SICB lifts boycott of New Orleans


The executive committee of the Society for Integrative and Comparative Biology is again willing to consider New Orleans to host the society's annual meetings. Back in 2009, the society decided not to hold any future meetings in New Orleans owing to "the official position of the state in weakening science education and specifically attacking evolution in science curricula," according to a February 5, 2009, letter (PDF) from SICB's president, Richard Satterlie, to Louisiana's governor Bobby Jindal. Particularly of concern to SICB was the so-called Louisiana Science Education Act, enacted in 2008, which threatens to open the door for creationism and scientifically unwarranted critiques of evolution to be taught in the state's public school science classes. The cost to Louisiana's economy in 2011, when SICB held its meeting in Salt Lake City rather than New Orleans, was estimated at $2.7 million.

Now, however, citing "the May 2011 New Orleans City Council's unanimous vote rejecting the teaching of creationism as science and the December 2012 Orleans Parish School Board's decision to prohibit the teaching of creationism or intelligent design in classes designated as science classes," SICB is lifting its boycott for the city. In a column published by WWLTV (January 14, 2013), activist Zack Kopplin, who helped to organize both of those votes as well as the lifting of the SICB boycott, commented, "In this creationism-riddled state, New Orleans is a bright spot," praising the city council and the parish school board for "standing up for science." Kopplin concluded, "Teaching creationism is wrong, and we must keep up fighting it in Louisiana, but thanks to y'all our state's policy appears to be evolving to a more scientific place."