Friday, June 03, 2005

Some Fear Ripple Effect, Yes

The Washington Blade had a really good story Friday. See, Montgomery County isn't the only place with a problem. Seems the last presidential elections encouraged people of the sanctimonious persuasion into thinking they were going to push everyone aside and set up their own way of doing things in the school districts everywhere. So as America marched blithely into the light, these guys were hoping to throw it into darkness, and this whole "moral values mandate" thing made them believe it was time to flip the switch.

And now that the Liberty Counsel lawyers outfoxed the ones that nap and play checkers for MCPS, the Prudish Minority has determined that their time is now.

Some observers fear the recent hullabaloo over inclusion of gay topics in Montgomery County's sex education classes may cross county and even state lines and prompt changes in other schools.

Each state has a sexuality education mandate and some departments of education provide additional guidelines. The context of these mandates and guidelines vary from state to state and even from school to school.

"There is no uniform policy on any of this," said Martha Kempner of the Sexuality Information & Education Council of the United States.

Because some school districts fear controversy, they preemptively self censor their curriculum, Kempner said. Adopting a program that could be deemed controversial can mean schools fight the battle alone.

"It's leaving schools and teachers flailing without guidelines," she said. "Controversy often has chilling effects."

The Montgomery County Board of Education voted to create a new sex education program last month, after two anti-gay groups sued the school district over complaints that the revised curriculum "normalized" homosexuality. Some fear sex ed flap's ripple effect

Now, for Those Who Need Everything Spelled Out For Them, The Blade is Washington DC's gay newspaper. So a reference to "normalizing homosexuality" here is read a l-i-t-t-l-e differently than when, say, The Times says it. And when they say "anti-gay," which is perfectly accurate, readers know what the implication is. They are famiiar with the syndrome.
The debate in Montgomery County has already inspired some parents in Fairfax County, Va., to form their own version of Citizens for a Responsible Curriculum — a Maryland group that opposed the revised sex education program — to protest their board's approval of pamphlets on emergency contraception, as reported in the Washington Times.

Prince George's County is also updating its curriculum, a process that began months ago. Its sex education program includes discussions of homosexuality.

Richard Cohen of Parents & Friends of Ex-Gays & Gays said he is watching the situations in Prince George's County and Fairfax closely.

"We will definitely request they include resources and information on coming out of homosexuality," Cohen said. "Let it be known PFOX is on the move."

Richard Cohen ... Richard Cohen ... mmm, that name is familiar, isn't it? Oh yes, the one who was expelled from the American Counseling Association for ethical violations. Why, I'll bet he is watching this situation. Guys like him can do very well in these circumstances.

A little ways down the story -- which I recommend you read, I hate having to skip parts, but it's just too long -- we hear from the Liberty Counsel guys who won the case here in Montomery County:
"Under the guise of tolerance," educators are teaching that homosexuality is "normal and natural" — "a very chic alternative," he said.

"This [Montgomery County] case sends a message that schools must honor and respect the rights of parents and their children," Staver said. "It jeopardizes significant resources to defend and lose a case like this."

Love that, eh? Jeopardizes significant resources. Dude, when you live here, the phrase is; Wastes a hell of a lot of taxpayers' money. Whether you win or lose, it's a betting game. The Prudish Minority has free lawyers, the school district has to pay for theirs. Guess who can afford to bluff. Guess who has to throw in their cards.
It's a delicate balance between local control and state involvement, agrees Jody Huckaby, executive director of Parents, Families & Friends of Lesbians & Gays.

He said that local curriculum created through a community-oriented process, as it was in Montgomery County, is a model for other districts. Rather than state intervention, Huckaby wants departments of education to proclaim that schools should only teach "scientifically based" materials.

"Schools have to decide to teach science or teach fiction," Huckaby said.

I like that: science or fiction. Yes, that's good.

Go read this. The Blade has interviewed some good people, not just the usual suspects. They're looking at some different angles of this situation.

We need to pay attention. We need to stand strong. Cuz that starboard wing is definitely flappin'.


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