Tuesday, February 15, 2005

Public schools are no place for theological debates

The Washington Examiner is a new, give-away newspaper in the DC
area. In a Feb. 7 editorial, the Examiner said some rather foolish
things about Montgomery County. David Fishback sent the Examiner a
response, which the paper published on Feb. 14.

Here is the link (which includes a number of other letters to the Examiner.)

Here is the text of what was published:
From: David Fishback, chair, Montgomery County Board of Education's
Citizens Advisory Committee on Family Life and Human Development

Re: "Even Kinsey fans value different ideas" editorial, Feb. 7.

Welcome to Washington. It's good to have another newspaper in the
area. But before characterizing the actions of local governments,
it's essential The Examiner check the facts - not simply rely on
press reports or Internet blogs.

Unfortunately, the editorial does not meet this standard when it
states that when the Montgomery County School Board decided "to add a
new pilot program on sexual identity," it concluded that "a how-to
video and discussion of fruit-flavored condoms published by gay
activist groups was OK."

This appears to refer to a condom demonstration video prepared by
school staff for use in 10th-grade health classes at the request of
the board and health ed teachers who concluded that lack of
information on correct condom use was leading to unwanted pregnancies
and sexually transmitted infections.

The video, which repeatedly stresses that abstinence is the only sure
way to avoid pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections, makes no
mention whatsoever of "fruit-flavored condoms." A commercially
produced video on birth control (which also stressed the risks
involved in sexual activity) that did briefly mention such condoms
has not been approved.

The condom video that was approved is separate from the proposed
health curriculum revisions, which mention some basic facts on sexual
orientation for the first time. Neither video was "published by gay
activist groups."

The further suggestion that the absence of "ex-gay" materials in the
health curriculum was a bad idea also misses the mark. The proposed
revisions simply present the conclusions of every mainstream American
medical and mental health professional association that homosexuality
is not an illness - and most experts do not believe it is a choice.

Since an underlying premise of "ex-gay" advocacy groups is that
homosexuality is a disease that can and should be "cured" - a
proposition mainstream science does not accept - it would be improper
to present it in MCPS's fact-based health curriculum.

It would be horrific and dishonest to tell students who may be gay
that they are diseased. Yet insertion of "ex-gay" materials in the
curriculum would do just that.

Another underlying premise of "ex-gay" groups is that all homosexual
activity is sinful, even among committed adult couples. Some
religious denominations accept this view; others vigorously reject
it. But such theological debates have no place in a public school
health curriculum.


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