Tuesday, May 31, 2005

On Balance, Mandates, and Parents' Wishes

A CRC spokeman had this letter in the Washington Times this morning:
Halfway to a reasonable sex-ed policy

Regarding "County schools ditch sex-ed class" (Metropolitan, May 24), Citizens for a Responsible Curriculum approves the resolutions adopted by the Montgomery County Board of Education. However, we wonder why, despite hundreds of letters, 4,000 petition signatures against the curriculum, dozens of statements and detailed objections by medical experts, it took a federal lawsuit to convince the board to do the right thing.

At the board meeting May 23, Superintendent Jerry D. Weast indicated that the whole nation and other superintendents are watching how Montgomery County handles this situation. We would add that parents on both sides of this issue are watching as well. The decisions made here will be felt across the country. Considering this national spotlight, the board should keep in mind that respecting parents' wishes in this highly sensitive area is no longer an option but a mandate.

If solutions are what we're all looking for, then we're halfway there. Before the curriculum can be rewritten, a balanced citizen advisory committee that is committed to respecting the values of all parents and citizens in this community and is open to a range of professional advice on this controversial issue needs to be in place. This is vital. The tightly controlled nature of this committee in the past was vastly responsible for the production of a one-sided curriculum that was more indoctrination than education.

Citizens for a Responsible Curriculum
Montgomery Village
Halfway to a reasonable sex-ed policy

Do you know what she means, when she says, the board should keep in mind that respecting parents' wishes in this highly sensitive area is no longer an option but a mandate?

Think about that. Montgomery County education can go several ways that I can imagine:
  • Schools can teach the facts as they are understood by scientists and experts
  • Schools can teach all sides of all controversial issues
  • Schools can teach what the majority of parents believe to be the facts
  • Schools can teach what a loud minority, backed by out-of-town lawyers on a mission, believe

To me, the first option is the only reasonable one. Parents don't vote on material that's presented in classrooms, fer cryin' out loud! Can't you just imagine, if math teachers taught the method for factoring polynomials that got the most votes from parents? Oh, these people think that sex is "obvious," you just do what's natural (wait, I mean, you don't do what's natural) (oh, never mind), and the only qualification you need is to be a parent.

Because when you're a parent you know everything.

Sorry. The problem is that none of us know very much about things like sexual orientation. Since only a small percentage of the population turns out to be gay, and since the whole subject has been such a taboo for so many years, the public's knowledge, what you could call the "folk science" of sexual orientation, is very weak. Parents are totally unqualified to teach their kids any facts about homosexuality and other variations.

So it's a dumb idea to say that the school board needs to teach what "parents" want taught.

That's the first thing.

The second thing is: the CRC does not, remotely, represent "parents" in Montgomery County. Their "mandate" that this writer talks about is a legal one. They baffled a judge into thinking that certain things were going to be taught, which were never part of the curriculum. So instead of simply removing some questionable materials, the judge shut down the whole program. Baby and bathwater thing. Some teachers' background resources talked about different religions, not always admiringly, and once somebody noticed that, they could have been taken off the list. But no-o-o-o. Instead, the whole thing was halted.

"Parents" in Montgomery County want their kids to be exposed to facts, not some kind of ignorant bigotry. Some of their kids are going to grow up gay, all of them are going to know someone gay, and we aren't a county of haters. We want our kids to understand what's going on, even if we didn't learn it when we were in school.

This letter-writer blames the "tightly controlled nature of this committee" for, uh, for what? A one-sided curriculum? Listen, does it sound right to you, that the facts should be balanced with bigotry? Is that balance? Naw, she's complaining because they hope to get even more people on the next citizens committee.

And as far as being tightly controlled -- look at this. The previous committee had:
  • Ms. Henrietta Brown, Daughters of the American Revolution
  • Dr. Kimberly Y. Campbell, the Peoples Community Baptist Church
  • Dr. Michael Caruso, Archdiocese of Washington
  • Ms. Ethel Jerlean Eader, Parents Against X-rated and R-rated Books
  • Ms. Jackie Rice, Parents and Friends of Ex-Gays and Gays (PFOX)
  • Ms. Rosa Urquart, Maryland Coalition Against Pornography
  • Ms. Michelle Turner, Member-at-large (now President of CRC)

--how one-sided could that be?

And keep in mind, people, if a bunch of PFOX and CRC members get on the next committee, and they try to introduce all their church-generated junk about how sick gay people are, how dirty and immoral, well, what's good for the goose ...


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