Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Raising the Standard

TeachTheFacts.org is going to have a forum in a couple of weeks, and it is really shaping up to be cool. I'll go into it in more detail as the days go on, but we've got some national-level figures in medicine and education, some Montgomery County people, a couple of people who will share some eye-opening personal experiences, and some other things.

Expect to hear more as time goes along. We are really excited about the agenda so far, and there is still some stuff in the planning.

Today we sent out some announcements about the forum to a bunch of email groups:
Community Forum Announced for September 25, 2005:

"Teach the Facts – Just Say NOW to Comprehensive and Inclusive Health Education"

September 1, 2005, Rockville, MD – As the Montgomery County Public School System prepares improvements to its 8th and 10th grade health education curriculum, TeachTheFacts.Org today announces a community forum, "Teach the Facts – Just Say NOW to Comprehensive and Inclusive Health Education," to be held on Sunday afternoon, September 25, 2005, in the auditorium of Bethesda-Chevy Chase High School, 4301 East-West Highway, Bethesda, MD, from 1:30 PM to 3:30 PM.

Speakers will include Dr. Paul Wertsch, Chair of the American Medical Association's Advisory Committee on Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgender Issues and past President of the Wisconsin Medical Society; Deborah Roffman, nationally-renowned educator and author of Sex and Sensibility: The Thinking Parent's Guide to Talking Sense About Sex; and Glenn Northern of Rockville, Planned Parenthood Federation of America's Sexuality Education Policy Manager. These experts will discuss the positions of mainstream American medical and mental health professional associations, all of whom support age-appropriate comprehensive sex education (as opposed to "abstinence only" approaches) and reject the proposition that homosexuality is a disease that can and should be "cured." They will also discuss their own experiences in the field.

The forum will also provide ample time for audience questions and discussion.

Dobson's Focus on the Family and Jerry Falwell's Liberty Counsel temporarily blocked MCPS's plan to implement medically and educationally sound revisions to the health education curriculum. These groups continue to attack such sound revisions and have urged that discredited and dangerous "reparative therapy" notions be part of the curriculum. In contrast, TeachTheFacts.org believes that it is essential that the community hear and discuss the facts underlying the efforts of our public school system to improve health education.

TeachTheFacts.org is a grassroots community organization launched by Montgomery County parents to advocate for science-based health education for public school students based on the wisdom of organizations such as the American Medical Association, the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Psychiatric Association, and the American Psychological Association. More information can be found at www.teachthefacts.org.

Of course, we're expecting to see all of you there -- these are some of the most knowledgeable people in the world when it comes to this stuff.

But that's not what I invited you here to talk about.

As soon as we sent this out, the President of the Citizens for a Responsible Curriculum just had to reply to it on the Montgomery County Council of PTA's Delegates listserve as well as their Executive listserve, and the Einstein High School listserve. Maybe others, I don't know. (Just for fun, I just checked the CRC online "forum", and there's nothing there. Well, the only person logged in, as usual, was me, so what would be the point?)

She had to tell the world this:
Please keep in mind that in order to teach a fact, one must have possession of it. TTF still does not. Just a reminder, a federal judge, and Clinton appointee, sided with the PARENT group, Citizens for a Responsible Curriculum, and found MCPS guilty of "view point discrimination". In other words, bias towards others of a differing view. That is what halted the sex ed revisions.

Michelle Turner

Now, it's been a little while, and not everybody is going over this day after day like we do, so let me back it up just a second here.

I gotta say, first, -- ooh! -- this "TTF still does not" thing put us in our place so hard it takes our breath away. Wow.

OK, I got my breath back.

The second thing, calling the CRC a "PARENT group" is, mmm, a little disengenuous. Technically true, I suppose, as far as it goes, but none of the CRC's ranking people, as far as I know, are parents of kids who are affected by what's in the health curriculum -- please, you CRC members, feel free to say something in the comments here if I'm wrong. Homeschool? Private school? Opt out of Health? --That's all of you, right? I mean, all of you who have kids. We know you read this blog, go ahead and comment.

Third thing. The judge's ruling. Can you imagine? I mean, don't gloss over this, think for a second about what the world would be like if there were some standard of "viewpoint discrimination," where the schools had to teach both sides of everything that had a controversy associated with it. There is no such law, no judge has ever said that a school has to teach both sides of every controversy, and if it were suddenly the law the schools would simply have to shut down. The flat-earthers would want time, the how-the-leopard-got-his-spots people, the Klan, the Communists, and the Pastafarians would need to have their side taught ... it just wouldn't work, and no judge will ever require it. It would simply be the end of education if that were the law. Because, as the English guys said the other day, One Side Can Be Wrong.

You might remember that Liberty Counsel, the legal firm that represented the bad guys, filed the suit just days before the curriculum was going to be pilot-tested in the schools, even though they had been planning the ambush for at least five months. The judge only received the school district's documents the day he issued his opinion, so he almost surely had no time to read, and certainly had no time to study and contemplate, the district's arguments. (And remember, he only issued a 10-day restraining order, the cancellation was done following negotiations between the two sides.) (Oh, and nobody was "found guilty" of anything, Michelle.)

On one of the listserves, attorney David Fishback responded to Ms. Turner's comments in part by noting:
I am sure the Liberty Counsel attorneys knew full well that their "viewpoint discrimination" argument -- which MCPS had virtually no opportunity to rebut, given the "drive-by shooting" nature of the litigation -- would never withstand appellate review. If it were good law, every school system in the nation would be constitutionally required to teach, for example, creationism and even Holocaust denial views as "just another viewpoint." Indeed, I suspect CRC/PFOX caved to the MCPS demand that the lawsuit be dropped without constraining MCPS's freedom to select curriculum because CRC/PFOX knew they would lose on appeal.

Last thing. This is gonna be fun. Especially if the CRC and PFOX people join in and help us promote our forum.

I have seen some of the responses on the listserves that Ms. Turner wrote to, and she has really stimulated some good, critical thinking, people who really do understand the issues have had their way with her snark, using it as a platform from which to illuminate the topic. And good, critical thinking is good for us. That's why we'll be bringing in bright, articulate, well-educated speakers to our forum, to raise the level of the discussion here from I-know-you-are-but-what-am-I to a serious consideration of the best way to teach our children about sex in the twenty-first century.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

CRC's President claims MCPS lost a lawsuit and was found guilty of "bias towards others of a differing view."

If CRC does not embrace bias, then how do they explain their support for the current health education curriculum? There is not a single word about sexual orientation in the existing curriculum. This dearth represents a bias against groups of people of different sexual orientations and is especially harmful because it occurs in a class about human sexuality.


September 06, 2005 10:16 PM  
Blogger JimK said...


I wrote and then deleted some stuff in this post about TTF being a parents' group. Because you're right, there are some parents, some kids, some people who don't have kids, some people whose kids have grown up, etc. We're not strictly a parents group. But the fact is, most of us who started this group and are still in the middle of it all do have kids in the public schools, and they take the health classes. Whereas you will have a hard time finding any parents of MCPS students at CRC (and if you do, they were kept out of Health), TeachTheFacts really is founded by MCPS parents. We extend beyond that, but at least we do have parents of Health students.


September 06, 2005 11:08 PM  
Blogger Kay2898 said...

Jim K writes:
I have seen some of the responses on the listserves that Ms. Turner wrote to, and she has really stimulated some good, critical thinking, people who really do understand the issues have had their way with her snark, using it as a platform from which to illuminate the topic.


Michelle seems to be her own worst enemy when she opens her mouth. She has yet to grasp any real issues except to remain on task in promoting homophobic bigotry and hate.

Even then she says the oddest things that gives the opening for people to promote logical statements against her illogical ones.

No wonder she continually cancels any forums that has her going against people even from TTF who really do know what is going on in defending everyone's right to be who they are.

Let's see Michelle/CRC/Recall talk their way out of these characters that Michelle and company chose to highlight their homophobic platform back in March.


Cannot wait for TTF to hightlight the direct opposite to CRC's hatefest in sharing what the TTF forum speakers have to say.

Money on it will be that it will be a total opposite to the CRC hatefest in March.

Kay R

September 07, 2005 8:22 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Please, Jim, don't compare the junk that CRC puts out to Pastafarianism. We Pastafarians are about love and inclusiveness-maybe a little crazy but not homophobic, not hateful, and a whole lot smarter than the other side. We keep our kids in public school and we opt-in- which is why the nonsense and lies CRC wants - like the "ex-gay" thing angers us-these people want to tell us what our kids should learn -but their kids aren't even in the classroom.

Pasta rules!

September 07, 2005 8:55 AM  
Blogger JimK said...

Anon, I guess I wasn't clear enough; I meant that the Great Spaghetti Monster should not be considered as "just another" religious symbol or topic in a class, and that the truth about him should not be concealed under the cloak of secularism.

Obviously, children should be taught about the Flying Spaghetti Monster beginning in kindergarten, and all the way through high school. It's not enough that they already include "under his noodly appendage" in their morning Homeland pledge, I think there should be pictures of the noodly master in every classroom, and time should be taken every day for a plate of sacramental spaghetti. Those who don't want to eat of the noodle can just go outside or find something else to do.

September 07, 2005 9:18 AM  
Blogger JimK said...

Kay, in response to your comments, of course you're right, our forum will be the opposite of theirs in a lot of ways. But I don't want to try to be the opposite of them, or define our mission in their terms.

They brought in a bunch of ignorant haters, unbelievable in fact that you can still find people like that. We are going to bring in some experts and people with knowledge. It will be different, but I don't think we should think of it as the "anti-CRC" forum or anything. They had their day, they showed what they believe in, fine for them.

Our forum is intended to inform and focus on the issues. I can't say that's "the opposite" of what they did, but ... it's sure different.

September 07, 2005 9:29 AM  
Blogger Kay2898 said...


Anything that is more informative and balanced in promoting respect, rights and acceptance and does not promote homophobic bigotry and hate is exactly opposite to CRC.

Kay R

September 07, 2005 10:43 AM  

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