"Respect Requires Repeal"

Barbara ForrestBarbara Forrest

Barbara Forrest explains the murky origins and adverse effects of the so-called Louisiana Science Education Act — and argues that respect for the integrity of science education requires a repeal of the antievolution law — in a long essay posted at the Louisiana Progress website on May 18, 2011.

"This law was promoted only by creationists," Forrest recounts. "Neither parents, nor science teachers, nor scientists requested it. No one wanted it except the Louisiana Family Forum (LFF), a religious organization that lobbies aggressively for its regressive agenda, and the Discovery Institute (DI), a creationist think tank in Seattle, Washington, that couldn't care less about Louisiana children."

"Besides damaging Louisiana's already tattered reputation concerning public education," Forrest continues, "the LSEA has done tangible harm, the most compelling example being the SICB boycott" — where the Society for Integrative and Comparative Biology boycotted New Orleans in favor of Salt Lake City for its 2011 meeting, with the cost to the city estimated at 2.7 million dollars.

Perhaps worse, antievolutionists have not only sought to undermine the law's provision allowing challenges to unsuitable supplementary materials but also invoked the law to support proposals to teach creationism in the public schools of at least two parishes (Livingston and Tangipahoa) and to attack the treatment of evolution in biology textbooks proposed for adoption by the state.

Forrest concludes, "If the legislature and Gov. Jindal truly want to make Louisiana a great place to live and raise a family rather than merely a colorful tourist attraction and the object of catastrophe-induced pity, the legislature must repeal this law." Senate Bill 70, which would do so, is currently scheduled for a hearing in the Senate Education Committee on May 26, 2011, according to Zack Kopplin of Repeal Creationism.

A member of NCSE's board of directors, Forrest is Professor of Philosophy at Southeastern Louisiana University and a founder of the Louisiana Coalition for Science. Louisiana Progress informs, engages, and mobilizes community leaders, activists, advocates, and policymakers to lead Louisiana into the 21st century.