Sunday, February 13, 2005

There is no downside to tolerance

Compared with the health curricula of other area educational jurisdictions, there is nothing that's radical about the new MCPS health curriculum. The reason it even exists, is because teachers complained about problems with the old curriculum—such as the gag rule that disallowed them from in any way discussing homosexuality with students, unless a student asked a direct question. And, with the old curriculum, if a student did ask a question, the teacher could only answer in a "perfunctory manner."

The new curriculum wisely addresses that problem. Students will be taught what homosexuality is, and that being gay does not make anyone sick or a bad person. They will not be taught that they should like or dislike gay people—only to accept that they do exist in our society.

That's not asking a whole lot. MCPS will not be teaching students what their religious beliefs should be—on any topic, including sexuality. But they should be taught that regardless of individual religious beliefs, all students deserve to be respected and should be allowed a basic amount of dignity.

From the new curriculum:
2. Revision of the Grade 8 and 10 Health Education Curricula to Include
Information on Sexual Variation.

The Board's decision to have the staff of MCPS develop "revisions to
the health education curriculum in Grades 8 and 10 to include information
about sexual variation" (see Discussion/Action Item 8.0 from the Board's
November 12, 2002, meeting, at p. 8) was also in response to a
recommendation from the Committee, which was supported by the Staff.
This step was deemed important because, in part, the then-extant
policies mandated that issues regarding homosexuality could not be
discussed, except in response to specific questions by students, and
then only in a perfunctory manner. In making this recommendation, the
Committee recognized "the concept of sexual orientation as an essential
human quality; [stated its belief] that individuals have the right to
accept, acknowledge, and live in accordance with their sexual orientation,
be they heterosexual, bisexual, gay, or lesbian;" and noted that its
recommendation was "in harmony with recommendations for
comprehensive sexuality education" endorsed by the Surgeon General of
the United States in 2001 and by "a coalition of 120 national organizations
including the American Medical Association, the National Medical
Association, the American School Health Association, [and] the American
Public Health Association." Id. at pp. 5-6.

The curriculum is simply asking students who are not gay, to accept the fact that some people are. There can't be anything wrong with that—there is no downside to tolerance.


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