Wednesday, June 27, 2012

No Nonprofit Flyers at MCPS Secondary Schools

As expected, the Montgomery County Public Schools Board of Education has decided not to send home backpack flyers at secondary schools from any nonprofit organizations, rather than tell a nutty anti-gay group that their flyers are inappropriate for students. Scouts, football, wrestling, summer camps, are out of luck.

The Gazette has it.
Next school year, the only Montgomery County students who will receive nonprofit fliers to take home will be those in elementary schools.

The Montgomery County Board of Education voted on Monday to change its policy on “backpack fliers.” Starting in the coming school year, nonprofits will not be allowed to have their fliers distributed to middle school and high school students.

The decision came on a recommendation of the school system’s policy committee, which was given the task of reviewing the policy after a flier sent home by Parents and Friends of Ex-Gays and Gays this school year provoked complaints from some school officials and gay rights advocates.  School system changes its policy on backpack fliers 
The schools have been sending home flyers from Parents and Friends of Ex-Gays and Gays (PFOX) for years. The flyers directly contradict the district's health curriculum and its counseling and personnel policies, but the district felt they had to hand them out in order to avoid a lawsuit.
After a period of public comment, the school board received 25 comments, with about as many in favor of changing the policy as opposed. Most of those who were opposed were members of nonprofit organizations.

Laura Berthiaume (Dist. 2) of Rockville was the only board member to vote against the policy changes Monday, saying the change might negatively impact membership in nonprofits, such as Boy Scouts and youth leagues, and that changing the rules might hurt the school system’s community bond.

Other board members disagreed, saying it is not the school system’s responsibility to provide marketing opportunities for the organizations.
A school is more than a government outpost that provides training in the three R's. It is a community center for a neighborhood, it is where families get together for all kinds of things from science fairs to soccer games and Christmas concerts. The school is where the children of a neighborhood spend their days together, learning to interact, and it is the most salient center for the adults of the area to meet one another and interact, as well.

It is reasonable to expect a school to post flyers about sports, science, and artistic events that affect the students and the community, and it is also reasonable to expect the school to excercise some discretion over what will and will not be sent home with children. There is a rather complicated Constitutional issue with religious materials, but no legal requirement to send home material from homophobic or racist groups.
David S. Fishback, advocacy chair for the Metro D.C. Chapter of Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays, was the only community member to speak about the issue at Monday’s board meeting. The organization regularly distributes fliers to high school students in the county, but will no longer be allowed to.
Is that correct? PFOX sends home flyers almost every quarter, as I understand it, and PFLAG has sent them home a couple of times, to counteract the impact of the other group.

This article appears to conflate the two groups. I know from talking to people in the community that it is hard to distinguish between the anti-gay group and the group that supports families of gays and lesbians, especially since PFOX picked a name intentionally similar to PFLAG's. PFLAG's message is supportive and is consistent with MCPS curriculum and policy.

This ruling affects middle schools and high schools only.
 Under law, the school system is not able to pick which nonprofit’s fliers it sends home, so the system must allow all or none. Some board members said they are concerned the change might result in a distribution shift of what some see as offensive fliers to the elementary school level.
No, the school system can pick and choose. It cannot discriminate against a religion, for instance by banning flyers for a Sunday school or Bible camp, but the district's lawyers came up with the "we can't choose" solution as a way to avoid litigation. The lesson to students is that when you are forced with a difficult decision that may have consequences, you should declare yourself not-responsible and get out of the situation as cleanly as possible.


Anonymous David S. Fishback said...

This is the full testimony I presented at the June 25 BOE meeting.


Good evening. I speak on behalf of the Metro DC Chapter of Parents, Families, and Friends of Lesbians and Gays.

PFLAG understands the desire to eliminate the secondary school flyer distribution program, given the current state of the law and misuse of that program by a group touting “therapies” for gay people – therapies that have been rejected as dangerous by every mainstream American medical and mental health professional association.

In light of the legitimate concerns that led to the action that the Board is likely to take later this evening, it is odd that the current secondary school health education curriculum neither addresses the issue of “reparative therapy,” nor allows health teachers to tell students that being gay is not an illness unless a student specifically asks about it. Since straight, as well as gay, students need this information in order to lessen bullying, this enforced silence is dangerous.

This is why the Montgomery County Commission on Children and Youth recently urged MCPS to include in the curriculum the recommendations earlier made by the Board’s own Citizens Advisory Committee on Family Life and Human Development and MCPS’s own health advisors from the Maryland Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics. As Commission Chair Jane de Winter wrote in the Commission’s letter to Dr. Starr and President Brandman, “Teachers need to be able to speak the truth about sexual orientation to ensure that all students are valued and feel safe at school.”

The Commission’s letter and my June 20 letter to Dr. Starr and President Brandman are attached to this testimony.

This part of the curriculum has been unchanged since its implementation five years ago. It is clear that the recommendations of the Commission, the Citizens Advisory Committee, and the American Academy of Pediatrics need to be followed. There is no reason to delay action on this important matter.

June 27, 2012 2:42 PM  
Anonymous Robert said...

Some people's misbehavior ruins it for everyone.

June 28, 2012 8:07 AM  
Anonymous Robert said...

Court upholds individual mandate, under Congress' taxing power.

June 28, 2012 12:12 PM  
Blogger Priya Lynn said...

Robert said "Court upholds individual mandate, under Congress' taxing power.".

A bunch of Americans are threatening to move to Canada, due to the ruling. Stop laughing, all you snooty elite East Coast “knowing things about Canada” liberals. They’re really upset. So upset.

June 28, 2012 2:08 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"The schools have been sending home flyers from Parents and Friends of Ex-Gays and Gays (PFOX) for years."

and it hasn't done a thing to deter the gay agenda, so why is it such a priority to stop it?

the MC government is an embarassment from any perspective

June 29, 2012 10:37 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Court upholds individual mandate, under Congress' taxing power"

so, again, Barack Obama is raising taxes

I had actually considered Roberts' reasoning a few times but hoped no one else would

anyway, the Supreme Court has now given Americans a reason to elect Republicans in November

it will change everything

June 29, 2012 10:40 AM  
Anonymous Robert said...

Exodus International president Alan Chambers says anyone who still believes in and supports reparative therapy will no longer be permitted to minister with Exodus

June 29, 2012 11:44 AM  
Blogger Priya Lynn said...

Exodus sees the writing on the wall.

June 29, 2012 2:08 PM  
Blogger Priya Lynn said...

Bad anonymous said "anyway, the Supreme Court has now given Americans a reason to elect Republicans in November it will change everything".

If the U.S. supreme court had struck down Obamacare you'd be saying the same thing. As we saw in the 2006 elections and the 2008 presidential race it doesn't matter how much bad news happens for republicans you'll stick your head in the sand and claim it all means republicans are going to win.

In fact, Americans love a winner and this is a sign of affirmation and strength for Obama. Opinion polls since have shown increasing support for Obamacare, this is a net positive for Obama and is going to gain him votes in November. Romney has got to pray for the economy to worsen or he's going to lose.

June 30, 2012 2:10 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Recently a number of anti-bullying initiatives have sprouted up across the U.S., and some people have accused Christians who hold to a biblical standard of heterosexual, monogamous marriage of being bigots. In April, for example, Dan Savage, a gay anti-bullying activist and sex columnist, came under fire for making offensive comments about the Bible at a journalism conference and then mocking a group of Christian high school students for leaving during his speech.

Chambers says the church's poor behavior toward the gay community in the past has created the negative attitude that many homosexuals feel toward Christianity today. Still, he believes churches should do something to take a stand against bullying as well.

"When it comes to bullying initiatives, the church should be the first to step up to the plate and say, 'We're going to create our own anti-bullying initiative. We're going to have zero tolerance when it comes to bullying, and gay jokes and the things that make people feel less than,'" he said.

He also believes that Christians have become known more for what they are against than what they support, and says it is more important to let people know that God is in favor of healthy marriages and relationships than that He is simply against homosexual behavior. Those who have same-sex attractions need to be told, and shown, that Christ loves them."

In other words, Chambers does not support bullies going around calling LGBT people "deviants." Well, it's a start.

July 01, 2012 10:09 AM  
Anonymous Nikki said...

Why the Montgomery County Public Schools Board of Education takes this decision, I hope they can review this one again...

non profit education requirements

July 07, 2012 2:00 AM  

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