Our Two Cents



Pro Choice:

Abortion is a very controversial topic and there are two very distinct sides when it comes to the issue. Many people will say that abortion is “murder and the killing of an innocent human being is wrong, even if that human being has yet to be born.” But there are other people the take the side of Pro-Choice. These people believe that women have the choice to get rid of their fetus because it is their body, therefore it is their choice. Reproductive choice helps to empower women, by giving them “control of their body”. Having a choice to keep or discard the fetus, helps women to gain independence and establish their futures more freely. Pro-Life groups will argue that a fetus is a human being from the moment of conception; but studies show that a fetus is incapable of feelings pain during the abortion. “A 2005 University of California at San Francisco study said fetuses probably can't feel pain until the 29th or 30th week of gestation.” Most abortions happen before this point in the pregnancy, it is very rare that women get an abortion this late.

With the advanced technology and high-tech tools that doctors these days have access to, abortions are very safe medical procedures. Women come out of the operation safe, healthy, and unharmed. Not only are abortions safe physically, they are safer psychological. Women that have abortions say they feel more relief and are happier than women who are denied abortions. Women that are denied abortions say they have regret , because they were not allowed to have their own choice about their bodies.  If a women does not want to have a baby, then she should have the option to abort the fetus. A baby should not have to come into the world unwanted, so the mother should have the option to save the baby from a life of neglect and misery.

During ultrasounds and checkups in the early stages of pregnancy, mothers can discover that there are abnormalities with the baby. Whether the baby has a terminal illness, or a physical or mental disability; a mother may not want to bring a child into this world if they can not live life to the fullest. In some cases the baby could be missing crucial body parts, such as a brain, or the organs could be outside of the body. The baby could not be able to live a normal life, if it even makes it through the pregnancy. This would only put the mother and the rest of the family through emotional trauma.

Being Pro-Choice is trusting the individual to make the right decision for herself and for her family, and not entrusting that decision to anyone the authority of government in any regard.” - Hillary Clinton. Every women should have the option to decide whether or not to keep her fetus. If any woman chooses to have an abortion, that is her choice and her prerogative because after all, it is HER body. Women that are denied abortions are more likely to become unemployed, on public welfare, and more likely to become victims of domestic violence. Before a women even has an abortion, she has to go through counseling sessions to make sure she is making the right decision for herself and her well being. If the right for a women to have an abortions is taken away, this will not stop them from having abortions, it will just lead them to find a new (Most Likely unsafe) way to get rid of the fetus. Pro-Choice is not “supporting murder” or “justifying baby slaughtering” is giving the option to women everywhere to have control over their own bodies and giving them the right to make their own decisions in life.



The Declaration of Independence was written on June 11, 1776 and has continual influence even today. Within the Declaration of Independence it is clearly stated the right for life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, are these rights not directly disregarded in reference to abortion? By aborting a child you are taking way a human beings opportunity for life, and further limiting that child from liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

4 out of 5 women who receive an ultrasound before their abortion decided to keep their baby. This statistic speaks to how confused and unaware women seeking abortions can be. Furthermore, you may be questioning who is to blame from this unjust act. I would suggest the doctors who knowingly take the life of another human being. As a doctor they make a pledge to try and save all human life, abortion definitively opposes this pledge. To take it a step further, I would like to say that the United States government carries the utmost weight of this wrongdoing, by abortions legalization nationwide.

Pro choice supporters may suggest that abortion isn't murder because a fertilized zygote is not a person. While this may appear to be an appropriate response, it is not backed up by science. As soon as the sperm fertilizes an egg and the body recognizes that it is pregnant, the blueprints or exact DNA makeup for a specific person are formed. It's not as if when you get an abortion you are aborting thousands of unfertilized eggs, rather, you are aborting the components to form an exact person. Abortion can occur when a woman is into their second trimester, during the second trimester the baby can be 13-26 weeks old. During the second trimester the babies organs fully develop, the baby begins to hear, and the baby can move around. At this point, the average weight is 2 pounds, and height is 14 inches. At this point it is still legal to receive an abortion in some states within the US.

Pro life individuals are believers that a life is a life not matter how small, and that taking away the life of child still in the womb is still unjust. Abortion took the lives of 652,639 defenseless babies unable to protect themselves. Be pro life and value human life.  


- Featured Writers -

Sophie Varndell & Alma Richardson


girl holding a plastic water bottle and a reusable water bottle

Keep The Plastic!

     The argument on The Water Bottle Ban is an ever growing topic of controversy. There are points to this argument that state that pollution is ever growing and this is all because of water bottles. I disagree with this statement because water bottles are a small fraction of the massive amounts of pollution that resides in our oceans. The positives of water bottles certainly outweigh the negatives when it come to keeping water bottles or getting rid of them.
​     One of the biggest pros of keeping water bottles is the health of people. The opportunity that people have to drink water now is one of the reasons society as a whole is healthier than they would be without this opportunity. Without the easy access to water bottles people will be more likely to go for sodas and sugary drinks, which in turn would result in the increasing obesity across the world. The International Bottled Water Association recently did a study on this and their results were undeniable. “research shows that if bottled water isn't available, 63 percent of people will choose soda or another sugared drink – not tap water.” - International Bottled Water Association. 
        Not only does this affect the overlying health of society but it affects the emergency health of people. Bottled water is always carried in ambulances, life flight helicopters, fire trucks, or any emergency vehicle in case of emergency. Without bottled water they would have no way of getting water to people that need it. Bottled water also is absolutely necessary when there are environmental disasters such as hurricanes, tornados, earthquakes, tsunamis, etc. When the disasters happen people's ability to drink tap water is taken away because there is limited, if any, electricity to have tap water. Bottled water is mandatory in these situations for peoples critical health.
        Setting aside the importance of how crucial bottled water is to people's health, it very much effects the economy as well. The ban of bottled water would severely damage small businesses. Consumers access to bottled water would be eliminated and that would negatively impact small businesses. The International Bottled Water Association did a survey by Harris Poll that discovered, “93% of Americans think ‘bottled water should be available wherever drinks are sold,’ with 31% saying that they only, or mostly only, drink bottled water”. It is clearly evident that the sale and production of bottled water needs to continue. It is a valuable part of our economy and will directly affect the health of society if it is taken away.


In 2017, Americans consumed 13.7 billion gallons of bottled water, according to a study done by IBWA. Of the 13.7 billion gallons consumed only 30% was recycled; leaving 70% to pollute the earth. This pollution is extremely unnecessary. In fact, during the Ocean Conservancy International Coastal cleanup plastic water bottles were the third most common item collected. 
Some of the damage streaming from the use of plastic water bottles occurs even before the actual water bottles are made. The majority of plastic water bottles are made out of polyethylene terephthalate or PET; it takes about ¼ of a bottle of oil to produce a single plastic water bottle. Now, take the ¼ of a bottle of oil it takes to produce one bottle and multiply it by the billions of water bottles created each year; It is estimated 17 million barrels of oil. While this oil is being used to make water bottles, this oil could instead be used to fuel millions of vehicles or power thousands of homes. Don’t think that’s important? Let’s take a look at the effect that the production of plastic water bottles is having on the atmosphere. Every year 2.5 million tons of carbon dioxide is released into the atmosphere. This massive discharge of carbon dioxide is merely amplifying the greenhouse effect, releasing harmful emissions and assisting in global warming. 
Although bottled water does provide a healthy and efficient choice for consumers, the negative effects that these bottles have on the earth far outweigh the mere convenience. In conclusion, banning plastic water bottles is in the best interest for not only the earth, but everyone living on it. 
All statistics and information presented throughout this article was provided by Printwand. 

- Featured Writers -

Sophie Varndell & Alma Richardson



     The use of new technology that is being instituted into educational systems is not only costly and unreliable but it is unnecessary as well. Within the last 10 years educational systems have been introducing more and more technology into classrooms. With this new reality every student has the access to technology at their fingertips. While this might seem great, it is not all it’s made up to be. The technology is often unreliable and the internet is spotty. This might not seem like an inconvenience, but with the schools getting rid of most hard copies of worksheets, books, and even whiteboards, it is almost impossible to go through a normal school day with receiving a proper education. With textbooks, you know that you will always have access to learning and can continue with your school day with no mishaps involving technology. 
    Not only is having technology unreliable but it is ridiculously expensive to provide countless students across the country with costly IPads, tablets, smart boards, etc. Today’s Apple IPad costs $649.00, that is costly by itself, let alone being purchased for millions of students in the United States. The money that schools have should be spent on reliable school supplies, that benefit all students in their educational career. 
    Technology might not even be what is best for students. A recent study shows that 87% of K-12 teachers believe that, “today’s digital technologies are creating an easily distracted generation with short attention spans.” When the question is, “technology or textbooks?” always choose what is most reliable. 



The penny is the root of all U.S. currency so why would we, the product of our four fathers, take it upon ourselves to execute one of the most crucial parts of our change system. Not only does the penny portray the face of one of the most kind and influential men in history but the penny has helped raise thousands of dollars for many charities. These charities include Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, Salvation Army, and the Ronald McDonald House. These charities have held an abundance of fundraisers revolving around pennies. Pennies might be miniscule in value but you’d be surprised, if you collect enough, they eventually add up to a nice chunk of change.
       Opposing parties on this controversial issue will say that the penny is too costly to produce, but actually the nickel is much more costly to produce. Both the penny and the nickel cost more than their face value, but that is no reason to stop producing America’s sweetheart of change. The penny is a crucial part of the U.S. currency and a huge part of history that is still thriving in modern day. To get rid of the penny is to get rid of American tradition!
The idea of removing the penny from circulation is not a new notion. Pennies have practically no value in the present day; in fact, vending machines and parking meters don't even accept them. Americans place little value on the penny. When I asked a Maplewood student, Kersten Nageotte, if she would stop to pick up a penny in the street, she replied simply, “Absolutely not.” Yet another Maplewood student, Lily Bulman, confessed to going as far to throw a penny away. As said by comedian John Oliver, “Two percent of Americans admitted to regularly throwing pennies in the garbage, which means the US Mint is spending millions to make garbage.”
     Furthermore, from a financial standpoint, the penny is a lost cause. A study that was done shows that it costs at least two pennies to produce one. In addition, the production of the penny is bad for the environment. Mining zinc and copper creates carbon dioxide emissions and pollutants along with consuming great amounts of energy. At the least, the penny is a hassle to handle at the point of purchase and would simply not missed. All in all, the negative effects of the penny far outweigh the positives and it is clearly time to retire the American one cent.



The idea of removing the penny from circulation is not a new notion. Pennies have practically no value in the present day; in fact, vending machines and parking meters don't even accept them. Americans place little value on the penny. When I asked a Maplewood student, Kersten Nageotte, if she would stop to pick up a penny in the street, she replied simply, “Absolutely not.” Yet another Maplewood student, Lily Bulman, confessed to going as far to throw a penny away. As said by comedian John Oliver, “Two percent of Americans admitted to regularly throwing pennies in the garbage, which means the US Mint is spending millions to make garbage.”
     Furthermore, from a financial standpoint, the penny is a lost cause. A study that was done shows that it costs at least two pennies to produce one. In addition, the production of the penny is bad for the environment. Mining zinc and copper creates carbon dioxide emissions and pollutants along with consuming great amounts of energy. At the least, the penny is a hassle to handle at the point of purchase and would simply not missed. All in all, the negative effects of the penny far outweigh the positives and it is clearly time to retire the American one cent.

- Featured Writers -

Sophie Varndell & Alma Richardson

Legalize Marijuana 


     Should marijuana be legal everywhere? This complicated question has posed social issues for many years. It is my belief that the legalization of marijuana is in the best interest of the world as a whole. A boost in the economy would be a result of the legalization of cannabis through the implementation of this industry. Furthermore, this legalization would create thousands of jobs needed around the world. 
     Another point I would like to place emphasis on is how the legalization of marijuana would take money away from black markets and drug cartels, “Data from the US Border Patrol show that marijuana seizures have decreased by millions of pounds and are at their lowest levels in over a decade, indicating that legal domestic production is decreasing demand for marijuana.” In addition, other studies have been done that suggest that crime rates go down significantly with the legalization of marijuana. Yet another point that needs brought to light is how the legalization of this herb would free up police resources. Not to mention, the amount of money that would be saved without the costly upkeep and enforcement of marijuana laws. By taking away laws restricting marijuana use you are also alleviating police time, energy, and money which then could be properly distributed elsewhere. In conclusion, the positives of legalizing marijuana far outweigh any minor negative aspects.


      The legalization of marijuana would be detrimental to society. This gateway drug would open the the gate to more and more toxic drugs being accepted into everyday life. The legalization of marijuana, in some states (ex. Colorado), has already spiked the percentage of teenagers that use marijuana on a daily basis. Ages 12-25 are crucial years for the young, developing brain and the growth in the brain comes to a screeching halt when a teen begins to use marijuana. Short term memory loss, decrease in concentration, difficulty problem solving, and great interference in learning, are just some of the ways that marijuana is harmful to the human brain.           
​      The lives lost in tragic car accidents involving drug or alcohol impairment have rapidly increased since the legalization of weed. The numbers have jumped to over 62% of deaths in drug impaired car accidents are related to the use of marijuana. The recreational use of marijuana needs to be stopped before it even gets started. As of right now marijuana for recreational use is legal in some states, and I believe that even that needs to be stopped. Marijuana is an addictive drug ad the legalization of it will only give people permission to get more and more addicted to the mind warping drug. This will, in turn, make it more difficult for people to stop producing and using the drug when and if the government ever decided to prohibit it again. 
     The government that looks over our lives is constantly finding ways to limit or restrict our use of things that can harm us. They don't allow the use of alcohol until 21 years of age, they prohibit cigarettes and cigars until 18 years old; and many other things such as wearing seatbelts, purchasing firearms, and attending school, all of these laws are made to better the society. So let's continue to encourage our government to make good decisions and protect their citizens from the consequences that legalizing marijuana would spew upon society. 

Should Drugs Be Legal?


We all agree that drugs like heroin or cocaine are dangerous. According to the CDC, around 72,000 people died from overdose last year. This includes all drugs that you can overdose on. This death toll is so high despite the most dangerous drugs being illegal. Laws and policemen can’t keep drugs from people. Even though marijuana is a Schedule 1 drug and is banned in most of the states, the number of people who regularly use the drug is very high (pun intended). An estimated 19.8 million people had used marijuana in the past month in a study done by a government agency while only 1.5 million had used cocaine. This large discrepancy isn’t because cocaine is “more illegal” than marijuana because it’s rated at the same level as cocaine. It’s because people know that cocaine is dangerous. This proves that getting caught is not a big deterrent of illegal drug use.

People get their illegal drugs on black markets. It’s not hard to get them either, but it’s dangerous. Because drug users and dealers can’t take their problems up with the police, they use guns. If people could take up their issues with the police, then our drug infested slums would no longer be crime infested.

If drugs were regulated by the state, we could not only profit from them, but people would know how much they’re using. Cocaine can come to you as pure cocaine, or can be diluted to produce a weaker form and more profits. Many people who overdose on cocaine just assume that their cocaine is diluted and end up taking too much. Opiates such as heroin can be laced with fentanyl-an extremely potent synthetic opiate which is much easier to overdose on. Marijuana can also be laced to make the user hooked on the drug. California brought in 72 million dollars from taxes on marijuana. If this is done in all states and for all drugs, we could finally fund our schools and improve infrastructure. We’d take the profits away from violent drug lords and move them to improving our societies.

Drug use has plagued the US for generations. We can’t escape it and it’s not slowing down. We should focus on damage control not the control of what people decide to do. Why not profit from it?


Should school sports make cuts? Recently, my basketball coach breached the issue of whether to make cuts or not this year. In past years, we didn't have an outrageous amount of girls, so making cuts wasn't a discussion topic. Currently, we have twenty-one girls on our team. Is that too many to warrant making cuts?
    When asking the question casually to my journalism class, volleyball players quickly supported dismissing players. Understanding the sports dynamic of Maplewood, that makes sense. The girls volleyball team is infamous for cutting girls as early as seventh grade. When I asked these girls if they've ever been cut and they answered no, it made me wonder how someone who's experienced being cut from a team felt like.
    The few people I talked to that were cut from a sports team were cut in junior high. That didn't settle right with me. Junior high should be about learning the skills and deciding if you want to pursue the sport in high school. Some students don't even get the chance.
    High school cutting I understand though. At the high school level it’s competitive. Our girls volleyball team has won states because they are competitive and they cut. I also understand that junior varsity teams exist for a reason. Sure, varsity teams should be competitive and spots limited, but maybe a JV team shouldn't.
    Practicing the last two weeks with a team comprised of twenty-one has already opened my eyes to the benefits and issues a bigger than normal team can cause. The benefits are that we can easily substitute people in when others are getting tired and wipe the floor with the slower, smaller teams. The issues are that practices aren't as efficient. With so many people, it's hard to coordinate. Playing time is also limited. My basketball coach typically takes eight players for varsity leaving thirteen to vie for playing time on JV. In past years, JV playing time was distributed evenly, so that leaves little playing time for one person.
    I think what it comes down to is that sometimes cutting is a necessary evil. At the high school level, most teams are making cuts and it makes things better for everyone in the long run. Practicing and then sitting the bench seems counterproductive. What I don't agree with is junior high cutting. You're not allowed to cut in elementary school and I think the same policy should be extended to junior high. Though I'm grateful that my basketball team has decided against cuts, I can see their appeal.

- Contributing Writer -

Mackenzie Hill


    “It’s my body, and it should be my choice, and the fact that it is not my choice is absolutely disgusting.” Jennifer Lawrence wasn’t referencing tattoos, but the meaning of her quote still stands strong and sure. Tattoos, along with any alteration that affects your body, is your choice and the fact that it’s in the hands of your parents until you’re eighteen doesn’t seem right.
     I understand there’s age restrictions on a lot of things. You can’t drive until you’re sixteen and drinking alcohol is reserved for when you turn twenty-one. Age caps exist, but driving and drinking are two activities that could affect someone else. If you ignore the age restrictions for these situations, an innocent person could get hurt or die. Tattoos aren't dangerous to anyone else. They're on your body and they're your responsibility.
    Most people will argue teenagers have to wait to get tattoos because they will pick stupid, meaningless ones. I don't think that's the case. Most teenagers I know pick meaningful tattoos. Either to memorialize a loved one that's passed or an important message that helped them through a tough time. If teenagers are going to get tattoos they'll regret later in life, let them. People can only grow and mature when given the space and responsibility to do so. Bad tattoos are mistakes people can live with. Even adults get tattoos they later regret. Tattoos aren't detrimental to a teen's future.
   Tattoos are also a form of expression. Restricting teens from getting tattoos is directly snuffing out their creativity. Teens are allowed to dress how they like and dye their hair how they please, so why should tattoos be any different?
    What it all comes down to is your right to do what you please with your body. Whether you want one to commemorate something or express your individuality, it's your choice because it's your body. Anything else is just unacceptable.


     To be able to get a tattoo by yourself  — without a parent’s or legal guardian’s consent — you have to be eighteen years of age. Many people know that tattoos can be harmful but disregard the effects and consequences. Tattoos can possibly cause bleeding or a break in the skin which can get infected. These infections can lead to deformity, scarring, illness, and at the extreme, death. 
     Tattoos are expensive. They can cost $100 to $300 per hour in most tattoo parlors, depending on the size. The addition of multiple colors  adds to the price, pain, and time. It is unlikely that a parent would want to pay for their child to get ink engraved in their skin and then make sure the child keeps it clean and healthy. For example, after getting a tattoo, you should not go swimming for three weeks. This is because the skin is not as strong as it was before, so it is more likely to get infected with chlorine and salt water.
     After getting a tattoo, you cannot donate blood for up to twelve months depending on its size; but if something goes wrong with your tattoo, you may not be able to donate blood ever. This may  not affect children who cannot donate blood until they are sixteen, with parental approval; but later in life, if they want to donate blood but cannot, they will at least be disappointed not to be able to help someone in need.
     People under eighteen should not be able to get a tattoo without a parent’s or guardian’s consent because their brain and body are underdeveloped. The human being is fully developed at approximately age twenty-five. When the brain is still developing, people act more on impulse and do not realize that their actions will affect them for the rest of their lives. The popular saying, “If it doesn’t matter in five years, it doesn’t matter,” does NOT include getting tattoos. They are permanent. Yes, you can get them surgically removed, but that is known for being more painful and more expensive. The tattoo can and will affect the body. It changes over time until the person is fully grown; then it will change again in old age.

- Contributing Writers -

Mackenzie Hill & Lily Bulman 



          Daylight Savings Time has just passed and I'm sure many are thankful for the hour of sleep that we all gained. Though many are thankful, there are still people who believe that DST is unneeded and a waste of time, literally. The debate is heated on both sides and many would be surprised how strongly people feel towards the topic. If you don't know much about what DST actually is, it was introduced to the United States in 1918. It was an effort made to help save the fuel and gas used to heat the soldiers lamps and homes during wartime. Currently, 1.5 Billion people in 70 different countries recognize DST throughput the world. A poll was taken in 2018 in the United States on DST and 33% said that DST was worth the effort, 48% of people said it was not, and 19% of people were indifferent.
    The leading argument for keeping Daylight Savings Time is that it is very helpful for the economy. When we gain an hour of daylight in the spring, it means more time for people to be active. This allows more time for people to go shopping after work, which spikes sales and in turn means that people spend more on gas and transportation. This also helps businesses because more people are out and about and are more likely to stop in. 
    DST is not only helpful to the economy but it also benefits the health of people. If it is lighter for longer outside people are more likely to go outside and be active. Hendrik Wolff, PhD, an Economics professor at Simon Fraser University stated, “People engaged in more outdoor recreation and less indoor-TV watching… An additional 3 percent of people engaged in outdoor behaviors who otherwise would have stayed indoors.” in regards to DST. 
    Safety is also a big factor when it comes to daylight savings time. The longer the hours of sunlight, the less car accidents happen. This lowers the risk of driving, the amount of accidents that happen, and the number of pedestrians that get hit by moving vehicles. Not only does the amount of car accidents drop, it lowers the crime rate as well. The prolonged hours of sunlight make it safer for people to walk their dogs, for children to play outside, for joggers to get out and exercise.  Economists Jennifer Doleac, PhD, and Nicholas Sanders, PhD, found in a study that, “robberies drop about 7% overall, and 27% in the evening hours after the spring time change.” Daylight Savings Time is an important part of the routine that each and everyone of us go through year to year and under no circumstances should it be eliminated from the ways of life.


        Homework has been used as a method of teaching in all levels of education for as long as education has existed. It is a way of applying what you learned during the school day to worksheets and papers that need completed on your own, without the help of a teacher. It proves that you are actually learning in class and not just floating through the day without retaining any information. Homework is a very helpful and effective way of learning to strengthen your brain’s mental capacity.
       There has recently been arguments that have surfaced about homework being harmful to the young mind. If anything, homework improves the student's ability to retain information and actually learn the information being taught throughout the school day. Homework improves student achievement. It ameliorates student's grades, the ability to pay attention in class, test scores, and even improves the chances of the student attending college. Homework teaches students responsibility and gives them a sense of work ethic. A study was conducted and published in the High School Journal about how students that did homework, compared to students who did not do homework, scored up to 40 points better on their SAT’s. This research just helps to prove the point that homework not only helps students in everyday comprehension, but it also gives students the opportunity to score better on standardized tests.
          There is the old saying that, “practice makes perfect”; this quotes just further proves the fact that homework is a crucial part in the educational system. It is proven that students only retain 50% of the information that is taught in class; homework gives them the chance to truly learn and retain the information being taught. Homework teaches kids the fundamentals of learning and applying what they learned to something they are required to do on their own. This is a skill they need and will utilize for the rest of their lives.

Homework, while being viewed by many as a useful tool, is actually harmful to students, causing them unhealthy amounts of stress. A poll done in California showed that almost 50% of students said that homework was the largest source of stress in their lives. This should not be the case. The immense load of homework given to students leads to poor sleeping habits, headaches,and even anxiety. In addition, homework can be particularly difficult for students from low-income families. These students may not have the proper supplies provided for them to complete their assignments. Furthermore, in addition to these students not having the opportunity to complete their work, this can also be a source of embarrassment for these low-income students when students are expected to turn in work in the presence of their peers.
Yet another disadvantage to homework is how excessive workloads leads to cheating because this provides an easy out for stressed out students. Furthermore, 90% of middle school students admit to cheating on homework. With this being said, it is my strong belief that homework is not the positive learning tool it is intended  to be, rather it is instead a source for students to form negative learning habits. This idea goes further than middle and high school; 43% of PARENTS admit to completing their child's assignments for them. In conclusion, it should be made clear that the unfavorable effects of homework far outweigh the sparse learning advantages. 

All statistics are provided by the American Educational Research Association. ​

Born Gay?

Born gay? It is a popular belief that no such thing exists. Looking from a purely scientific standpoint, countless studies continue to prove there is no ‘gay gene’ and furthermore, there is no medical or DNA test that can be done to determine this assumption. Rather, sexual preference is a self-determined choice. In addition, there are a number of former homosexuals that in the past claimed to be born gay, however, they are currently with the opposite sex. There have been differences found between the homosexual and heterosexual brain; these differences, nevertheless, are acquired throughout their lives and experiences. This only proves the point that a person cannot be born gay rather, it is a personal choice. 
To continue, Camille Paglia, a well-known lesbian activist, stated,“No one is born gay. The idea is ridiculous. Homosexuality is an adaptation, not an inborn trait.” When Kamala Widdowson, a Maplewood High School student,  was asked whether or not she believed a person could be born gay, she simply stated, “No, being gay is a lifestyle choice.” In addition, Kersen Nageotte responded, “No, I don't think anyone is born gay or straight; I feel like it’s just something that happens throughout their life.” Hunter Briggs, who is an openly bisexual student here at Maplewood, commented that she does not believe people are born gay rather that, “all people are born bisexual and throughout their lives, they choose a preference.”  
In conclusion, it appears to be a popular opinion within the Woodshed that people are not born gay.  Instead it is a personal decision, however, science is also present to support this complex and controversial topic.

    The debate about being ‘born gay’ is becoming more and more prevalent in today's world. They LGBTQ+ Community is growing and is welcoming everyone with open arms. Being gay or transgender or anything  other than what society considered the ‘norm’ was taboo; but within the last few years, it is not only accepted but supported by communities and families across the world. Even religions that once considered homosexuality to be a ‘sin’ and ‘evil’ are now changing their opinions on the matter. Despite the LGBTQ+ community making tremendous strides toward being embraced, there is still the argument on whether people are born gay or they change their sexual preference throughout their lifetime.
       With the acceptance of homosexuality and transgender people in religion, this has brought new evidence to the table on the debate of being born with homosexual tendencies.  Jesuit Priest, James Martin, has come forward with his thoughts and opinions that have been influenced by religion. He states that God is the creator of all things and made everyone perfect in His image. “"Yes. Science and psychology shows that, and most people are finally coming to see that this — for mysterious reasons — is the way they are made. That's something that's held by almost every reputable psychologist and biologist. And the 'LGBT' people I speak to have always felt that way. Part of it is accepting oneself and accepting this is the way God made you." This solidifies the point that was once a huge topic of controversy. For centuries, homosexuality has been shunned and hidden away within religious communities and churches, but now it is being welcomed and accepted.
       The scientific side of it is a whole different story. Recent evidence states that genes play a strong role in sexual orientation. The American Psychiatric Association states genetic and hormonal factors mix with environmental elements to determine an individual's sexuality. “The preponderance of opinion within the scientific community is that there is a strong biological component to sexual orientation and that genetic, hormonal and environmental factors interact to influence a person's orientation.” This is a direct quote from Saul Levin, MD, MPA, APA, and CEO of the American Psychiatric Association.
     Whether you believe sexual orientation is developed through life or decided at birth, there is undeniable evidence supporting that sexual orientation is part of you when you are born. Those sexual thoughts and feelings about whatever gender a person decides may be shoved deep down and not discovered until puberty or maybe even later than that; but it is almost certain that these feelings have been a part of your genetics since the day you were born. Just know, that whatever sexual preferences you have, never be ashamed to talk about it and live your life without fear of criticism for being who you are. If you or someone you know is struggling with bullying or sexual discrimination, there are countless groups that will welcome you or a friend in need with open arms. Below is the information for a LGBT help center. They offer an online peer support group and they have a youth hotline that is available 24 hours a day. You are not alone!


Service Dog

Use of K9's in Police and Military 

K9’s have been active members of the police force for over a 100 hundred years. There has been much controversy concerning the use of these dogs in the past five years, particularly due to their aggressive nature. Because of this aggressive behavior, dogs are able to assist in attacks that require this behavior. While aggression is in some cases a problem, it is also necessary in training and, furthermore, in their jobs. In addition, their ability, along with great service they provide, is too important to be overlooked. Dogs' noses are more than 50 times more sensitive than the human nose. Dogs are capable of smelling and singling out individual scents. For example, if a human were to smell beef soup, they would simply smell beef soup but a dog would smell meat, potatoes, carrots, salt, pepper, etc. This gives dogs the unique ability to decipher smells, giving dogs the ability to track and locate very specific scents. Dogs can be trained to effectively detect explosives, narcotics, and even flash drives. 
I, personally, have first-hand experience in regards to police dogs. I have a strong understanding of how police dogs are trained and their capabilities. Also, having personally handled working police dogs, I am more than fully aware of their genuine abilities. There is no doubt in my mind that police dogs effectively complete a job that would otherwise go unfinished. Police dogs have saved millions of lives and it would be foolish to remove them from service. Furthermore, contrary to common belief, police dogs are not all German Dhepherds or Belgian Malinois;  smaller non aggressive dogs are also used which propose no threat to society. These dogs include pointers (all breeds), labs, golden retrievers, and even great danes. All in all, dogs within the police force serve a honorable and necessary duty and should by no means be removed from the workforce. 

-Featured Woodshed Writer-
Alma Richardson

      With the increase in dogs being used within the police force and military, the risks continue to get higher with safety concerns. When K9’s are trained for the police force or military, the training styles are nothing short of animal abuse. The training required for dogs to become tools in the police force or military goes against all animal rights beliefs. Dogs, unlike humans, don't know what they're getting into when they are taken overseas to detect bombs or when they are in the front lines in battle. The brave soldiers who defend our country have made the courageous decision to fight for our freedom and they knew what they were signing up for and the risks that came with that choice. But the dogs that are bred into and chosen for these tasks have no say and ultimately no idea what they're even getting sent into. Military dogs are often the first to be killed in battle because their job is to go ahead of the troops and sniff out bombs or other detrimental things. Their lives are not valued as much as human lives, so they are thrown into a situation not knowing the consequences that are likely to happen. This is extremely unfair to all of the unknowing dogs involved. 
     The training that the dogs are put through prepares them to withstand harm from the criminals or weapons that they will face when they are put to work. Not only are the dogs being hurt mentally and physically through training, they have the liability, after training, to hurt civilians that they are around in the workforce. Because of the barbaric training styles, these once tranquil dogs are filled with so much anger. This is a major liability for everyone involved with the dogs. These dogs are used as weapons against criminals and enemies of war, how could they not be dangerous around the common person? They have the chance to seriously injure someone and in major cases, could cause death. It is pointed out by dogsbite.org that German Shepards are the second most naturally aggressive dogs. Is it just a coincidence that German Shepards are the number one most used dog in combat and in the police field. These terrorizing creatures are already aggressive and their training brainwashes them to become more and more belligerent. So why would civilians want these dogs in their community?  Dogs should not be used in police forces or within the military because they become too aggressive and are an obvious risk to society. 

-Featured Woodshed Writer-
Sophie Varndell