Friday, June 03, 2005

Teaching Facts: Friday Wrap-up

The recent lawsuit and suspension of the curriculum has left MCPS at a crossroads. Nobody is really sure what is going to happen next. Let me ramble on, please, about a couple of things I'd like to see and not-see in the next version.

Sexual variation. The state has mandated that the curriculum will cover sexual variation. This means that sexual orientation must be included -- teachers have to talk about gay people. Yeah, that's a can o' worms, because some people think that homosexuality is immoral. The students won't have a problem with it, and the health teachers are begging for this topic to be included, but some community members -- "parents" is too strong a word -- take any objective description to be "promotion" of homosexuality. Like you could talk a couple of straight teenage boys into trying being gay, because it sounds so cool. The schools need to present the facts objectively. They had planned to do that, and it needs to be in the next plan, too.

Ex-gays. DO NOT belong in the curriculum. Anybody can choose to conduct themselves in any way they want, and if they choose to change their behavior, they are free to do that. If we believe a certain anti-abortion activist, most children raised in the country have sex with the farm animals. We assume they stop at some point. Montgomery County has farms -- does this mean the curriculum should include ex-bestiality-practicers? How about ex-masturbators? Shouldn't they get equal time? Oh, come on, we've talked about this ex-gay thing before. There're lots of interesting and important sexual topics, and ex-gays are way down the list. How about teaching students about date-rape, or even rape itself? You parents, do you hear the stories I hear? Girls don't report this stuff, and they don't learn anything about it in school. But it happens every day. Nobody really believes you can change your sexual orientation, let's not waste their time on that, when there are more important topics that we're not covering.

Condoms. Regardless of how many times the Chastity Police tell you that condoms don't protect you from this or that, they're sure a whole lot better than nothing. Read HERE what the CDC says about them: For persons whose sexual behaviors place them at risk for STDs, correct and consistent use of the male latex condom can reduce the risk of STD transmission. Period. The new curriculum must have instruction on proper condom use. The new video was pretty good. If they want to improve it, fine, but it was definitely going in the right direction -- it had lots of good advice. Making fun of it because it uses a cucumber is obvious (the Washington Times finds "veggie sex" to be just the most hilarious thing in the world) and not very funny.

Religion. This is a good one, because the Liberty Counsel lawyers cleverly turned the issue around. There doesn't need to be any judgmental discussion of any religion. There also must not be any statements that are particular to one religion. Again, the ex-gay thing: I don't think you will find many, if any, non-religious sources of information about so-called ex-gays. Some churches like the concept of ex-gays because it assumes that being gay is bad, to start with. The schools don't need to tell anybody what's a sin. Chastity, too, is a religious concept, not a scientific one, it doesn't belong in the classroom.

Science. Science is the process of discovering and improving knowledge. Scientists are not in a hundred per cent agreement about everything, and everything in the world is not yet known. But there are certain things that scientists -- real scientists, not employees of religious organizations with the word "research" somewhere in the name -- do agree about. Sexual orientation is not a choice, and not a disease. Condoms stop the passage of sperm and microbes. The curriculum should be in conformance with the codes of ethics of scientific organizations: no reparative therapy. If religious nuts want to argue about that, let them argue on the sidelines. There is no reason to confuse our children with opinions that have been rejected by the experts in the field.

Meeting with CRC/PFOX. These organizations had some success in a court of law, forcing the district to shut down the new curriculum. That does not in any way suggest that they have the support of the majority of parents in this county. It only means they had the smarter lawyers. MCPS has to deal with the restraining order issued by Judge Williams, and to that end they must meet whatever standards the judge imposes. The vast majority of complaints mentioned in the lawsuit, however, were ignored by the judge. MCPS should be under no obligation to teach the kind of Sunday-school sex-ed that CRC would like to demand of them, and PFOX should not have any say at all in the design of the curriculum. Both groups should be permitted to have representation on the citizens committee, if such a committee is even assembled; they had members on the previous committee, and that's fine, but they have not won the right to take over the process.

In sum. The world is not about gay people, they're just people. A couple of days explaining who they are, how they feel, what they do, cool -- kids deserve and need that information. One good thing about the proposed changes was the way they blended and balanced this information in the classroom. Yes, indeeed, there are families with two mommies. Just a fact. Let the nuts become as indignant as they want -- and I understand that some of them really think their own marriages are endangered by this fact, but I don't understand why -- it remains a fact. Yes, kids growing up gay have issues with self-esteem, reputation, bullying. These are parts of the real world, any kid who has made it to eighth grade has seen it with their own eyes. They won't be shocked, but it is possible that they would benefit from a little objective information.

It is tricky to balance the fact that parents want their children to remain sexually abstinent with the other fact, that about half of the teenagers in America won't. The curriculum will encourage restraint from sex, but must also give information about what to do to have sex safely. We talk as if they were going to remain teenagers their whole lives -- no, what they learn in high school may come in handy ten years from now, it's just information, just knowledge. I trust that the health educators will be able to come up with something that addresses both truths.

Enjoy your weekend.


Blogger andrear said...

I have one MCPS student who will see Protect Yourself. Anyone else who wants their kid to see it can do it too. MCPS may not be showing it in health class but my daughter will see it.

And my daughter also knows about homosexuality- she knows actual gay people(not just the "one cousin")-all of them born that way. Relatives, friends, neighbors-yep- gay and straight, male and female- the real world(not the TV show)-not the scared, keep them dumb world that Liberty Counsel presents.

June 04, 2005 7:56 PM  
Anonymous Gleeful said...

Golly, lawsuits are just about who has the smarter lawyers? That's quite a bit of news to me. I thought some of them might actually be decided based on little things like the Constitution.

Oh, but you don't care about that. Just so long as you get to force Mont. Co. taxpayers to finance your "born gay forevah!" agenda.

June 13, 2005 5:02 PM  
Blogger JimK said...

Nah, Gleeful, smarter lawyers don't win lawsuits -- that's why legal expenses are always so low. Since it doesn't matter what lawyer you get, anybody can just use any cut-rate legal-eagle and get the same results.

June 13, 2005 8:07 PM  
Anonymous Gleeful said...

I believe you are the one who suggested the simplistic (who got them a smarter lawyer!) assessment.

I suggested that maybe the facts also have something to do with it.

June 14, 2005 9:35 AM  

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