- The Washington Times - Tuesday, April 12, 2005

A group of Montgomery County parents yesterday presented the school board with 3,500 signatures opposing a new sex-education curriculum.

The signatures “represent a growing concern over your recent decisions to introduce materials and topics to our schoolchildren that many families find objectionable, with no reasonable or acceptable alternative,” said Michelle Turner, president of Citizens for Responsible Curriculum (CRC).

She said many signatures were collected at Catholic and evangelical Christian churches and that the group also is working with area Hindus and Muslims.

Three other CRC members also testified. The group’s main complaint against the new curriculum is that it does not discuss moral objections to homosexuality or the related health risks.

Art Fabel, representing the newly formed Montgomery County Progressive Alliance, a grass-roots political group, testified in favor of the curriculum. The alliance was formerly called Montgomery County for Kerry.

“One group is sticking to a very narrow set of beliefs, not realizing the diversity of opinions and beliefs in this country, not realizing that people of any faith, any belief can still be moral,” Mr. Fabel said after his testimony.

There has been a strong community response to the curriculum on both sides.

More than 600 e-mails and letters have been sent to the board since it voted unanimously Nov. 9 to approve the testing of the sex-education curriculum. Most of the correspondence has been in support of the curriculum, said a school administrator.

The curriculum will be taught in three middle schools and three high schools this month. The board will vote on countywide approval of the curriculum this summer.

Most of the criticism has focused on the treatment of homosexuality and abstinence because the curriculum also teaches that homosexuality is not a choice.

Critics also say the only mention of religion is a Planned Parenthood text that states the Anglican Church of Canada blesses same-sex unions.

In the eighth-grade curriculum, students will “discuss how you develop your sexual identity.” Sexual identity is described as having three parts — sexual orientation, gender role and gender identity, which is “one’s internal sense of knowing whether he or she is male or female.”

Citizens for Responsible Curriculum members have also protested a condom-demonstration video that was approved in November for mandatory countywide instruction, which they say belittles abstinence.

Members of Teach the Facts.org, a parents group in favor of the curriculum, say the curriculum simply acknowledges that homosexual students exist and teaches students who are already sexually active about how to prevent pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases.

Mrs. Turner said in her testimony that board members have refused to meet with group members, but told the board that she hopes “that as you review these petitions, you would realize there is nothing to lose and plenty to gain by meeting us halfway.”

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