Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Sometimes Everything Is Not Enough

This is just too good for words. CRC and PFOX sued the school district. They won a temporary restraining order, and then the district kicked in a little more, the end of the school year. Oh, and the video, which wasn't mentioned in the judge's opinion. And then a little more, the end of the calendar year.

And then everything, the district gave it up. Surrendered. Cancelled the whole curriculum. Dismissed the citizens committee. Promised never to use the objectionable teachers' resources again. Said they were going to start over from scratch.

Man, you can hear the champagne corks a-poppin', can't you? Uh, can't you?

Mmm, no, you can't. Everything in the world still isn't enough. Here's the latest press release from the Ex-Recall and Ex-Gays:
May 24, 2005 Contact:
John Garza 301 340-8200
(CRC attorney)
Steve Fisher 301 385-6766
(CRC spokesman)
Regina Griggs 703 360-2225
(PFOX executive director)

Montgomery County, MD – Two parent groups suing the Montgomery County Board of Education over a new, controversial sex ed program voiced concern over the board's unilateral action in tossing out the entire program and voting to start from scratch. The board voted 7-1 Tuesday night to discard the new curriculum, along with its nationally ridiculed "cucumber video," as well as terminate the Citizens Advisory Committee which came up with the curriculum.

"While the board is obviously feeling the heat from parents who learned about the offensive tone of the curriculum from our lawsuit, we feel it is trying to do an end run around the suit, which Judge Williams said we were likely to succeed in winning. In fact, in its public statements, the board claims absolute authority over the curriculum. Nowhere does it state a willingness to come together with us parents to make sure the curriculum meets community standards," said Michelle Turner, president of CRC. She added that CRC includes several parents willing to serve on the new CAC.

Judge Alexander Williams, Jr. of the U.S. District Court granted the two groups' request for a temporary restraining order regarding the implementation of the curriculum.

He agreed with CRC and Parents and Friends of Ex-Gays and Gays that it discriminated against certain religious faiths and unconstitutionally excluded ex-gay material in an attempt to present only a pro-homosexual viewpoint. He granted the stay in part because of "the likelihood that the plaintiff will succeed on the merits [of the suit]."

PFOX also is troubled by the board's vote. "PFOX is not confident that the board is willing to do the right thing and include ex-gay material in any curriculum it now constructs. Our issues remain. In fact, the termination of the current Citizens Advisory Committee also eliminates Jackie Rice, our representative on it as well as CRC's representative, Michelle Turner. We will be interested to know who will be included in the new committee," said Regina Griggs, PFOX's executive director.

"The school board says it will continue to address 'sexual variations' as part of the revisions to the sex ed program," said Griggs. "But will MCPS continue to define sexual variations as everything but ex-gay? Transgendered, intersexed, homosexual, lesbian, and questioning were acceptable, but ex-gay was not. That's discriminatory. The board cannot pick and choose which sexual orientation they like."

Liberty Counsel, which filed the suit on behalf of the two groups, is cautiously optimistic of the board's newest step. "We are pleased with the board's decision to scrap the curriculum and continue to work hard to resolve all the remaining issues in the case. The curriculum was openly discriminatory against ex-gays, failed to factually inform our children of the real health risks of sexual activity and used certain pro-gay religious opinions to support its agenda, while discriminating against the viewpoints of mainstream religions," said Rena Lindevaldsen, one of Liberty Counsel's attorneys handling the case.

The board recently hired the one of the country's premier law firms, Hogan and Hartson, to assist in the litigation. Hogan and Hartson's hourly rate is among the highest in the country.

John Garza, attorney for CRC, claims the board has a history of hostility toward religion and points to two recent suits. In 2003 he filed suit against the board on behalf of a Walter Johnson High School student denied the community service credits needed to graduate because he volunteered for a religious organization.

Joshua Gale offered to work with children on the Cheyenne River Sioux Indian Reservation in South Dakota. The service was performed through the Vacation Bible School program and involved setting up games, cleaning and performing puppet shows with a Biblical theme. The case was settled out of court with the board changing its policy of denying service credits to students who choose faith-based volunteer work.

In another case, the board was sued by the Child Evangelism Fellowship of Maryland for refusing to let the Fellowship distribute its after school Good News Club flyers through the public schools' take-home flyer forum. A variety of 225 other groups were distributing flyers through the forum at the time. However, the board claimed the forum was not open to "proselytization" or "evangelical" groups. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit ruled in June 2004 that the board's action constituted viewpoint discrimination in violation of the Fellowship's free speech rights and remanded the case back to the District Court. In the interim, the board revised its flyer policy, making it compliant with the court's opinion.

Oh, man, I am laughing so hard I can't see.


Anonymous Tish said...

So CRC and PFOX are now saying that they really DID have a voice in creating the curriculum revisions? That's what they're complaining about, isn't it? Jackie and 'Retta and Michelle have complained about the CAC so much that the BOE is starting over, and now they cry foul. The reason they aren't happy with getting what they asked for is because they really want it both ways.

May 25, 2005 7:33 AM  
Blogger JimK said...

It would appear that they think that they should get special attention now, for being the whiners who wasted all the taxpayers' money on a lawsuit and wasted everybody's time who designed this curriculum in the first place. It appears to me that they got all they asked for -- MCPS is completely throwing away the new curriculum. And now it occurs to them that maybe nobody will invite them to sit at the table to design the next one.

Thinking about it, if I invited someone over to help me do some work, and they destroyed my house ... I might not invite them back.

May 25, 2005 10:09 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sounds like Teach the Facts are the whiners...

May 28, 2005 6:34 AM  

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