- The Washington Times - Sunday, December 5, 2004

Montgomery County parents met yesterday to organize against changes in the public school system’s sex-education curriculum in which students are told that homosexuality is not a choice and that same-sex couples are one form of a family.

About 75 county residents, most of them parents, met in Kensington at the unheated Kenmont Swim and Tennis Club. Several people who favor the new curriculum also spoke at the meeting.

After more than two hours, the group decided upon the name Citizens for Responsible Curriculum and agreed upon several goals for the next several months.

“I think these folks are in for the long haul, and this curriculum is going to be a top priority,” said Michelle Turner, who has led opposition to the changes in sex education. “This has the possibility of gaining a lot of momentum.”

Mrs. Turner, of Kensington, also said she was surprised by the turnout, especially during a holiday season weekend.

“Fifty people would have been a lot,” she said. “People have lives. Weekends are very precious to them. To give up three hours is very impressive.”

Members of the new group said their main goals are to schedule a public hearing with the school board, begin a public relations campaign and organize a coalition of county groups that oppose the curriculum.

Mrs. Turner, who has four children in the school system, said the group wants to work with mosques, synagogues, Christian churches, nonreligious groups and ethnic communities. Long-term goals include raising money, forming a nonprofit lobbying organization and promoting candidates for the county school board.

The group has complaints about specific parts of the new curriculum, which will be tested this spring in six secondary schools before residents vote on it in the summer.

One complaint is a line in the curriculum that “sex play among friends of the same gender is not uncommon during adolescence.” They also oppose the general tone of the curriculum, which they say was created by a 27-member citizens advisory committee with an agenda to promote homosexuality.

Peter Gray and Nancy Greenfield, of Silver Spring, support the curriculum and participated in what was, at times, a heated and emotional debate on the morality and science of homosexuality.

Mrs. Greenfield said she has homosexual friends with children and did not understand why the topic was “so terrifying to so many people.” Mr. Gray, her husband, told the group: “If you don’t think this is a public health issue, then you are missing something.”

Mr. Gray and Mrs. Greenfield, along with a few others, left the meeting early out of frustration. Mrs. Greenfield said she was disgusted by the hatred of the group. Mr. Gray said he was angered by a statement that “sodomy kills people.” He thought fear more than hatred was motivating people.

“We obviously have to get organized,” Mrs. Greenfield said. “I think it’s unfortunately a little more dangerous than we think.”

Members of the group have scheduled a Jan. 10 meeting with school board members Sharon Cox and Stephen N. Abrams and perhaps Montgomery County Council member Mike Knapp. They also plan an official meeting for Jan. 15.

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