Md. school board OKs sex-ed cour­ses

The Washington Times Weekly - - National - By Arlo Wag­ner

Mont­gomeryCounty,Md.’ss­chool board on Jan. 9 unan­i­mously ap­proved a re­vised sex-ed­u­ca­tion cur­ricu­lum that teaches mid­dle- and high-school stu­dents about ho­mo­sex­u­al­ity and con­dom use, de­spite op­po­si­tion again from par­ents.

“This isn’t about ho­mo­sex­u­al­ity,” said­par­en­tSteinaRuben.“It’sabout there be­ing no em­pha­sis on fam­ily val­ues.”

Fif­teen per­sons tes­ti­fied against the cur­ricu­lum, re­vised from the 2004 ver­sion that cre­ated a fierce pub­lic de­bate then a law­suit that stopped­schoolof­fi­cials­from­start­ing the classes.

Op­po­nents were un­de­cided on whetherthey­would­filean­oth­er­suit.

“I was ab­so­lutely hop­ing we wouldn’t be fac­ing this again,” said Michelle Turner, a mem­ber of the par­ent group Cit­i­zens for a Re­spon­si­ble Cur­ricu­lum, which filed the suitin2005.TheFriend­sofEx-Gays and Gays also par­tic­i­pated in the suit, which re­quired the board to can­cel the classes or re-write the cur­ricu­lum.

“Once again, we are look­ing at a cur­ricu­lum that seeks to in­tro­duce young chil­dren to acts and life­styles that are proven med­i­cally to be haz­ardous to one’s health, both phys­i­cally and emo­tion­ally,” Mrs. Turner tes­ti­fied.

Mrs. Turner said she will meet with county of­fi­cials to re­view the cur­ricu­lum,then­with­at­tor­neysand other or­ga­ni­za­tions be­fore de­cid­ing whether to take fur­ther ac­tion.

Aschool­board­mem­berde­fended there­vised­cur­ricu­lum,sayin­git­was thor­ough­lyre­searchedan­dreviewed.

“I be­lieve it is an ap­pro­pri­ate and cor­rect cur­ricu­lum,” said Sharon O. Cox. “That it will meet any court chal­lenges.”

The new cur­ricu­lum was pre­pared by the 15 mem­bers of the Cit- izens Ad­vi­sory Com­mit­tee dur­ing four­month­sof­con­sul­ta­tion­last­sum­mer with four physi­cians from the Mary­land Chap­ter of the Amer­i­can Academy of Pe­di­atrics.

“We spent hours go­ing through ev­ery rec­om­men­da­tion,” said Dr. Carol Plot­sky, chair­man of the Cit­i­zens Ad­vi­sory Com­mit­tee. “For a num­bero­fyears,thishas­beeninthe mak­ing. This cur­ricu­lum needs to move for­ward.”

She also said 270 physi­cians signed a pe­ti­tion for the les­son plan to in­clude more data about con­doms and vagi­nal in­ter­course. But that in­for­ma­tion was not in­cluded.

Three county mid­dle schools and high schools now will be se­lected to of­fer the new course in their healthde­vel­op­ment classes. Only stu­dents with writ­ten parental ap­proval will take the course.

Thethree­new­lesson­sare:At­wopart, 90-minute les­son for eighth­grader­son“Re­spect­forDif­fer­ences in­Hu­manSex­u­al­ity”;atwo-part,90minute seg­ment on the les­son for 10th-graders, and a one-part, 45minute les­son on con­dom use, in­clud­ing a demon­stra­tion video, for 10th-graders.

Ifthe­cours­esare­suc­cess­fulinthe six schools this spring, they will be in­cluded in the health de­vel­op­ment classes of all 38 mid­dle and 25 pub­lic high schools for the 2007-2008 school year.

Board mem­ber Stephen Abrams ap­proved the new cur­ricu­lum that de­scribes ho­mo­sex­ual ori­gins and sex­ual re­la­tions, say­ing, “It’s not the par­ents’ re­spon­si­bil­ity alone.”

Mrs. Turner ve­he­mently dis­agreed.

“It is the par­ents’ re­spon­si­bil­ity,” she said.

The Rev. J. Grace Har­ley called the course a “sex ed­u­ca­tion ex­per­i­ment” with life-al­ter­ing con­se­quences, adding “science has proven that the teenage brain is not fully de­vel­oped.”

Matthew Mar­guia, a mem­ber of Fam­ily Life and Hu­man De­vel­op­ment group, said he is a ho­mo­sex­ual but did not choose his sex­ual ori­en­ta­tion.

“Chil­dren of same-sex cou­ples can­do­jus­taswellaschil­drenofhetero­sex­ual cou­ples, and chil­dren of gay or les­bian cou­ples are no more likely to be gay than chil­dren of straight cou­ples,” he said.

Dr. Ruth M. Ja­cobs held a foot­ball and a U.S. flag as she called for the cur­ricu­lum to avoid po­lit­i­cal and re­li­gious po­si­tions.

“We must re­mem­ber this is a health class, not a po­lit­i­cal agenda,” she said. “Don’t kick the chil­dren around like a re­li­gious po­lit­i­cal foot­ball.”

Rose­Marie Briggs, ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor of Fam­ily Leader Net­work, said: “We are dis­ap­pointed that the cur­ricu­lum­fail­stoteachthe­p­os­i­tive con­se­quences of mar­riage.”

Mary F. Calvert / The Wash­ing­ton Times

Rose­Marie Briggs (left), ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor of the Fam­ily Leader Net­work, and Dr. Ruth M. Ja­cobs spoke to re­porters about their con­cerns over pro­posed sex ed­u­ca­tion cur­ricu­lum in Mont­gomery County, Md. Be­hind them are pro­test­ers from Cit­i­zens for a Re­spon­si­ble Cur­ricu­lum.

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