Thursday, January 17, 2008

Oral Arguments Yesterday

Yesterday some of us went down to the courthouse in Rockville and watched lawyers give oral arguments. The Citizens for a Responsible Whatever want the court to force the State Board of Education to answer all of their whining complaints about the new sex-ed curriculum. The state board looked at it already and said it was okay; in general they said that Montgomery County knows what they're doing, they didn't see any reason here to step in and tell them how to write a curriculum.

There is a technical argument at the heart of this. The question is whether the state board was acting in a quasi-judiciary or quasi-legislative capacity when they ruled. The answer to the question determines whether it is appropriate to take these kinds of issues to a court. If they were interpreting law in their decision, then they were acting in a quasi-judiciary way and the CRW can appeal in court. If they were just implementing policy, then they can't.

It's not that interesting to me, either, but that's how the CRW is trying to push it into the courts. The school district basically says there's already a way to deal with these things. The state board oversees the county boards, and if they screw up the state makes them fix things. If parents and citizens don't like it, they can elect different school boards. You don't go to court every time your kid gets an unfair grade, or if you don't like the way a math teacher proves a theorem, or nothing would get done.

Several reporters were there yesterday. The Post seems to have come out with it first.
A six-year battle over the content of a new sex education curriculum in Montgomery County schools came down to two questions posed yesterday in a Rockville courtroom: Can the school board legally teach students that homosexuality is innate? And can the lessons discuss sex acts other than copulation?

Montgomery educators are defending the new curriculum, approved by the school board last summer, which addresses sexual orientation as a classroom topic for the first time. The lessons place the county at the fore of a trend among some of the nation's public schools toward more candor in discussing homosexuality. But they have prompted a strenuous challenge from religious conservatives who see the curriculum as a one-sided endorsement of homosexuality.

Until now, opposition has focused on the constitutional rights of Montgomery families whose religious beliefs do not abide homosexuality. But with yesterday's hearing before Circuit Court Judge William Rowan III, an attorney for the plaintiffs narrowed his focus to a few words in the disputed lessons. Sex-Ed Dispute Aired in Court

The two questions are a little different from that. Nobody used the word "copulation." The second question is whether telling students to use a condom for oral and anal sex breaks the law against teaching "erotic techniques." Oral and anal sex are not "discussed" in any classes, beyond telling students to wear a condom if they do that, which is good medical advice.

The judge has taken the matter under advisement, which I'm told means he'll issue an opinion at some time, which may be in two weeks or two months, you never know.

There's more in the story - follow the link.

This just in: The Examiner has it, too.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Uh oh...the title here "discuss[es] sex acts other than copulation" in much the same way the new condom video does, by simply mentioning it. Is mentioning something the same thing as "discussing" it or "teaching about" it? I don't think so!

And Mr. Bolling was great at framing. He used the words "innate" and "immutable" together every time as if they are used that way in the curriculum. Thanks to Mr. Frankel for pointing out the fact that the word "immuatable" is not used in the curriculum revision anywhere. Shame on Mr. Bolling for his attempts to try to fool the judge.

January 17, 2008 3:51 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

andrea-not anon
Well, if saying a word constitutes teaching the topic- that explains to me why CRW are so dumb.

January 17, 2008 6:01 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

can the lessons discuss sex acts other than copulation?

It's just indescribably funny that this is even a question. Are there sex acts other than copulation that people engage in? Do we want a bunch of teenagers believing that they are not, in fact, sex acts? How would this benefit them, exactly?

The stupidity is simply breathtaking.

January 17, 2008 7:01 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"And Mr. Bolling was great at framing. He used the words "innate" and "immutable" together every time as if they are used that way in the curriculum."

I've seen TTFers use the terms interchangeably on numerour occasions.

Did you know that there is a Maryland law that says that things taught in school must be factual? Innate homosexuality doesn't qualify.:

"Brandon Bolling, a lawyer from the Thomas More Law Center in Ann Arbor, Mich., challenged a passage in the 90-minute lessons that describes homosexuality as innate. That assertion, he said, violates a provision of a state law that says school curricula must be factual.

That sexual orientation is innate is a theory that has been rejected by courts in several states, Bolling said. "The Maryland law says you have to teach something that is factually accurate," he said. "They are not doing that. That is illegal.""

January 17, 2008 8:02 PM  
Blogger JimK said...

I've seen TTFers use the terms interchangeably on numerour occasions.

OK, ftb, link us to one instance of this.

Or go back and read THIS.


January 17, 2008 8:16 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


This blog is too much of a haystack to find a pin like that. It happens all the time though. I'm sure it will again. I'll remind you when it does.

All of this is a diversion though. There is no evidence that homosexuality is innate and most experts theorize that postnatal factors, at the very least, contribute to these type of aberrant desires.

Bolling is right.

January 17, 2008 8:24 PM  
Blogger BlackTsunami said...


if you claim that TFFers uses the terms interchangeably, then it seems to me that you should have had proof of this claim beforehand.

And now you claim that while "it happens all of the time," you can't search to find evidence of it.

Your verbal and semantic gymnastic lesson is indicative of CRW and folks on your side of the issue.

You keep twisting and turning like that, you are going to tie yourself in a knot.

January 17, 2008 9:26 PM  
Blogger Priya Lynn said...

Red Baron said "There is no evidence that homosexuality is innate and most experts theorize that postnatal factors, at the very least, contribute to these type of aberrant desires.".

The desires are not aberrant, they're normal for a minority of the population. There is a great deal of evidence that suggests sexual orientation is innate. Gays differ from straights in patterns of finger lengths, hair whorls, blood types, handedness, brain structures, production of and reaction to pheremones, hearing, eyeblink rates, mental abilities in spatial relations, verbal abilities, walking style, and not to mention probably a dozen or other biological factors that I've forgotten. As well mothers of gays are more likely to have same chromosome deactivation and the more older biological brothers a boy has the more likely they are to be gay.

Any one of these studies might be questionable on its own, but taken as a whole it would be WAY too much of a coincidence for gayness not to be biological and innate.

January 17, 2008 9:45 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

How many of those studies have been replicated, Randi?

Kind of like when you "read" the whole Bible and find what you are looking for so do these researchers. Truth is, even if substantiated, these results show nothing more than slight tendencies that might combine with more substantial environmental factors to cause people to gravitate toward irrational and harmful attractions.

Much, much tighter is the link between gays and the entry into our society of new incurable, fatal diseases. That's proof of rampant, random promiscuity among the gay population with a correlation greater by many factors than any biological tendencies toward this dangerous behavior.

January 17, 2008 10:16 PM  
Blogger BlackTsunami said...

excuse me slurpster,

you are going to have do to better than repeating the propaganda of the anti-gay industry of homosexuality being a "dangerous behavior."

Please elucidate what you mean. And I should warn you about that recent study regarding the staph infection. The CDC just made an official statement today saying, amongst other things, the following:

"The strains of MRSA described in the recent Annals of Internal Medicine have mostly been identified in certain groups of men who have sex with men (MSM), but have also been found in some persons who are not MSM. It is important to note that the groups of MSM in which these isolates have been described are not representative of all MSM, so conclusions can not be drawn about the prevalence of these strains among all MSM. The groups studied in this report may share other characteristics or behaviors that facilitate spread of MRSA, such as frequent skin-to-skin contact."

To paraphrase Burt Lancaster, match me,slurpster

January 17, 2008 11:32 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

slurpster said...
"How many of those studies have been replicated, Randi?"

Indeed, and in addition, clearly the only studies that can be trusted are those that have been conducted by anti-gay bigots. Such as the Exodus/Jones and Yarhouse study for example, which equates celibacy with heterosexuality. Thus proving once and for all that 100% of gays can "change" 100% of the time.

It doesn’t take a genius to figure out that truth is based on the amount of people who believe with you.

As I’m sure slurpster would acknowledge, If he/she were the ONLY person in the entire universe who believed that the Bible was the inerrant word of God, he/she would still defend the truth of it with the vociferousness that he/she does now.

Isn’t that right slurpster?

January 18, 2008 7:28 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think slurpster, btf and Red Baron are all the same person.


January 18, 2008 10:23 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Slurpster, are you trying to say that promiscuous behavior is innate to the gay population? Doesn't that undermine your entire argument?

Please, try not to be so sloppy.

January 18, 2008 11:37 AM  
Blogger Priya Lynn said...

Red Baron said "Truth is, even if substantiated, these results show nothing more than slight tendencies that might combine with more substantial environmental factors to cause people to gravitate toward irrational and harmful attractions.".

The fact is Red Baron that based on study after study like these
the vast marjority of scientists agree that gayness is biologically caused and innate. The only people who disagree are those who've decided for religious reasons to conclude in advance that it isn't. Those people obviously aren't objective.

Perhaps 80 or 90 studies over the last 50 years have overwhelmingly shown that same sex attractions are neither irrational or harmful.

Fact is, despite all their ranting about it, anti-gay religionists have absolutely nothing to back up their baseless and contraindicated theory that family dynamics cause gayness. And many, many examples of gay people who didn' experience what they say are causative family dynamics and straights who did, prove that theory false unequivocably.

January 18, 2008 12:27 PM  
Blogger Priya Lynn said...

Robert said "I think slurpster, btf and Red Baron are all the same person.".

Clearly. Red Baron doesn't want to be associated with the embarrasing legacy of lies, tortured logic, and nonsense he spouted under that name so he's trying to pretend to be someone else. Only those who are ashamed of their past try to hide from it.

January 18, 2008 12:56 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The court case is pretty narrow now, since the first thing Bolling did when he stood up was to EXPLICITLY abandon all of CRC's constitutional and other arguments other than the challenge to the word "innate" and the challenge to the condom instructional video -- not to the video as a whole, but to the mere fact that it mentions oral and anal sex as times when a condom should be worn. To this observer, that was the most significant thing about the hearing -- it seemed that even CRC's lawyers had concluded that all of the spaghetti they had thrown against the wall had failed to stick.

With respect to "innate" versus "immutable" -- I think it's clear that the court is not going to get into the debate about where orientation comes from at all. If I understood right, the question was what exactly the curriculum being challenged says. CRC's lawyer kept slipping in the word "immutable," which never actually appears in the curriculum. Even when it uses the word "innate," the curriculum defines that word rather openly, admitting that orientation is the product of MANY factors, at least SOME of which may be present at birth. I don't think that even the pro-CRC commenters here would disagree with that. PFLAG's lawyer was right to point out that CRC's lawyer was distorting the content of the curriculum and saying that it taught things that weren't in there.

I'd love to hear from others about what they think will happen. The judge gave positive feedback to both sides, and the school's lawyer got a little bogged down, but I think PFLAG's lawyer crystallized things in a way the judge seemed to buy into. I think it's ultimately going to come down to whether the judge feels like ruling for CRC will open the courthouse door to zillions of parent challenges (on every side of the political spectrum) to supposed factual inaccuracies in the curriculum whenever the schools teach controversial topics.

January 18, 2008 1:17 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I know that the reporters have had to use somewhat tortured language in discussing the testimony, but what do the state regs actually say about either "teaching erotic techniques" or discussing sexual activity that is not procreative?

From what I can tell, CRC is trying to argue that any mention of the fact that people do things that are not procreative in nature is equivalent to "teaching an erotic technique." It would follow, then, that discussing the fact of heterosexual intercourse is explicitly not teaching an erotic technique.

Aside from being a pretty lame legal argument, this introduces all sorts of amusing conjecture regarding their sex lives.

Anonymous, I hope you're wrong about the basis of the ruling. That's a terrible reason for coming to a correct conclusion. If there actually is factually inaccurate content in a curriculum, people should be able to challenge it. In this case, as you have incontrovertibly demonstrated, there is nothing factually inaccurate. To make that claim, CRC must make up something that isn't there. It seems pretty straightforward.

January 18, 2008 2:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't have the exact language of the state regulations (maybe someone with the briefs does), but they were quoted at the hearing. Basically, they say that in designing a sex ed course, a county board may not "teach erotic technique." The regulations aren't framed in terms of "going beyond procreation" or anything like that; that came from the parties' arguments about whether the State Board of Education defined "erotic technique" adequately when it found that MoCo wasn't crazy when it said the condom video wasn't erotic.

As for the basis of the judge's decision ... I would be surprised if the opinion WASN'T based on the idea that there would be a flood of lawsuits if CRC's suit succeeded. The judge basically asked CRC's lawyer outright whether he thought parents could run to court every time they thought something being taught was inaccurate -- including if there was a typo in the answer to a math problem. And that's probably the right rule, even though I personally would find it frustrating if the shoe were on the other foot and a school board in some other part of the state adopted a curriculum that CRC wanted. I don't like the idea of a single judge here or there sitting over a school board's shoulders and line editing the curriculum word by word. A school board is more politically accountable.

Though I suppose that if a school board really started teaching reparative therapy or the ex-gay perspective as fact, it could be challenged on Establishment Clause grounds ...

January 18, 2008 2:42 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

David W said "what do the state regs actually say about either "teaching erotic techniques" or discussing sexual activity that is not procreative?...CRC is trying to argue that any mention of the fact that people do things that are not procreative in nature is equivalent to "teaching an erotic technique."

Here is the text of COMAR on erotic techniques:

(b) Other aspects of sexual behavior related to Focus Area Three shall be offered in an identifiable elective course. A student who chooses this course shall have the prior consent of the student's parents/guardians. The elective course may be taught separately to boys and girls, but shall include the same information for both groups. It shall be offered several times each school year to make it available to as many students as possible. Erotic techniques of human intercourse may not be discussed. All instruction shall be objective and carefully supervised.

The State Board of Education's ruling on the suers' claim that the curriculum revisions violated this rule states:

The regulations [COMAR] do not define "erotic techniques." While it may be that what is erotic is in the eye of the beholder, to be definitionally classified as "erotic" requires "sexually arousing or suggestive symbolism, settings, allusion." See Random House Dictionary of the English Language, (2nd Ed. Unabridged) at 659. The local Board has concluded that the content of the condom lesson does not contain erotic techniques.

There is nothing about procreation in any of these definitions. Further, CRC fully supports the existing MCPS curriculum on Human Sexuality, a curriculum which includes a condom demonstration film called "Hope is Not a Method." In that film, the narrator tells students:

Condoms not only prevent pregnancies but they are the only method that prevents the spread of sexually transmissible diseases like syphilis, gonorrhea, herpes, condyloma, and of course, HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. Now we’re going to be talking about other methods of birth control as well but remember, whether you’re having vaginal, oral, or anal sex, condoms should be used to protect both you and your partner.

CRC supports the mention of oral and anal sex in the existing condom demonstration film, but not in the newly revised one.

January 18, 2008 3:36 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh my. That is pretty damning information.

Thank you.

January 18, 2008 6:44 PM  

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