Friday, June 15, 2007

The Fishbacks Address the BOE

The other day I alluded to David Fishback's statement at public comments on Tuesday, where he explained his personal reasons for being so persistent about getting the AMA, AAP, and APA materials included in the curriculum. Here is the full text of that statement:
Presentation by David S. Fishback to the Montgomery County Board of Education
June 12, 2007

I have spoken with you many times about health education, noting that every mainstream medical and mental health professional association has concluded that homosexuality is not an illness.

In November 2004, the Board unanimously voted to include this statement in the health curriculum. In the curriculum you will consider today, Dr. Weast recommends inclusion of this statement as a resource teachers may use to answer questions. This is a good step.

The curriculum also explains that it is important "to be educated about homosexuality [because such education] . . . is likely to diminish anti-gay prejudice. Accurate information . . . is especially important to young people who are first discovering and seeking to understand their sexuality."

Today, I really want to talk with you parent to parent. My sons both happen to be gay. They are marvelous young adults, and my wife and I are very proud of them. But the years before they came out were hellish. They kept their secret from everyone, including from each other, fearing that there was something wrong with them. Our younger son contemplated suicide, and our older son had anger we could not understand.

Mr. Abrams, you know our older son, Mike, and how accomplished he was at Richard Montgomery, where he was a classmate of your daughter. But what you may not know is that after he came out before his junior year at Yale, he told us that when he was in high school, he could never envision a happy life for himself. He told us that if, in health class, it had been explained to him that the medical profession had found that being gay isn't a mental disorder and that gay people can lead happy lives, it would have made all the difference in the world to him.

Your Citizens Advisory Committee recommended inclusion of several other important statements that are not in the proposal before you. I urge you to take the opportunity, following the first year of implementation, to evaluate the need for that information, as well.

Many community members look forward to helping in this endeavor. Attached is a letter my wife wrote to you on these issues. She is far more eloquent than I.

Thank you.

As mentioned, he also submitted to the board a letter written by his wife, Bobbi, which was not read in the public comments.

Here it is:
Attachment: Letter from Barbara Fishback to the Board

Sent: Sat, 9 Jun 2007 9:10 pm
Subject: Letter to Board from Barbara Fishback on Sex Ed Issue
June 9, 2007

Via e-mail (

The Honorable Nancy Navarro, President
Montgomery County Board of Education
850 Hungerford Drive
Rockville, Maryland 20850

Dear President Navarro and Members of the Board:

I know you know of my family and especially my husband, David, who has worked tirelessly on the sex-ed issue for years now. This is a personal plea, from my heart, as a mother, to your hearts as parents, because I have looked into my sons' eyes and seen pain that no parent should ever have to see. This is pain that can be alleviated for children in the future by your inclusion of the Citizens Advisory Committee's recommended additions to the new curriculum, most importantly the statement that homosexuality is not a disease or mental disorder.

Both of our beloved sons realized they were gay when they were just 10 years old, in the 5th grade at Cashell Elementary School. For years each of them dealt with the knowledge of their same-sex attraction alone and in fear of themselves. One of my sons contemplated suicide, and that is what leads me to write this letter.

Our family was so fortunate that our son chose to live. But the fact is that many of our County's gay children needlessly suffer in silence, perhaps contemplating suicide, but more often suffering from depression, stress and anxiety, negatively impacting their learning and their overall well-being.

Of the many missions you have as a School Board, the most important is to safeguard and protect our community's children. Somehow the question here became how to prevent another lawsuit or minimize controversy. But that is not the right question. Your primary job is not to prevent lawsuits. If they come, so be it. Your job is to protect our children - - in this case, in particular, gay children in our schools - - and to do what is in their best interest. At issue, here, are but a few quotes from mainstream medical and mental health associations, but they will go a long way to alleviating the pain and anxiety of our gay children.

This is not an abstract issue. It is a real problem, for real children, with a real solution that you can easily implement.

Please do the right thing for the right reasons and vote to include the Advisory Committee's recommendations in the curriculum.

Thank you.

Barbara Fishback


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Some comprehensive sex-education curricula that's taught in the nation's schools has essentially no impact on behavior – according to a report by the Department of Health and Human Services that was released this week.

Critics of abstinence education have been raising challenges on the basis of "medical inaccuracy," but the HHS study found abstinence-ed programs to be nearly 100 percent accurate. Moreover, the report placed abstinence ed on par with comprehensive sex ed as far as medical accuracy: "It could easily be argued that the comprehensive sex education curricula reviewed… have a similar rate of error compared with abstinence-until-marriage curricula."

Angela Griffiths, executive director of Await & Find, said some members of Congress have painted a false picture of abstinence education.

"Congressman (Henry) Waxman, (D-Calif.), and others have been holding abstinence-education programs to a different standard than they're willing to hold all adolescent-health education programs,"

The report was critical of comprehensive sex-ed curricula for being remarkably narrow in scope. Even the most "balanced" lessons mentioned condoms seven times more often than abstinence.

"They're condom-promotion and contraceptive-promotion programs," Griffiths said. "That is a description of what they do. Calling them 'comprehensive' is somehow saying that they do more than what abstinence programs do."

The study also found the way comprehensive sex ed presented information to be amoral and explicit.

Leslie Unruh, president of the National Abstinence Clearinghouse, said it's time for parents to speak up about what's being taught.

"It's teaching some really different kinds of thinking that really you would expect to see in pornography," she said. "What is going to happen if people do not stand up is they will get this kind of radical sex ed in all the schools in America."

June 15, 2007 7:17 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


HHS is an authority in the health and human services area.

June 15, 2007 7:56 PM  
Blogger Dana Beyer, M.D. said...

A housecleaning at HHS is long overdue.

June 15, 2007 11:35 PM  
Blogger Priya Lynn said...

Anonymous at June 15, 2007 7:17 PM

Like anyone reasonable person's going to listen to Leslie Unruh the bible thumping criminal.

June 15, 2007 11:46 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Aunt Bea said...

Anon posted a Focus on the Family spin article (CitizensLink at that cites a Focus on the Family author (Angela Griffiths), who is spinning a "BushHHScience" paper. They are trying to create spinnable "facts" but when you check them out, they don't check out.

These political spinners report that comprehensive sex education curricula "have a similar rate of error compared with abstinence-until-marriage curricula." The BushHHScience paper ( was apparently intended to take some of the sting out of Waxman's 2004 review of abstinence-only sex ed programs (, which found abstinence-only curricula contained numerous "inaccuracies."

In the actual review paper the spin article is about, BushHHS reported that nine comprehensive sex ed curricula were found to contain a TOTAL of 9 "inaccuracies" and that Waxman's review of 13 abstinence-only curricula found a TOTAL of 49 "inaccuracies."

To make it easy for the mathematically challenged, the report indicates there is ONE "inaccuracy" per comprehensive curricula (9/9) but nearly FOUR (3.769) "inaccuracies" per abstinence-only curricula (49/13). Abstinence-only programs contain nearly FOUR TIMES as many inaccuracies as comprehensive programs.

Does anyone except the spinners think these data indicate the "inaccuracy" rates in both types of sex ed program curricula are "similar?" This conclusion is what Representative Waxman correctly called "an ideologically skewed interpretation of the scientific evidence." Does anyone think if the numbers had been reversed, these spinners would still have said the inaccuracy rates are "similar?" They would have been screaming bloody murder!

But that's not as bad as this BushHHS report gets. One of the "inaccuracies" in comprehensive curricula identified by the BushHHS report is the use of the term "dental dam." BushHHS in May of 2007 says that term is incorrect and the program should have used the FDA-approved term "rubber dam" instead. These spinners are so desperate to find "inaccuracies" in comprehensive sex ed curricula that they've resorted to complaining about semantics. What's so damning about this complaint about the use of the term "dental dams" is that the US government currently uses this term on many of its own medical advisory websites. US Government websites that encourage the use of "dental dams" for protection from STDs include but are not limited to: June 2007 December 2006 October 2006 October 2006 August 2006 June 2006

Now all of a sudden recommending the use of these devices is an "inaccuracy" for comprehensive sex ed programs? Yeah right. As Jim would say, bull-oney. Political spin is the only explanation for this dishonesty.

June 16, 2007 6:02 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Andrea- not anon
Remember all the nonsense(lies) about who wrote the curriculum- that they weren't doctors and had no background in the field(which wasn't true but when has that stopped FOTF or CRC). This Griffiths person is a doctor of chiropractics. Wow, talk about expertise in the field.

June 16, 2007 6:33 PM  
Blogger Priya Lynn said...

Way to go Aunt Bea, you truly are impressive. Thanks for straightening out the spin put out by the crooked "Focus on the Family".

June 17, 2007 5:02 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks for your kind words Randi. I encourage everyone to read both reports and to compare the serious problems Waxman's group found with Abstinence-only curricula to the bull-oney BushHHS and FOTF is trying to spin.

Some of the errors in Abstinence-only sex education curricula Waxman's team found are:

"the teaching manual of one curriculum explicitly states: “It is critical that students
understand that if they choose to be sexually active, they are at risk” for cervical cancer. Another curriculum asks, “What is the leading medical complication from HPV? Cervical cancer.” Neither of these curricula mentions that human papilloma virus (HPV), though associated with most cases of cervical cancer, rarely leads to the disease, nor that cervical cancer is highly preventable when women get regular Pap smears.

Other curricula advise that condoms have not been proven effective in blocking the transmission of HPV and that “no evidence” demonstrates condoms’ effectiveness against HPV transmission. According to the CDC, however, evidence indicates that condoms do reduce the risk of cervical cancer itself, a fact which both curricula omit. These curricula also say nothing about the importance of Pap smears.

...One curriculum presents data on HIV exposure in a misleading and confusing way. The curriculum uses data from a CDC chart originally titled “HIV infection cases in adolescents and adults under age 25, by sex and exposure category.” The original CDC chart looks at all people with HIV under 25 and categorizes them by reported route of exposure, such as heterosexual sex or intravenous drug use. But the curriculum misleadingly puts the CDC data in a new chart called “Percent HIV Infected” and scrambles the CDC data in a way that suggests greatly exaggerated HIV rates among teenagers. For example, where the CDC chart showed that 41% of female teens with HIV reportedly acquired it through heterosexual contact, the curriculum’s chart suggests that 41% of heterosexual female teens have HIV. It similarly implies that 50% of homosexual male teens have HIV.

...One curriculum makes a spurious claim about chlamydia’s health effects:

"The Institute of Medicine states, “. . . the full clinical spectrum of many STDs is still being described.”. . . [An] example is that studies are finding chlamydia in the atherosclerotic plaque (‘hardening of the arteries’) that is often the cause of heart attack and strokes many Americans suffer. Some researchers are suggesting that chlamydia may actually cause this problem. Only time and good research will tell."

In fact, the research cited in the curriculum found an association between heart disease and a type of chlamydia (called Chlamydia pneumoniae) that is not sexually transmitted. This bacteria spreads from person to person through respiratory transmission and is a common cause of pneumonia among children and adolescents. It is an entirely different bacteria from Chlamydia trachomatis, which is sexually transmitted.

...One curriculum states: “Twenty-four chromosomes from the mother and twenty-four chromosomes from the father join to create this new individual.” In fact, human cells have 23 chromosomes from each parent, for a total of 46 in each body cell. The same curriculum also teaches: “Girls produce only female ovum, boys, however, have both male and female sperm.” This too is inaccurate. Females produce ova with X chromosomes, and males produce sperm with either X or Y chromosomes. These combine to make an XX combination (female) or an XY combination (male).

...One curriculum tells instructors: “Reassure students that small lumps in breast tissue is common in both boys and girls during puberty. This condition is called gynecomastia and is a normal sign of hormonal changes.” This definition is incorrect. In adolescent medicine, gynecomastia refers to a general increase in breast tissue in boys.

...Another curriculum erroneously includes “tears” and “sweat” in a column titled “At risk” for HIV transmission. In fact, according to the CDC, “[c]ontact with saliva, tears, or sweat has never been shown to result in transmission of HIV.”

June 18, 2007 1:21 PM  

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