- The Washington Times - Thursday, May 26, 2005

Parents who stopped a new sex-education curriculum in Montgomery County, Maryland are at the nexus of a national trend in parental activism in school matters.

“Montgomery County has become a symbol for parental activism,” said Robert Knight, director of the Culture and Family Institute, an affiliate of Concerned Women for America.

Warren Throckmorton, a psychology professor at Grove City College in Pennsylvania, said parents “are beginning to take matters into their own hands and are looking for ways to collaborate with other like-minded parents to protect their kids.”

Mr. Throckmorton works with former homosexuals and wrote a 51-page critique of the Montgomery County sex-ed course. He said he has heard from parents in Fayetteville, Ark.; Pleasant Valley, Iowa; and Toms River, N.J., who have found objectionable material in school libraries and are challenging their school boards to remove the books.

The Montgomery County school board voted 7-1 Monday to dissolve the curriculum and the citizens committee that approved the course. In November, the board had voted 6-0 to adopt the course.

Curriculum supporters said the course taught tolerance for homosexuals and included factual instruction on how to deal with homosexual feelings.

But parents who formed the group Citizens for a Responsible Curriculum (CRC) said the course promoted homosexuality and promiscuity, disregarded scientifically proven health risks and denigrated traditional, religious views about sex.

A federal judge ruled in CRC’s favor when he granted a temporary restraining order against the course on May 5.

“What this really illustrates is that parents have a particular set of principles and values. They work hard to instill those in the home, and they don’t want this undermined in the health class,” said Melissa Pardue, social welfare policy analyst at the Heritage Foundation.

Mrs. Pardue, who co-wrote “What Do Parents Want Taught in Sex Education Programs?” last year, said the Montgomery County controversy “is the first time we’ve seen national attention to parental concern, but I think this is happening all over the place.”

Julie Underwood, general counsel for the National School Boards Association, said public schools “are at the heart of the culture wars, and you see that played out in curriculum issues.

“For the last few years, we have seen the culture wars escalating quite dramatically,” Miss Underwood said.

The group Advocates for Youth (AFY), which asserts that children are sexual beings and which contributed many of the materials for the discarded curriculum, could not be reached for comment.

Adrienne Verrilli, spokeswoman for the Sexuality Education and Information Council of the United States, which is allied with AFY, said: “I think more conservative people have felt empowered to make moves against the gay and lesbian kids in their schools, given the current environment.”

Parents across the country are taking action against sex-education instruction with which they disagree.

Last month, David Parker was arrested in Lexington, Mass., and spent the night in jail after he refused to leave a meeting with the school principal who refused to take his 6-year-old child out of discussions about same-sex parents.

Parents also are making an impact in the debate over evolution and intelligent design in places such as Dover, Pa.; Bluffton, Ind.; and the state of Kansas, said Albert Mohler, a national evangelical Christian leader and president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Ky.

“Certainly, conservative Christians are at the forefront of this, but are hardly alone. The success of this in Montgomery County is evidence of this. This is blue-state America,” Mr. Mohler said.

“Sex education is a special case. Here you deal with the most intimate details of morality and sexuality and the institution of marriage. This is where parents have the front-line responsibility and concern for their children,” he said.

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