Bob McDermott, it seems, is obsessed with anuses.

In particular, the state legislator believes that the anus is not the same as a penis or a vagina because it isn’t involved in making babies.

Public schools should not teach kids in grades 6-8 that anal sex is appropriate behavior — something the Republican representing Ewa, Ewa Beach and Iroquois Point, argues is part of the “agenda” of a Department of Education sex-ed program called Pono Choices.

“The anus is presented as genitalia, just another sex organ,” he informed reporters at a press conference at the Capitol Thursday. “This is another example of forced ‘equality’ by ignoring the natural function of the rectum and anus. Therefore ‘political’ correctness dictates that the male rectum and the female vagina are ‘equal’ in terms of being sexual organs. This totally ignores the obvious facts of human biology and reproduction.”

McDermott wants the DOE to pull Pono Choices from schools or revise it to his liking because, he contends, it is not medically accurate or age-appropriate, and it does not adequately warn of the dangers of sex between gay men.

Pulling Pono Choices, at this point, doesn’t seem likely. The DOE did just that late last year because some lawmakers (including McDermott) had complained about it during the special session on same-sex marriage. But after a review, the department determined that the program’s lessons are in fact medically accurate and appropriate; in mid-December the DOE reinstated the program for school use.

“The representative has raised this time and time again,” DOE spokeswoman Donalyn Dela Cruz told Civil Beat Thursday. “We stand by our position.”

The state legislator isn’t giving up, though. McDermott managed to get a copy of Pono Choices from UH Manoa Chancellor Tom Apple, and he doesn’t like what’s in there. Pono Choices is funded by the federal Office of Adolescent Health and developed by UH Center on Disability Studies. McDermott said DOE Superintendent Kathryn Matayoshi refused to provide the lawmaker a copy, but Dela Cruz told Civil Beat the DOE was happy to share the information but recommended McDermott go over the material with university staff.

McDermott says he may take his concerns to the Board of Education, and he says he’ll introduce a resolution this legislative session requiring that “anything” taught in the schools be “medically accurate.” Resolutions are non-binding, and state law already requires that sex-ed curriculum be medically accurate.

PF Bentley/Civil Beat

But McDermott holds views on human sexuality that are not supported by credible studies. Not only should gay men not have anal sex, the legislator said, but men who have anal sex with women are misogynistic. They are objectifying women, he explained. He also has problems with oral sex, which he said should be defined as mouth-on-genitals, not mouth-on-anus.

Asked to explain why some women have anal sex with each other, McDermott seemed surprised that such practices exist, calling it “out of the mainstream.”

That prompted someone in the conference room audience to respond, “You haven’t been to a toy store [for adults].”

‘Aberrant Behavior’

McDermott acknowledged that he considered gay sex “aberrant behavior.”

“Why do you hate gay people?” another audience member then asked.

“I don’t,” he said, copies of publications with titles such as “Stonewall Revisited” and “The Journal of Human Sexuality” spread out in front of him.

A reporter from the Honolulu Star-Advertiser got up and left McDermott’s press conference, muttering, “This is performance art.”

PF Bentley/Civil Beat

McDermott certainly attracted attention to the issue. His press conference drew a wide array of media, along with opponents and supporters of Pono Choices. A 15-minute PowerPoint presentation and an accompanying printout provided plenty of useful quotes. (E.g.: “Reproductive organs: The group of organs (including testes, ovaries, and uterus) whose purpose is to produce a new individual and continue the species.”)

A press release from McDermott’s office used bold, underlined and italic type to emphasize points. And every time the word “anus” was used in the PowerPoint, it was in red lettering to contrast with the white lettering used for penis and vagina. (McDermott accused the broadcast media of being uncomfortable using the word, as if it were a Scarlet A.)

McDermott appears to genuinely believe what he says. He is the father of children who he fears will be exposed to the “social engineering” of Pono Choices. He fears they will be “inculcated” with things he does not agree with. On the political front, such moves garner him attention that help to boost his political profile.

But there is the risk that Bob McDermott, the man who sued to stop same-sex marriage, comes off as a one-issue politician who has a real problem with anal sex.

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