue affecting so many people.

For more information about immigration in the U.S. and all around the world, I recommend the National Immigrant Justice Center, and Amnesty International. Movements like Amnesty’s National Week for Student Action are ways to get involved, and influence legislation at the national level.

At the end of the day, these are people — sons, daughters, husbands, and wives — are striving for the human right of a free life. We need to do better for the migrants and asylum-seekers that our country attracts. Only once all have equal rights and opportunity, can we have liberty and justice for all.

Opinion Politics

Climate Change May Be Irreversible and Bio-Med Students Aren’t Fine With It

by Cadence Gutman, staff writer

MAY 2022 — Climate and environmental scientists are saying, “It’s now or never,” in response to the most recent climate change report, published April 4. The report, released by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), indicated that a rapid reduction of greenhouse gas emissions is necessary by 2025 to avoid catastrophic climate effects by the year 2100.

After the release of the most recent 3,000 page climate change report, scientists of the group The Scientist Rebellion started a worldwide protest in more than 25 major countries.

During this protest, Dr. Peter Kalmus and three other members of the Scientist Rebellion group chained themselves to the outside of the JPMorgan Chase building. Since 2016, JPMorgan Chase & Co, a multinational, financial services and investment banking company, directly poured slightly more than a quarter of a trillion dollars into fossil fuels.

In an interview with Smithsonian Magazine, Klamus stated, “We are currently heading directly towards civilizational collapse.” He continued, “We need to switch into climate emergency mode as a society.”

Scientist Rebellion posted photos of various protests. “Frankfurt, 22.04.2022, 8 am: At a blockade at untermainbrücke in Frankfurt this morning, Scientist Rebellion have today expressed their solidarity with Letzte Generation. Several people glued themselves to the road,” they captioned one. Photo obtained from the Scientist Rebellion Instagram page.

Kelsea Cooper, a senior at Bio-Med, said that while she thinks the protests are justified, she believes there may be other ways to get the point across. “I don’t know if that method is going to make those people understand, because when it comes down to it, they don’t have an open mind about it. They’re set in their ways,” she said.

Freshman Zachary Phillips, doesn’t feel the issue is as serious as Cooper does. “Personally, it [climate change] doesn’t affect me directly or the people around me. I think people make it out to be a bigger deal than it is. Like it still matters, but it’s not like ‘world ending’,” he explained.

Sophie Wiley, a freshman who had been involved in environmental activism, responded to the reports from the recent protest: “I can get wanting to keep business clean and tidy like the bank, but if they are peacefully protesting, it is within their rights,” she said. “People with power can make laws and be a voice to help ignorant people understand what they can do, and people with money have supplies to create sustainable living innovations.”

“I think that change is possible, but sadly unlikely. Our politicians don’t care to use their power to actually make a change,” Wiley continued. “Not just politicians, but too many people want to put the responsibility onto someone else.”

According to the United States Environmental Protection Agency, human activities are almost completely responsible for the overall increase in greenhouse gas emissions in the atmosphere within the last 150 years. The largest source of these gasses is the United States of America, which gets 81% of its total energy from oil, coal, and natural gas, all of which are fossil fuels. Human-induced climate change has been thought to have been an issue since 1830, during the industrial revolution. It’s only recently been a focus as a national issue within the last 30 years.

The freshman BioTechnology teacher, Heidi Hisrich, expressed her opinion on the social impact of climate change. “I think it is absolutely a social justice issue. The people who will suffer most are the poorest and most disadvantaged people on the planet and the ones from places that have contributed the least to the problem.” She continued, “People like us who are relatively wealthy and contribute the most and most likely to be able to survive the changing climate with less impacts and that is really unfair. I think we need to recognize the impact that we are having and the people it is affecting.”

Cooper discussed generational responsibility concerning climate change. “Each generation is always like, ‘Oh, the next generation will fix it.’ They keep passing it off to one another,” she said. “I think our generation, because of how much access to knowledge we have, is capable of creating change. But the harder part is getting the other generations to try.”

“What are the effects of climate change going to look like in my lifetime? Is it going to be good enough for me to have kids or want to bring kids into this world? Like, what is that situation? Why should I be robbed of those rights?”

Nora Haddon, a Bio-Med Senior

Senior Nora Haddon, who is planning to study environmental studies in college, expressed her opinion on whether or not humanity can create enough change to affect the world positively. She explained that while it is sad to believe, she thinks it’s unlikely, saying, “Because of the way people live their life, I’m gonna say no.”

“A lot of people are so set in their ways, they don’t want to change. You know, they’ve always done it a certain way, they don’t see the imminence of the need for change,” Haddon further explained. “I think if people understood why change needs to happen, humanity can do the right thing and make a difference.”

Cooper explained how larger corporations could make a difference. “If they help implement policies for production within the United States, like limiting production of materials that are hurting our planet, then maybe other larger countries will see the U.S. doing it and be like, yeah, we should do that too.”

She continued, “But also, there are already other smaller countries that don’t have as much power but they’re doing great. Some of them have really good environmental policy implementations that are really helping with climate change.”

Costa Rica is an example of the phenomenon described by Cooper. In 2017, Costa Rica was named the second most sustainable country in the world by the World Energy Council. Currently, the country uses 99.2 percent renewable energy, 78 percent from hydroelectric and 18 percent by geothermal.

Another example is Iceland, which currently is powering a significant portion of its country with green energy from hydro and geothermal sources. The only exception is its reliance on fossil fuels for transportation.

Haddon elaborated on her fears for the future, saying, “[Climate change] does definitely scare me. I want to make a difference because it’s so important. That fact that we’re already to a [place] where it’s almost irreversible, that’s terrifying. What are the effects of climate change going to look like in my lifetime? Is it going to be good enough for me to have kids or want to bring kids into this world? Like, what is that situation? Why should I be robbed of those rights?”

Haddon added that anything someone can do, will make a difference: “Sometimes, people look at recycling and think it won’t make a difference, and I know it can feel that way. But if you look at it that way, nothing will ever get done. If you as an individual think you can’t make a difference, then why would a whole company? So do what you can.”

Ms. Elissa Fusco, the junior Biomedical Engineering teacher at Bio-Med, talked about what she believes Bio-Med as a school can do.

“A little goes a long way, and it breaks my heart watching globs of paint get thrown away because students only need a paintbrush-full. Paper for projects, seeing markers go uncapped that have to be thrown away, and pencils being broken for no reason are all things that we as a community can become more mindful about the waste we produce.”

Cooper expanded on this, saying, “Using less plastic and helping to reduce plastic manufacturing [will help]. Try and help restore wetlands in Ohio, which are extremely important to our environment. It’s the small things that really matter.” She continued, “I think understanding what it is, and not just looking at it from a political point of view, looking at it from a scientific perspective and looking at the facts and what they say, is really important.”

To read more about the report, go to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s website

Bio-Med Journey Politics

Updates on COVID-19 Border Restrictions After National Week of Student Action  

by Camryn Myrla, staff writer

MAY 2022 — A U.S. judge temporarily blocked the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) from lifting restrictions on the country’s land borders April 25.

Section 252 of Title 42 prohibits entry into the U.S. when the Director of the CDC believes “there is a serious danger to the introduction of disease” into the country. The order was issued by the CDC in March 2020 at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.

However, the CDC had reported in early April 2022 that Title 42 was no longer needed to prevent the spread of COVID-19 due to vaccines and other advancements that counter the virus. As a result, the public health agency called for the termination of the order by May 23.

U.S. District Judge Robert Summerhays, the judge who blocked the CDC from lifting border restrictions, was supported by many Republicans who believed that the order was vital for preventing illegal immigration. Officials predict that lifting Title 42 will cause an influx in migrants crossing the border, with the highest estimate being up to 18,000 people per day.

Meanwhile, Title 42 has been opposed by certain groups that advocate for human rights. Many of these groups argue the order unjustly turns away migrants searching for asylum in the United States.

For example, student groups for Amnesty International, a non-governmental organization focused on human rights, work together annually for its National Week of Student Action (NWSA). For 2022, the week was dedicated to defunding U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).  

Bio-Med Science Academy’s Amnesty International chapter participated in NWSA, which took place April 4 to April 8 — several weeks before Judge Summerhays released any statement on Title 42.

“We really only focused on ICE and their work in the past,” reported junior Keira Vasbinder, the secretary of the club.

In the past, Bio-Med’s Amnesty chapter focused on climate change, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, and abortion rights. For NWSA, the group researched current immigration policies and put up a station with brochures, pins, and a banner. Photo by Camryn Myrla, staff writer.

“None of us knew that this was going to happen, especially not even twenty days after [NWSA], but I don’t think any of us are that surprised,” she said.

“And the news came at such a bad time, where it’s too late in the school year to focus on this and get some real work done to protest anything,” Vasbinder explained. “The only thing we have time to do is post about it online, and maybe make posters. But it’s important that people hear us and understand how serious of a problem this [order] is.”

Katie Davos, the Youth and Student Program Specialist at Amnesty International, directed all student groups through NWSA.

“The Biden Administration cannot forget about the hundreds of thousands expelled at the border under Title 42,” Davos stated while advising student groups online. “Instead of harming and endangering people seeking safety, President Biden should take action to get people home, safe, and with their communities in the U.S.”


Editorial Note: Camryn Myrla is the coordinator of Bio-Med Science Academy’s Amnesty International chapter.

Bio-Med Club News Politics

Commentary: Abortion Bans Are Anything But Pro-Life

by Havann Brown, editor-in-chief

For almost 50 years, people have heavily relied on the holding in Roe v. Wade to make the decision about whether or not to have a baby. As the U.S. Supreme Court affirmed in the 1992 Planned Parenthood v Casey decision, “[t]he ability of women to participate equally in the economic and social life of the Nation has been facilitated by their ability to control their reproductive lives.” Photo by Havann Brown, editor-in-chief.

MAY 2022 — Abortion is currently legal everywhere in the United States. However, it appears that won’t be true for long. According to a leaked draft of a U.S. Supreme Court opinion written by Justice Samuel Alito in February, at least five of the court’s justices have voted to overturn Roe v. Wade, the 1973 decision recognizing the right to abortion, and Planned Parenthood v. Casey, the 1992 decision reaffirming that right.

“We hold that Roe and Casey must be overruled,” wrote Alito. “It is time to heed the Constitution and return the issue of abortion to the people’s elected representatives.”

He went on to state, “Roe was egregiously wrong,” and demonstrated that the court is looking to reject Roe’s legal protections.

It is unclear if the draft represents a final opinion, as justices have previously changed their views during the drafting process. The court’s holding will not be final until it is published, likely in the next two months.

If the Supreme Court overturns the nearly 50-year-old precedent granted by Roe’s abortion rights ruling, access to abortion will become a state-by-state issue, which would be a nightmare scenario.

An NBC News analysis of Center for Reproductive Rights data shows that 23 states would institute abortion bans. “Trigger laws,” or laws that would go into effect banning abortions when Roe is overturned, are on the books in 13 of those states. A second abortion-rights advocacy group, the Guttmacher Institute, counted as many as 26 states considered certain or likely to ban abortion ​​based on laws passed before and after Roe, in the event it was overturned.

In Ohio, abortion rights would likely be eliminated if Roe were overturned. Governor Mike DeWine has signed multiple horrific bills to ban abortion as early as six weeks gestation, require aborted fetuses to be buried or cremated, prevent medication abortions, and add rules that could shut down two Southwest Ohio abortion clinics. Additionally, a bill pending in the Ohio General Assembly would ban doctors from performing medication or surgical abortions, instituting a fourth-degree felony for violators.

Pictured is a sign from a May 5 protest in support of reproductive rights hosted by Kent State Univerity’s Chapter of Students for a Democratic Society. Since the leaking of the Supreme Court draft, protests have sparked all across the country, with many being hosted on college campuses. Photo provided by Jana Stone, a Kent State freshman.

Access to safe abortion services is a human right. Forcing someone to carry an unwanted pregnancy or to seek out an unsafe abortion is a violation of their human rights, including the rights to privacy and bodily autonomy. Furthermore, denying someone abortion care has devastating and lasting consequences for the pregnant person, as it can jeopardize their health, economic well-being, and ability to determine their future.

Restricting abortions does nothing to reduce the number of abortions that people have; it only forces people to seek out unsafe abortions. Alternatively, pregnancy carries more significant risks than abortion does. A 2021 research study predicted that abortion bans would lead to a 21 percent increase in pregnancy-related deaths.

People will die if Roe is overturned, which is far from the “pro-life” stance that opponents of abortion often take. According to NPR, before Roe, anywhere from 200,000 to 1,000,000 illegal abortions took place each year. A majority of the Supreme Court will have blood on their hands.

Those most harmed by these decisions will continue to be people of color, people in rural areas, young people, immigrants, and low-income individuals, who face systemic barriers to medical care. People living in areas considered “hostile” towards abortion would likely have to travel to a state with laws protecting abortion, which is highly inaccessible. Wealthy individuals will always have access to abortion, so ending Roe is an attack on the autonomy of the poor among many others.

In the past, justices have been hesitant when overturning a precedent, and usually only after public opinions toward the subject had changed. However, a majority of the American people support abortion rights. According to a January CNN poll, “nearly 70 percent of Americans do not want the Supreme Court to overturn Roe v. Wade.” Despite this issue being seized by vocal extremists, the numbers are certain; people support legal access to abortion.

With the leaking of the Supreme Court draft, one thing has been made terribly clear: the overturning of abortion rights is just the beginning. Alito’s reasoning for overturning Roe is simple. Since the Constitution doesn’t mention the word “abortion,” any claim that there is a constitutional right to one must show that legal abortions have been “deeply rooted in our nation’s history and traditions.”

Roe’s logic hinges on a person’s right to privacy. Overturning Roe could also undermine other rights to which Americans have grown accustomed, such as access to contraceptives and gay marriage, which also hinge on a right to privacy.

Even though the word “privacy,” like the word “abortion,” does not appear in the Constitution, justices have held the stance that it could be inferred from the text. Even if Alito is correct that legal abortion is not “deeply rooted” in our culture, he ignores the fact that women were denied nearly all rights we now take for granted for much of history.

Obviously, the Constitution says nothing about abortion, because it does not mention women. It was written by a group of all white and mostly wealthy men, who weren’t concerned with reproductive rights or any rights for women. Over the past century, the United States has rejected the worst of the founders’ beliefs and strived to respond to the needs of a changing society, either through constitutional amendments or modern interpretations of the text they created. So, why is abortion any different?

Overturning Roe is not about protecting human life; it is about control. In brazenly ignoring 50 years of its own precedent and the will of the American people, this draft ruling would destroy the legitimacy of the court. At best, abortion would only become inaccessible to those living in restricted areas. However, the more likely outcome would be an increase in maternal mortality and an influx of unwanted children. I truly hope that I am wrong. Everyone should have the right to decide what happens to their body. It’s that simple.

Abortion bans are not pro-life. They are pro-poverty, pro-inequality, and pro-cruelty.

General Interest Opinion Politics

Optional Masking Policies at Bio-Med Science Academy

by Elise Miller, staff writer

Pictured above is Mr. Salmen’s classroom on the first day that masking was made optional. Photo by Elise Miller, staff writer.

MARCH 2022 — Data showing signs of a decrease in COVID-19 cases resulted in the removal of the mask mandate at Bio-Med Science Academy March 7. Replacing the mandate is an optional masking policy, giving students and staff the option to wear a mask.

In the Bio-Med newsletter sent out on Feb. 25, it was confirmed the mandate would be lifted and replaced by optional masking at Bio-Med. The newsletter outlined the final decision: “While we recognize the virus is still present in our population, we also acknowledge that it is time to adjust our journey back with our case count on the decline,” wrote Mrs. Stephanie Lammlein, chief administrative officer of Bio-Med.

The newsletter also mentioned measures still being taken to prevent the spread of COVID-19, like supplying KN95 masks, continuing cleaning protocols, and making the masks mandated once again if cases increase substantially.

Before this decision, a Google Form was sent on Feb. 15 to Bio-Med students, asking how comfortable they would be if masks were optional. Presented to them were three simple choices: agree, disagree, or neutral. Beyond these choices lie complex perspectives and opinions surrounding optional masking.

The Google form also contained a brief introduction written by Lammlein. The form read, “Hello Everyone, As the COVID cases continue to significantly decline in our State [sic], region, and our school community, in addition to vaccinations being available to all our served age groups, we are currently considering making masking optional for staff and students. Please know that IF [sic] cases jump back up between now and June, we will bring masking back as a way to curb infection rate IF [sic] we decide to make masking optional. If you could, please take a moment and answer the question below. I would appreciate it. Thank you, Mrs. Lammlein.” Photo taken by Elise Miller, staff writer.

Mary Laudato, a junior at Bio-Med, decided against the optional masking policy when filling out the form.

Laudato elaborated on her decision, stating, “Ultimately masks are to prevent the spread of disease, and if we can do anything to help that, even if it’s uncomfortable for some people, I think that’s ultimately the best decision.”

Similarly, Sarah Bungard, another junior, voted against optional masking. She explained that there were a lot of situations optional masking doesn’t account for. “For example, our teacher Mrs. Aronhalt was talking about how she’s pregnant and does not want to be exposed to a bunch of kids who aren’t wearing masks while she’s pregnant,” said Bungard.

The removal of masks has also sparked another argument relating to vaccines. Now that masks are optional, individuals, whether they are vaccinated or unvaccinated against COVID-19, may choose not to wear one. With this, Bungard said that it would bother her to know unvaccinated people without masks could be putting others in danger, such as Mrs. Aronhalt.

From another perspective, senior Kaytlin Haylett chose for masking to be optional on the form. Haylett proposed that “If people are scared about it, they can still wear their masks to protect themselves.”

With regard to feeling safe when everyone wears a mask, Haylett expressed that she doesn’t feel it makes much of a difference. “It doesn’t really matter anymore, because it’s not going to change now because it wasn’t 100 percent effective from the start,” she explained.

She continued, “It’s affecting themselves, and that’s why I think it should be optional because it’s ultimately your decision if you want to protect yourself.”

Vaccinated students can also go without a mask if they choose. Maddy Ross, a senior at Bio-Med, explained, “I’m vaccinated [and] I’ve had COVID, but I still wear a mask just because it makes me feel more comfortable.”

Ross also noted that on top of controversy surrounding vaccination status and masking, there comes a social aspect as well. Ross discussed how she feels the social pressures of wearing a mask or not at her work.

“At work, no one wears a mask, and I kind of feel pressured by my bosses not to wear one because you can’t wear one and be the only one wearing a mask, because then customers are going to assume you’re sick,” explained Ross.

In contrast, social etiquette plays a role when only one person isn’t wearing a mask among others wearing masks. Derik Stafinsky, another senior, explained, “I feel like [if it were] only me not wearing a mask, it’d be the common decency thing to do [putting on a mask].”

Proposing a middle ground to optional masking, senior Alivia Selander suggested that masks should be mandated in close-encounter areas like the classroom, but not everywhere throughout the school when students are more spaced out. Selander supported masks being optional on the Google form.

As for getting the vaccine, Selander expressed that “I think it should be a choice.”

Mr. Eric Salmen, a vaccinated senior math teacher at Bio-Med, also discussed the concept of vaccines as a whole. He explained, “The first thing in science that you learn is to always question the science.” He noted how questioning the vaccine is a natural part of science.

In questioning the vaccine, he explained that “when you think of a traditional vaccine, you think of chickenpox where once you get that vaccine you can never get chickenpox.” However, unlike the chickenpox vaccine, Salmen felt that the COVID-19 vaccine resembled the effectiveness of a flu shot because of how quickly COVID-19 adapts.

Salmen explained that like a flu shot, he feels the COVID-19 vaccine will “help you against that strain but not necessarily all of the other strains.”

Salmen, along with other teachers at Bio-Med, was sent a separate form with similar contents asking his opinion on optional masking, which he did not support in his response.

Even though masks aren’t entirely effective in stopping the spread, Salmen stated that “It’s going to slow the spread because it’s going to catch those droplets,” when talking about the transferable molecules that spread COVID.

From a teaching perspective, Salmen said he might take his mask off while teaching, even though he plans to wear it any other time with optional masking in place.

He also mentioned how cleaning protocols still in place made him feel slightly better about optional masking.

One of the cleaning protocols in place is the air purifier machine. As explained by Salmen, “In each of the air purifiers, there is a filter and it’ll pull in air from the bottom and if you put your hand off to the side there is a vent that blows out and essentially filters that air.” Photo taken by Elise Miller, staff writer.

Sanitization is another cleaning procedure practiced at Bio-Med, where students wipe down their desks at the end of class. “We sanitize our areas for all kinds of cold and flu and COVID,” he said, elaborating on how sanitization combats other viruses similarly to the air purifiers.

But even with cleaning and social distancing measures being taken, Salmen expressed that the topic of optional masking is “going to be a scenario where you’ll never make everyone happy.”

Selander followed up with the new policy, expressing that things more or less felt back to normal now with some people choosing not to wear masks.

But in contrast, she stated, “I’m surprised with how many people actually are [wearing masks].”

Selander herself is in between wearing and not wearing her mask with the new policy, but stated that “If I’m by a large number of people I will still wear mine.”

No matter what people’s stances on wearing a mask at Bio-Med are, mask or no mask, they now have the right to choose until further notice.

Bio-Med Politics Uncategorized

From Banned Books to House Bills: To What Extent Should a School’s Curriculum be Regulated?

by Alyssa Cocchiola, associate editor

FEBRUARY 2022 — Many schools around the United States have pulled books off their shelves due to objectionable content and parental complaints. On top of this, several house bills were proposed to further censor the school curriculum. These regulations have caused many to wonder what the future of education holds.

“Maus: A Survivor’s Tale”

In Tennessee, the McMinn County Board of Education decided to remove the Pulitzer prize-winning book, “Maus: A Survivor’s Tale” by Art Spiegelman, from its school’s eighth-grade curriculum on Jan. 10. 2022.

During the 2020-2021 school year, Bio-Med Science Academy’s 10th-grade curriculum used the book to teach students about the Holocaust. Spiegleman’s novel follows the story of his father, Vladek Spiegelman, who was a Holocaust survivor. It illustrates the topic by depicting people as animals such as mice, dogs, and cats.

“Maus” was originally published in 1980. The book was released in two parts, with a collection of both parts, “Maus: A Survivor’s Tale,” releasing on a later date. The books pictured above are the copies that the class of 2023 read during their sophomore year at Bio-Med Science Academy. Photo by Alyssa Cocchiola, associate editor.

Nick Iurato, a junior at Bio-Med, shared his thoughts on the book’s banning. “I don’t think it should’ve been banned because I think ‘Maus’ is a good way to interpret what happened without getting too violent,” he said. “I think using animals was better than using real people.”

According to the meeting minutes of the McMinn County Board of Education, a unanimous vote led to the removal of the book due to the inclusion of eight curse words and nude imagery.

Ms. Candace Hisey, the former 10th-grade English language arts teacher at Bio-Med, stated, “If you were to ask any student from last year’s sophomore class what they remember about this novel, I don’t think a single one would say, ‘I remember the mouse nudity and the bad words.’ I have read the book countless times, and I actually had to re-read it to see what those who want it banned were talking about.”

She continued, “I find this deeply concerning for a couple of reasons. First, if we take every book containing language that someone might find offensive off the table, that eliminates much of the literary canon. Authors write about real people, and real people — especially people in stressful situations — swear sometimes. Additionally, it reduces this powerful, essential piece of literature down to one word on one page. We’re no longer paying attention to the atrocities committed against millions of people, the commentary on mental health, or the poignant reflection on aging and family dynamics. Instead, we’re all staring at a word that, if we moved past it, would fade into the background. It’s a convenient distraction.”

The book was integrated between language arts and history, taught by Hisey and the former history teacher, Mr. Collin Martau.  

Martau addressed the nudity in the book, stating, “Personally, I feel the whole effort is misguided and the justifications don’t quite stand to reason. The nudity in Maus (which let’s first acknowledge that the characters in question are cartoon mice…) is not represented in a sexual nature. If the school board is opposed to nudity as an absolute, then their next steps should be censoring their biology and art history books.”

When choosing the book for Bio-Med students, Martau and Hisey considered how “Maus” addressed the topic of the Holocaust. One of the reasons they decided to include the book in their curriculum was because it was from the perspective of a Holocaust survivor’s child.

“Art Spiegelman shows us what happened to these people and their families decades after the camps were liberated. He reveals how their trauma created ripples that carried into their children’s lives, and their children’s children’s lives. Rarely do historical events have tidy start and end dates, yet we’re often told that as a society we need to ‘get over’ things that happened before we were born. Art Spiegelman is still alive and kicking in New York, and his parents’ experiences in the Holocaust still have a profound effect on him and his family,” Hisey said.

After the class of 2023 finished reading “Maus,” students worked in groups for a project called “What Would It Take,” where they created a box filled with advice and historical research relating to human rights violations. Students worked in groups of four, with each student creating a box that addressed the one of the ten stages of genocide: classification, symbolisation, discrimination, dehumanization, organization, polorization, preparation, persecution, extermination, and denial. Students used historical examples to write a letter with advice to someone in a similar situation.

The ten stages of genocide were grouped into four stages: recognizing the signs, self-reflection, taking action, and confronting reality. The box shown above represents denial, and contains a letter, candle, quotes on the side of the box, a pamphlet, and an illustration on the lid. Photo by Alyssa Cocchiola, associate editor.

They also decided to use the novel since it presented the topic through cartoon drawings.

Martau explained, “One could argue ‘Maus’ would be more developmentally appropriate (especially in the McMinn circumstance) for a middle-school age student than using some existing photographs of Holocaust victims and mass grave sites.”

Ammon Hottensmith, another junior, elaborated on this, saying, “It’s a lot easier to learn from that book than it would have been just to look at actual pictures or videos or first-hand accounts of what actually happened, because we’re not masked behind something that made it lighter and easier, but it still carries the message.”

During the McMinn County School Board meeting, the board called upon several ELA teachers and board members to share their thoughts on the matter. During the meeting, they did not have a substitute book in mind to replace “Maus” with.

“In reading the minutes from the McMinn County Board meeting, it’s clear that some opposed to the inclusion of ‘Maus’ completely miss its messaging,” Martau said. “One board member stated, ‘It shows people hanging, it shows them killing kids, why does the educational system promote this kind of stuff, it is not wise or healthy.’ The reality of this situation is that a decision about education for an entire school district of learners is in part being made by an individual who seems to believe that a depiction of historically accurate genocidal violence is inherently promoting it.”

He continued, “Another individual on this board stated, ‘I thought the end was stupid to be honest with you. A lot of the cussing had to do with the son cussing out the father, so I don’t really know how that teaches our kids any kind of ethical stuff.’ If you remember from our unit last year, what this board member is describing is the ending of Part I where the main character learns that his father had destroyed letters from his late mother — not the ending of the whole novel. I’m left wondering if this board member who voted to ban the book bothered to read the whole thing to understand the context of the reaction.”

Removal of LGBTQ+ Books
“Maus,” however, is not the first book to be banned from schools. In Texas, Katy Independent School District (Katy ISD) has banned several books containing content related to racism and sexuality due to complaints from parents. Both McMinn County and Katy ISD removed books due to the inclusion of topics that were projected to make some students or parents uncomfortable.

“Why are we sexualizing our precious children?” asked one of the supporters for the banned books at the Katy ISD meeting, in an NBC news report.

In the same report, Iris Chang, a Katy Independent School District junior student who identifies as queer, stated that she believes that parents want to “keep their children in this protected bubble in which the only opinions they really hear are the ones that they themselves represent.”
The district administration at Katy ISD banned the books, “Out of Darkness” by Ashley Hope, “Lawn Boy” by Johnathan Evison, “Losing the Girl Book 1” by Mari Naomi, “Me and Earl and the Dying Girl” by Jesse Andrews, “The Nerdy and Dirty” by B.T. Gottfred, “All Boys Aren’t Blue” by George M. Jackson, “Jack of Hearts (and Other Parts)” by L.C. Rosen, “Forever for a Year” by B.T. Gottfred, and “The Handsome Girl and Her Beautiful Boy” by B.T. Gottfred from their school. Most of the complaints about these books were based off of the inclusion of LGBTQ+ characters, obscene language, or sexual content. Photo by Alyssa Cocchiola, associate editor.

Hisey shared her thoughts on the Katy Independent School District’s decision to remove these books.

“My own firm support for the LGBTQ+ community aside, I think that young people should learn everything they can about the world they are entering into. They will encounter LGBTQ+ people in their lives. For as long as there have been humans, there have been LGBTQ+ humans. They have contributed to science, literature, art, politics, and business. They will be your bosses, your coworkers, your doctors, your cashiers, and your family. I don’t see any value in pretending they don’t exist, which is what we’re doing when we ban books with LGBTQ+ representation,” she said.

Bio-Med students, like Iurato, shared similar thoughts on this. Iurato noted that children could have trouble coming out in the first place, and the removal of the books would not help create a welcoming environment for those students.

“When parents of kids who they think are straight are like, ‘Yeah, ban that book because it has gay-related stuff,’ I don’t think parents should have a say. I think it should be the school district that has a say because lots of parents are gonna be like, ‘Yeah, my kid is straight so he doesn’t need to learn about that,’ but it’s not like no one’s gay. It’s very common, so people need to learn what it’s like to live with everyone. You need to be comfortable with everyone you encounter, because there will be people you don’t like, but you have to encounter everyone in jobs and whatever career you choose, so you have to get comfortable,” Iurato said.

During the same meeting to ban the LGBTQ+ books from the school, a parent argued that a Michelle Obama biography should have been banned, claiming that it promoted “reverse racism.” Unlike the other books, Katy ISD determined that the book did not promote “reverse racism” and was deemed appropriate to remain on the shelves of their school district.

According to the NBC news report, around 100 school districts in Texas reported requests from parents to remove books within the first four months of the 2021-2022 school year. During the year prior, only one complaint was made, whereas this year, it was reported that there were at least 75 formal complaints by parents from schools around the state combined.

Hottensmith noted that the banning of books would not stop students from learning about those concepts, as they would be able to access the same information online — the only difference being that it would not be presented in a regulated environment like school.

“What you see and what you are going to perceive from it is going to be different than if you just look it up and find it out yourself, so it would be healthier,” he said.

Hisey elaborated on this, stating that she believes education growth is not possible without discomfort. However, she believed that an educational environment is the best place for students to learn about things that may make them uncomfortable.

“It’s a safe environment where the goal is to educate and empower,” she explained. “Students have adults in the room who won’t judge them and will help find answers to any questions they have. Why would we want young people to encounter uncomfortable material for the first time on their own, without context or support? When we do that, we assume that whatever they find on their own, from their friends or on the internet, is better than what they would learn in a thoughtful and carefully considered curriculum.”

The Parental Rights in Education Bill

On top of regulating what books students are allowed to read in school, a proposed Florida bill has the potential to further regulate a school’s curriculum. Florida’s recent Parental Rights in Education bill, or House Bill (HB) 1557, has the potential to limit the discussion of gender identity and sexual orientation all together.

Also commonly referred to as the “Don’t Say Gay Bill,” HB 1557 aims to require schools to notify parents about any “critical decisions affecting a student’s mental, emotional, or physical well-being.” It was initially filed on Jan. 11 and has yet to be approved.

The bill states that, “A school district may not encourage classroom discussion about sexual orientation or gender identity in primary grade levels or in a manner that is not age-appropriate or developmentally appropriate for students.”

This means that any discussion relating to those topics would not be allowed in kindergarten through fifth grade. Since the bill does not elaborate on what an “age-appropriate” manner is, any discussion of sexual orientation or identity in grades six through 12 that a parent deemed inappropriate could be subject to legal action. The bill states, “A parent of a student may bring an action against a school district to obtain a declaratory judgment that a school district procedure or practice violates this paragraph and seek injunctive relief. A court may award damages and shall award reasonable attorney fees and court costs to a parent who receives declaratory or injunctive relief.”

Hottensmith concluded his thoughts, stating, “I don’t think politics should affect what we learn in schools, unless it’s government obviously, but I don’t think personal political bias should affect what we do and what we learn. I don’t think they should be able to…regulate what you’re allowed to say or what you are allowed to do, or if you have to be a certain age to come out. I feel like you should be able to do that on your own time or whenever, because it’s your life. People shouldn’t be able to regulate what you do with yourself or identity because everyone is growing and learning as they age and grow up.”

Since a Floridian school would be required to notify parents of a students’ emotional well-being, it is likely that if a student in the LGBTQ+ community were to come out to a trusted teacher, their parents would have to be notified.

As of Jan. 25, the bill has been sent to the Judiciary Committee. If HB 1557 is passed, it will be enacted on July 1, 2022.

When being asked about how much say a parent should have in education, Hisey noted that it was not a simple answer.

“This is tricky, right? Let’s say my child’s teacher wanted to teach them that the Holocaust never happened, or that slavery was a good thing. As a parent, I would want my complaints about such a curriculum to be heard. The difference, I think, is that someone choosing to teach those events in that way would have to completely disregard historical evidence. At the end of the day, I trust teachers. I trust that any person who goes into this profession values knowledge and wants what is best for young people. We trust our doctors with our health, we trust our accountants with our taxes, and we need to trust our teachers with educating our children,” she said.

Though Martau believed that “Maus” and other content that was banned was developmentally appropriate for middle school and high school students, he also recommended a less extreme alternative to requesting the removal of a book a parent or student is uncomfortable with.

“If a parent or guardian feels uncomfortable with a classroom material their child may be using, they should have that dialogue with the teacher. I would like to think that any competent teacher would be willing to provide that child with an alternate material and assignment to meet those needs,” he said.

Martau concluded, “The ironic part to this whole story is that after McMinn County voted to ban ‘Maus, sales of the book in the general public skyrocketed. Their action here wound up putting what they consider a controversial book in more hands than may have otherwise sought it out. Over the weekend, Forbes reported that ‘after widespread coverage of the ban in the fourth week of January, 14,630 copies of the books were sold, a 753 percent increase from the first week of the month.’”

The Hive attempted to contact several board members from the McMinn County Board and the board of Katy ISD; no board members from either school responded to the Hive’s inquiry.

Related Content: The Battle of Banned Books

General Interest Politics