Monday, May 30, 2005

Parents and Community Groups -- and "Ex-Gays"

It has been interesting learning a little about the press. Sometimes it seems like they all get the same idea for a story at the same time. For the last couple of weeks, it's been "What do the kids think?" This morning The Examiner published that story, and inevitably it favored our perspective.


Well, yes. Do you remember The Gazette's coverage of the Great Cucumber Video story, when the condom video played in the health classes at the pilot schools? The headline could have been "Students Say Ho Hum." Because, see, high-school kids -- and yes, middle schools kids -- talk about sex all the time. They've heard everything, including a whole lot of stuff that isn't accurate. So when you go into their classroom and tell them about it, for most of them the most important part is telling them what parts that they heard that are not correct. They're not shocked to learn what a condom is, but they might be surprised to learn that you shouldn't open the package with your teeth. Kids favor our side because they want knowledge, they need knowledge and they know that.

As an aside, my son said that in his History class they saw a movie about a soldier who had had his arms blown off in war. When the movie finished, a girl in the class said, "Why was he so upset? They're just going to grow back!" That high-school student actually thought that arms grow back. At the Einstein health teachers' presentation, we were told that one of the most important things they do is to tell students what parts of their bodies are called. And not just the private parts, either. Elbows, molars, stuff like that.

So kids have heard everything about sex, but you could say the foundation is weak. They've heard everything from their friends, but they need some educatin' to get it right.

The Examiner inteviewed some kids and found that they were dismayed that the changes to the curriculum were blocked. They don't see the big deal.

But look, there's a problem. The Post did it this week, too. The Examiner summarizes for the Rip Van Winkles who are just hearing about this:
Two parents groups filed a lawsuit back in April, saying the school system didn't take into account all viewpoints when they developed the new educational materials, which are part of the 8th- and 10th- grade health classes. Particularly, they felt the new curriculum ignored the views of ex-gays. In addition, they said a 10-minute video featuring a how-to with a condom and a cucumber glamorized sex.
Amid the controversy, the school board passed a resolution on May 23 that would scrap the proposed changes and go back to the drawing board... Sex ed outcry has kids shaking heads

Now, I guess this is our job at, to educate the public. Let me point out what's wrong here, and what was wrong this week at The Post.

There were not "two parents groups." Or as The Post put it, "two community groups." As far as we can tell, the CRC began as a community group, though it is very shy on parents, at least parents of MCPS students, those who would be affected by the curriculum. We'll give them that, they're from here mostly, they have their point of view, they are actually responding to the curriculum -- they have a dog in this fight, as the saying goes.

But the co-signer on the lawsuit was PFOX, which is not a parents group, and not a community group. PFOX must have a member in Montgomery County, they did find somebody who qualified to be on the citizens advisory committee, so there is at least one member here (that is not to say that there is even one "ex-gay" in this county).

PFOX is not a local group, it is a political creation of the religious right, a clever invention designed to confuse the issues. PFOX, the Parents and Friends of Ex-Gays and Gays, claims to represent people who "used to be" gay. I once heard Peter Sprigg of the Family Research Council say that there were "tens of thousands" of these ex-gay people out there. PFOX has never actually produced one for public scrutiny, and I strongly doubt that anybody actually matches the job description, when you get down to it. But -- how ya gonna prove him wrong? (PS While checking some facts, I just came across a quote by the leader of Exodus, another Christian ex-gay organization, claiming that "hundreds of thousands" of people undergone this transformation. Um, why won't they show us one?)

You can see that were would be, shall we say, "implications" if tens (hundreds) of thousands of gay people were able to just stop being gay. It would mean that sexual orientation is a choice. That means that anyone who is gay has chosen to be that way, in other words, according to these characters, they have chosen to be sinners. They have chosen the devil's ways. And so they get whatever's coming to them, whether that's being beaten up on the schoolyard, discriminated against in the workplace, whatever. They don't need to be taken seriously and they don't need to be treated kindly.

It is bizarre, but in our particular situation, the MCPS sex-ed curriculum, it appears that the PFOX people are actually arguing that the public schools should list "ex-gay" as a kind of sexual orientation. It doesn't make sense, of course. If you're "really gay" but practice heterosexuality, maybe you marry and have children, then ... listen, you're still "really gay." It's called "being in the closet." If you "used to be gay" but now you're not even attracted to people of your own sex, then you're straight. The ordinary person would say you weren't gay to start with. Regardless, what you were is not what you are, and there doesn't need to be a special category for you -- maybe "person with a past." If you're bisexual and choose not to act on your homosexual impulses, your sexual orientation is still bisexual. There's no special sexual-orientation category for people who pretend to be something they're not.

So the goofy guys at the Family Research Council made up this concept, and started this organization. It was a clever idea, you'll never go wrong capitalizing on people's ignorance. Just because Joe and Jane America never heard of an "ex-gay" person, well, what do they know? They're just proud that people can change. They're willing to believe it, without suspecting that the whole idea is made up.

And, while we're discussing whether it was "parents groups" who fought the curriculum, let's not forget Liberty Counsel. These out-of-town lawyers go around the country filing lawsuits to challenge the separation of church and state, They think America should be a Christian country, they think the Founding Fathers intended that, and they go everywhere to file these suits, so that the government can impose evangelical morality on its "flocks." If CRC had used their own J. Cheever Loophole to press the issue, the outcome would have been quite different.

Oh, and one more thing -- ya gotta love this part of The Examiner's story:
...Steve Fisher, spokesman for Citizens for Responsible Curriculum, said students' education should rest with parents, not teenagers. "We encourage their input, but when it comes down to it, the parents should have the final decision," he said.

"We're not quite ready to turn our kids over and let them be the final deciders and arbitrators." Fisher said his group hopes for a new curriculum that includes all viewpoints, but they are happy for now with the current classroom lessons, which include a discussion on abstinence.

Steve, you don't even have kids in the public schools -- what's this "we" stuff?


Blogger Kay2898 said...

Let's see Steve Fisher, ExRecall spokesperson has no children in MCPS. John Garza, VP for ExRecall and Legal for ExRecall has no children in MCPS. Michelle Turner, President of Exrecall has not allowed any of her children to take the health curriculum/sex education. Now that would be even under the old that ExRecall is now purporting to be great and MCPS should go back to it instead of adding new.

Steve Fisher on more than on occasion in public arenas has announced that what MCPS had in old health curriculum was just fine and they should continue to offer that.

But why would anyone say that given they have no children that have taken even the old much less the chance to take anything new??????????

Kay R

May 30, 2005 3:21 PM  

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