Monday, June 11, 2007

What Will Happen Tomorrow

Teach the Facts has been fighting for comprehensive and inclusive sex-ed for two and a half years now. We've kept up on the blog, we've had forums, we've talked to officials and addressed the school board at public comments, we've worked with reporters and media people from the big networks and the smallest local newspapers to make sure the story got out straight. On this blog I personally have cajoled and annoyed the school board members collectively and individually, the press collectively and individually, the PTA, the CRC and all the weirdos who support them, the lady who says she is not a Nazi, Republicans, Democrats ... uh, who'd I miss?

This is important to us: we can't fight the "Assault on Reason" at the national level, but we can do something about it locally, in our little county. So when a band of extremists tried to recall our school board and corrupt our educational system in 2004, we stood up to them. They pulled it off in lots of places, not here.

Tomorrow, Tuesday June 12th, the Montgomery County Board of Education will receive a recommendation from the Superintendent of Schools, proposing acceptance of the new classes: two 45-minute classes in 8th grade and two in 10th grade about sexual variation, and one condom usage class in 10th grade. The school board unanimously voted in January to adopt this curriculum for pilot testing, and we expect them to vote to adopt it this time, too, for full implementation in the fall.

The citizens advisory committee that evaluates the curriculum, a 15-member panel selected by MCPS, strongly recommended last winter that materials from the American Medical Association, the American Academy of Pediatrics, and the American Psychological Association be included in the classes. The Superintendent's staff decided not to include those materials in the pilot test; from a comment this week in The Post it appears that the materials may not have seemed "neutral" enough for them. There is no other explanation -- you can't be sued for using literature produced by the dominant professional organizations in the fields of medicine and mental health, and you won't be wrong citing those experts. These are very carefully crafted statements reflecting the current opinions of the leading experts in the field. But no, they are not neutral, they are unambiguous about sexual orientation.

It's impossible to guess what will happen tomorrow, exactly. Let me sketch out the possibilities.

Public comments are scheduled for 10:30 in the morning. This is where anyone can call in and sign up to address the board. There is room on the list for fifteen people, as I recall, and sometimes it fills up. It might tomorrow.

I don't know who will speak at public comments, but I expect both sides will see it as a last chance to make a statement. Our side will ask the board one more time to reconsider the inclusion of the experts' materials, and the CRC and PFOX will probably have people saying that the curriculum ... I don't know, it causes promiscuity or suicide or makes kids turn gay or something. I wouldn't try to guess. Whatever, they'll be against it. Maybe they'll want to remind the board that they have threatened repeatedly to sue. Maybe they'll tell them again how much they love them.

The Citizens for a Responsible Curriculum sent out a call for people to come protest the vote. Their mass-emailing lists a bunch of fake complaints they have with the curriculum and the process, and concludes:
Please JOIN OUR family friendly PROTEST on the morning of June 12th at 9:30 a.m.! We will meet outside the Carver Educational Building on Rockville Pike in Rockville, Maryland at If you have young children, put them in strollers and come hold a sign that says "Health Before Politics" or "No Unisex Bathrooms." The signs are already made. We want the media to have plenty of footage for the TV newscast and plenty of pictures for the newspaper!

So there will likely be a bit of a circus outside in the morning. Maybe Dr. Jacobs will be holding her football, so she can say, "Don't use our kids as a football." Which is so effective.

It's always interesting to see which media outlets give them publicity.

The agenda item "Final adoption of the revised health education curriculum" is scheduled for 2:10 until 2:40. This is where it will be interesting.

As I said, all the board members will probably vote to accept the classes as they are, as they were tested. During testing there were two major problems: teachers are required to read the lectures exactly as they are written, and they are not allowed to answer students' questions about the material. Both of these problems are easily solved: give the teachers the articles by the AMA, AAP, and APA as background materials, and give a set of "bullet point" statements to students as a handout. Then teachers will be able to discuss the topic in an educated way, they will have the knowledge to answer students' questions, and importantly, students won't have to ask some questions, they'll already be answered.

The citizens advisory committee voted last week, again, to recommend inclusion of these materials. We have been assured that there is no legal impediment -- it won't make the school district more vulnerable to lawsuits. The material is informative, authoritative, and up to date. Why is there even hesitation here?

We shouldn't try to guess how anybody will vote. The questionnaire from our Candidate Forum with Equality Montgomery County and the Interfaith Fairness Coalition might have a clue. This question was asked of all the 2006 candidates for school board:
Do you support a comprehensive sex education curriculum in Montgomery County Schools that, while stressing the importance of abstinence for teens, provides students with information on sexually transmitted diseases based on established scientific evidence, and recognizes, again based on established scientific evidence and the conclusions of every mainstream medican and health professional association (including the American Medical Association, the American Academy of Pediatrics, and the American Psychological Association), that sexual orientation is not a choice, and homosexuality is not a medical or other disorder?

OK, that is clear. People who responded "Yes" to this question do support recognizing the conclusions of the AMA, AAP, and APA.

Winning candidates who responded "Yes" to this item were:
  • Pat O'Neill
  • Judy Docca
  • Nancy Navarro (current Board President)
  • Shirley Brandman (current Board Vice-President)

(Of course, it is possible that a member would not keep their campaign promises. I will not comment on the implications of that for anyone's political career.)

That gives four board members who promised to support recognition of the professional organizations' views in the curriculum. Five votes make a majority. Several other members have indicated support the recommendation, but we can't read their minds; we hope at least one other will vote for it. Well, let's not guess how anybody will vote. We'll just cross our fingers.

The chair of the citizens advisory committee is going to be out of the country for this meeting, and she appointed a committee member, attorney Elinor Walker, to represent the committee at the table during the Board's discussion of this topic. Superintendent's staff who were present at the committee meeting suggested that the committee express itself at public comments, rather than during the Board's discussion of the curriculum. The chair responded that the committee was appointed by the Board and is responsible to them, and should be represented during the discussion.

So there will be an interesting moment tomorrow, when the Board of Education should ask for a representative of the citizens advisory committee to come to the table. It is clear that the Superintendent doesn't want to encourage that -- will the Board ask for committee representation anyway? They really should want their own committee's opinion expressed. We'll see how this is handled.

The board has allocated a half hour to discussion. I'm sure by now everybody knows what they're going to do. This is a high profile decision, there will be the television trucks in the parking lot with their tall antennas, cameras all over the place, CRC waving those stupid yellow signs. The school board will choose whether to go all the way and provide the progressive education Montgomery County residents expect, or sign off on the neutralized version that got through pilot testing.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Andrea - not anon

I will include the statement from the Surgeon General's report that says homosexuality is not a choice in my letter to the BOE. Since CRC is so tight with the SG- then they should be happy with that. The statement I am using was written in this century and can actually be directly linked to an SG in office. Unlike nutty anon who claimed that the SG is the medical authority on everything and who never responded to my posting about the SG report- I think the AMA and the APA is the standard but having an SG along doesn't hurt. Of course, CRC and the nutty anon only buy the SG line when it supports them.

June 11, 2007 11:45 AM  
Blogger Randi Schimnosky said...

As Aunt bea pointed out John Holsinger noted that millions of heterosexuals have anal sex with no problems but dishonestly claimed anal sex amongst gays is problematic. Another glaring example of the dishonesty of Holsinger and his unsuitability for the position of surgeon general is found in the 1991 paper he wrote for the methodist church.

Holsinger singled out gay men as particularly diseased by claiming that STD’s are “strongly correlated to sexual lifestyle,” and presented a large number of statistics for an impressive list of diseases. Unfortunately, the statistics were given without context, leaving the impression that they are representative of all gay men.

But what is that context? It turns out that these statistics came from one lone study consisting of a convenience sample of 365 male patients, all of whom attended a single urban STD clinic in Copenhagen over a seven month period in 1983. Holsinger went on to dishonestly generalize that what was true of the gay men in this study was true of all gay men

This is not a representative study at all. It’s not even a representative study of gay men in downtown Copenhagen. It tells us nothing about rural or suburban Danish men. More importantly, it doesn’t tell us anything about gay men who don’t need the services of an STD clinic.

This is a typical tactic of anti-gay bigots, take a study of people in an STD clinic, or of people in the hospital infected with HIV and without telling readers the context of the study encourage them to believe the sexual activity and infection rates of the people in the study is true of all gay people in general.

Can you imagine if we went to an STD clinic, studied the heterosexuals there and then claimed that the rate of STDs found is typical of all heterosexuals? Obviously one doesn't do this sort of thing by accident - Holsinger knew he was lying, but Christians like him think that's okay if it serves the anti-gay cause.

June 11, 2007 1:51 PM  
Anonymous GiveMeABreak said...

CDC agrees with Holsinger totally.

CDC stats show men who have sex with men (MSM) still represent over 50% of new HIV cases, karposi's etc. Many STD's are multiple's higher than general population.

Typical tactic of heterophobic gay zealots. Play ignorant whenever convenient and hope nobody notices. Yeah...and of course the next claim will be x% of men have sex with other men but don't consider themselves homosexual so CDC number don't count.

Sure, right. Just like Kinsey's prison population, sexual offenders, and gay bathhouses were representative of the general population.

Randi is such a phony.

June 12, 2007 2:31 AM  
Blogger Randi Schimnosky said...

Anonymous said "CDC agrees with Holsinger totally."

Obviously not. There's no way CDC agrees that using a study of attendees at an STD clinic says anything about what gays who did not need the services of an STD clinic. If you've got a quote to prove otherwise then by all means let's see it.

And seeing as you recognize the CDC as an authority then you won't be disputing this:

In response to a question that asked, “Do you think of yourself as heterosexual, homosexual, bisexual, or something else?” 90 percent of men 18-44 years of age responded that they think of themselves as heterosexual, 2.3 percent of men answered homosexual, 1.8 percent bisexual, 3.9 percent “something else,” and 1.8 percent did not answer the question (figure 8). Percents for women were similar. These findings are similar to data collected in 1992 by Laumann et al.

9.8% of the respondents said they were something other than heterosexual. Obviously any stats that use only people who label themselves as homosexual are going to be inaccurate.

Backing this up is a 2003 telephone survey of more than 4,000 men conducted by the New York City public health department just published in the Annals of Internal Medicine found that men who have sex with men who deny being gay are more numerous than self-acknowledged gay or bisexual men.

According to Reuters, fully 10 percent of the men in the survey who identified themselves as "straight" said in the past year they had sex with one or more men but no woman. And that figure is undoubted low since telephone surveys traditionally encounter the greatest degree of cover-up of homosexual activity.

June 12, 2007 1:47 PM  
Anonymous GiveMeABreak said...

Randi just loves to argue around the topic when he dead wrong.

CDC totally agrees with the points of the study you cite as the Holsinger source.

Homosexual sex (at least male)is medically the highest risk with MOST endemic maladies studied...gemoetrically higher than general population or any other 'minority.'

The old 'we're undercounted' argument is tired and lame. Guess what--exgays are undercounted by a factor of 20!

June 13, 2007 11:36 AM  
Blogger JimK said...

GiveMe, I am generously assuming you are not the irritating Anon who has been warned already. Randi is a "she." If you accidentally call her "he," we will expect a quick apology immediately afterwards. If you do it intentionally or fail to apologize, I will delete your comment.

Got it?

I'll let this one stand. Next offense goes into the trashcan. Repeat offenses and your IP number gets blocked.


June 13, 2007 11:48 AM  
Blogger Randi Schimnosky said...

"Givemeabreak" the fact is that a study of attendees at an std clinic says nothing about gays who did not need the services of that clinic. You can't say what's true for people found at an STD clinic is true of gays in general and this is what Holsinger did He was blatently dishonest and bias like his has no place in the position of surgeon general

June 13, 2007 1:14 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"what Holsinger did He was blatently dishonest and bias like his has no place in the position of surgeon general"

Might want to get used to him. He'll be the next Surgeon General of the world's most powerful country.

June 14, 2007 9:53 AM  
Blogger Randi Schimnosky said...

Don't count on it.

June 14, 2007 12:33 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You're a hoot, Randi.

When this story goes front page, during confirmation hearings, do you really think Hillary is going to want to be on television, right before an election gets going, telling people she's not voting for someone because he believes the same thing most voters believe?

Get real.

June 14, 2007 12:51 PM  
Blogger Randi Schimnosky said...

Anonymous, according to a recent poll 57% of Americans think being gay is acceptable. That's the majority (I know you're mathematically challenged). Hillary and Obama have already come out and stated that Holsinger is wrong on gays. Ted Kennedy, a gay rights advocate chairs the confirmation committee, its certainly not looking like Holsinger is going to be confirmed.

June 14, 2007 2:44 PM  
Blogger Randi Schimnosky said...

Note here anonymous:

Clinton has promised to vote no to Holsinger

June 14, 2007 2:47 PM  

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