Preening legislators aren’t unique. Every state has ’em. You send a fairly normal citizen with a little sense to the Legislature, and inside of two months something happens.
When not in session, citizen legislators are just that — citizens. They are insurance salesmen, CPAs, lawyers and grandmas. But during the session, legislators get primped like French poodles. Lobbyists feed them. Special interests brush them. Reporters report every poop and bark.
This phenomenon was in full evidence in Nevada last week when legislators advanced Assembly Bill 230, which seeks to teach children in public school about the birds and the bees in a more “comprehensive” way.
Not sure what “comprehensive” will mean exactly, but you can bet it’ll start with showing youngsters how to put a Ziploc bag over a cucumber and go from there.
Why must Nevadans double down on sex education? Because, not to put too fine a point on the argument blaring out of Carson City, Nevada girls are easy.
Nevada has the nation’s fourth-highest teen pregnancy rate, therefore public schools need a more “comprehensive” birds-and-bees curriculum so Silver State girls don’t lead the league in unwise sex.
And there’s more.
To sell this sex education bill, progressive legislators are getting racial about it.
As easy as Nevada girls are, you see, Nevada’s Hispanic girls are really, really easy. That comes from the mouth of Sen. Ruben Kihuen, D-Las Vegas. According to him, that’s because Hispanic parents never talk to their children about sex. So government must do it.
Lest you think I am making this up, take a look at this excerpt from the Reno Gazette-Journal’s Ray Hagar, who interviewed Kihuen about AB230, and Assemblywoman Lucy Flores, D-Las Vegas, who testified in favor of the bill and revealed that she got pregnant as a teen and had it aborted.
“ ‘You saw a lot of teen pregnancies in the high school she and I went to (Rancho High School in Las Vegas),’ Kihuen said. ‘And a lot of that had to do with a lack of (sex) education.’
“Kihuen said Flores’ lack of sex education at the time was partially a cultural thing, noting that Rancho’s student population was about 75 percent Hispanic at the time.
“Kihuen said that in Latino homes ‘it’s taboo to talk to your kids about sex. You just don’t.’ ”
Wait a minute. No Hispanic mom or dad talks to the kids about sex because it’s a “cultural thing”? That’s quite an indictment of a people.
It is also a leap too far to assert that Flores would have avoided sex, pregnancy and abortion had she been better educated at elementary school about cucumbers and Ziploc bags.
That’s not to say the story Flores has chosen to tell us isn’t a compelling one. It most certainly is. She was one of 13 children raised by a single father. All of her sisters got pregnant as teens. She witnessed the hardships they experienced. So when her dad — being Hispanic, according to Kihuen — didn’t talk to her about sex, she got pregnant. She says she broke the cycle by getting an abortion.
I make no judgments about Flores’ decisions. But it seems to me that her story is a complete sidebar to the question of whether Nevada needs a more “comprehensive” sex education law.
The far more interesting question brought forward by her testimony is who was more courageous, Flores or her sisters?
I’d love to hear that thoughtfully discussed in the Legislature, perhaps including the take of Lucy’s nieces and nephews.
Instead, we have AB230. Social conservatives on one side. Liberals on the other. And wanna-be leaders unwittingly (I hope) contending that not only are Nevada girls easy, Nevada’s Hispanic girls are really, really easy.
That only makes sense in a legislature.
In living rooms across the country, it’s just weird.
Sherman Frederick, former publisher of the Las Vegas Review-Journal and a member of the Nevada Newspaper Hall of Fame, writes a column for Stephens Media. Read his blog at www.reviewjournal.com/columns-blogs/sherman-frederick.