Thursday, August 10, 2006

Candidates' Positions on Sex Ed

This week's Gazette published candidates' answers to a number of questions, including one about the sex education curriculum.

Here, without comment, are Montgomery County, Maryland, school board candidates' responses to the question: Should the school system's health curriculum include discussions of homosexuality and demonstrations of contraception use?
The school system should provide responsible, age-appropriate sex education with the option for families to elect participation in accordance with their beliefs. If we truly want students to grow up informed and ready to make choices that keep them safe and healthy, we must provide a curriculum that is comprehensive and medically accurate. Discussion of sexual orientation and homosexuality should be included. We know that combating prejudice and bullying targeted at students who are ''different" by virtue of being gay requires education. By including information about sexual orientation in the health curriculum, we will foster an environment of greater tolerance in our schools.

Similarly, the video demonstration of condom use should be included in a comprehensive curriculum. Condoms are the only form of birth control that can prevent unintended pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections. The number one reason for condom failure is improper use. In 2004, at the request of health teachers, MCPS piloted a condom use demonstration video in three high schools, designed to present information in a way that would hold students' attention. The response was overwhelmingly positive. If we are serious about protecting our students' health and giving them access to information about how to protect themselves from sexually transmitted infections, HIV AIDS and unintended pregnancies, we should include the demonstration in our instruction.

No, the public tax money is use to provide the student with education of sciences, math, English and other academic-related subjects. The discussions of homosexuality and demonstrations of contraception use are part of parental guidance and family value retention responsibility and should be no part of our public school curriculum.

I think that the parents should be the final decision makers in the area of sex education. I think that we are in an age where schools can create a ''customized" sex education curriculum. I am a believer in developing non-traditional means to achieve an end result. In the 21st century , we have VCR's, DVD players, IPODs, ect.... You could have a sex education program that is ''video-teleconferenced" (where parents could be a part of the sex education classes if they choose to.

Responses not available

Responses not available

The health curriculum should be comprehensive and fact based.

Parents are in the best position to decide what their children will learn about health, sex, sexuality, homosexuality, alternative lifestyles, abstinence, contraception and other components of the county's health curriculum. Some parents have decided that discussion about homosexuality and demonstrations on the use of contraception is appropriate for their child; while other parents have decided these discussions and demonstrations conflict with their religious and moral values that they teach at home.

Unfortunately, parents in effect have only one choice - to opt in or opt out their children in these discussions and demonstrations. Children, whose parents choose to opt out, are relegated to the library or some other ''holding classroom" until they are allowed to return to health class. The BoE should change this policy by giving parents the additional choice of opting in their children into health classes that teach the values and morals that are consistent with the values and morals they teach their children at home.

MCPS sets high standards for students in math, science, English, social studies, visual and performing arts, athletics, reading, literature, history, in all areas of the curriculum except one - health education. MCPS has watered down the health curriculum to the lowest expectations of our children. Our children deserve better.

I strongly support the planned revisions to the health education curriculum, to include discussions about homosexuality in grades 8 and 10 and a condom demonstration video in grade 10. Parents will have the opportunity to preview the curriculum and will still be required to sign a permission form to allow their children participate. I support 21st century health education for our students.

I support a comprehensive health curriculum. I foresee my role as a BOE member to listen to the recommendations of the community advisory panel that is currently reviewing proposed curriculum changes. It is likely that if the panel recommends a proposal that includes discussions of homosexuality and demonstrations of contraception use, I will be supportive.


Homosexuality and contraception use are a part of society and the facts about both should be taught in a responsible and unbiased manner that demonstrates respect, responsibility and abstinence. Many students and their families in Montgomery County don't wish to participate in such discussions and this point of view should be accommodated by having a strong, meaningful alternative to those who do not opt in to the health curriculum that includes these topics.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

With respect to Mr. Ibanez's response, he might want to check the statistics on the number of students whose parents/guardians have declined to give permission for their children to take the Family Life and Human Development unit of the Health Curriculum.

The school-by-school figures I was shown by MCPS Staff when I was chair of the Citizens Advisory Committee revealed that typically fewer than 1% of students did not receive permission. The highest percentage reported (and that was just once, I recall) was 2%. I was also informed that when the pilot programs with last year's proposed revisions including basic factual information on sexual orientation was presented, nearly all the students in the pilot classes received permission.

So Mr. Ibanez's proposal to have separate health education classes (as opposed to independent study units) for those whose families do not opt-in to the FLHD unit opt out would, in essence, mean a full, separate course for 0.3 students per class. Certainly, if significant numbers of students did not opt-in, such as to justify a separate class and teacher, that is something MCPS should consider. But that is not the case now.

August 10, 2006 10:22 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

so why did Weast get rid if it?

August 10, 2006 5:28 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Weast did not get rid of the existing curriculum. Rather, he scrapped the revisions and decided to start over with revisions in order to get rid of a frivolous lawsuit and to enable his attorneys to be prepared next time. Note that he announced last winter that he was following recommendations from a group of physicians from the American Academy of Pediatrics, upon whose positions the original revisions were largely based. Stay tuned.

August 10, 2006 5:53 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

well I gess it will be fun to see how they do under cross.

August 10, 2006 6:44 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Rather, he scrapped the revisions and decided to start over with revisions in order to get rid of a frivolous lawsuit and to enable his attorneys to be prepared next time."

There were scrapped because they were constitutionally flawed. They violated the rights of students. If the lawsuit was frivolous, it would have been thrown out by now. Instead, they started over to correct their mistakes.

August 10, 2006 8:08 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

its too bad Fishback knows nothing of the law.

August 10, 2006 8:24 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

On the off-chance that anyone actually pays attention to what this particular Anonymous says about the law, I refer him to my discussion in the comments section earlier this year at:

August 10, 2006 9:08 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


The revisions were wrong, both constitutionally and ethically. A judge suggested so strongly in his stay and his reasoning compelled the school board to start over.

It's a fact. Let's teach it. Let's admit it.

August 11, 2006 9:17 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The likelihood that MCPS would be tied up in litigation for years before it could implement the needed revisions is what led MCPS to decide to start over, thus enabling it to for force plaintiffs to the settlement which resulted in the case being dismissed. In the settlement, MCPS did not concede that anything it had in the original revised curriculum was improper or illegal. (The disputed teacher resources, which were not part of the curriculum, had already been withdrawn by MCPS.)

August 11, 2006 10:51 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

David S. Fishback said...
Nothing of any importance. Any chance that MCSB will be hiring you for legal counsel. God I hope so.

August 12, 2006 12:04 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I find it sad that parents think that they have the right to teach their child anything they want. If my moral system said that I must eat human babies, why should that be respected? The CDC had concluded that homosexuality is not a sickness, and something that can not be helped: it is a genetically useless byproduct of the evolution of sexual attraction.

That is like teaching down syndrome is immoral!(But don't think I am saying homosexuality is a form of retardation, its just something that can't be helped.

Just cause a several thousand year old, and often mistranslated book says something, doesn't mean that it should be respected over scientific conclusions and common sense. And I can see no other reason to be against birth control and teaching about homosexuality than that.

I'm sorry- its not a disease, its simply a condition, and something that we must learn to tolerate. You can't be "cured"- so its impossible to stop. To be prejudiced against that is no different from racism.

May 08, 2008 5:49 PM  

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