updated 11/5/2004 8:45:37 AM ET 2004-11-05T13:45:37

A State Board of Education member called on textbook publishers to change the wording in health books being considered for use in Texas schools to clearly state that marriage is between a man and a woman.

Terri Leo said certain books attempt to nullify a Texas law banning the recognition of same-sex civil unions by using “asexual stealth phrases” such as “individuals who marry” instead of husbands and wives.

“I want the reader, the child to know that marriage is between a man and a woman,” Leo, R-Spring, said in a written statement released during a board meeting Wednesday.

The 15-member board is scheduled to vote Friday on whether to approve the books for middle- and high schools. The decision could affect dozens of states because books sold in Texas, the nation’s second-largest textbook buyer, often are marketed elsewhere.

Board member Mary Helen Berlanga, D-Corpus Christi, said one of the textbooks showed a picture of a mother and a father and a young girl and her brother.

“We cannot start censoring books because we do not like the terminology,” Berlanga said. “I don’t see two males or two females holding hands.”

The board can vote only to reject books based on factual errors or failure to follow state curriculum as mandated by the state.

A spokesman for one of the publishers, Holt, Rinehart and Winston, said Holt will come up with something it believes is appropriate and bring it to the board Friday.

Randall Ellis, the executive director of the Lesbian/Gay Rights Lobby of Texas, said Leo was asserting the religious right agenda into students’ textbooks.

“My bottom line opinion is it’s irresponsible,” Ellis said. “There comes a time when you need to put your own agenda aside and do what’s best for youth.”

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