- The Washington Times - Tuesday, May 3, 2005

A parents group yesterday filed a federal lawsuit to stop the Montgomery County public school system from teaching a sex-education course that the group says advocates homosexuality and dismisses religious viewpoints.

“It’s not a curriculum to give kids knowledge. This curriculum is an indoctrination program,” said Rockville lawyer John Garza, vice president of Citizens for a Responsible Curriculum (CRC). “It’s setting forth a viewpoint on sex and homosexuality that goes beyond impartation of knowledge.”

CRC filed suit in U.S. District Court in Greenbelt seeking a temporary injunction to block a pilot program in three middle schools and three high schools. The pilot program was to have begun tomorrow, but a schools spokesman yesterday said it will begin Monday.

“We believe this curriculum takes a reasonable approach to the issue and that everyone’s viewpoints were carefully considered when creating it,” schools spokesman Brian Edwards said.

A hearing on the lawsuit is scheduled for tomorrow before Judge Alexander Williams Jr.

The lawsuit says the curriculum violates students’ free speech rights and the First Amendment protection against the establishment of religion.

“Part of free speech is the right to remain silent,” Mr. Garza said, adding that students who opt out of the course will be assumed to have religious objections or be “ex-gay” by their peers.

“It’s unconstitutional to force people to declare their religious beliefs or their sexual orientation,” he said. “If you’re a Catholic, if you’re a fundamentalist Christian, if you’re a Muslim or a Jew, you gotta go down the hall.”

Parents and Friends of Ex-Gays and Gays (PFOX) is party to the lawsuit with the help of Liberty Counsel, a Christian law and policy organization. The lawsuit catalogs PFOX’s failed attempts to introduce materials as teacher resources for the curriculum.

The advisory committee rejected PFOX materials “discussing the ex-gay perspective” and “explaining that there is no evidence that people are born gay,” the lawsuit states.

The lawsuit charges that the committee approved other teacher resources from groups such as the Family Pride Coalition, which “describes itself as a ‘national, nonprofit organization solely dedicated to equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender parents and their families.’”

It also says the curriculum “conveys the idea that those religions who believe homosexuality is wrong or that people can overcome same-sex attraction are intolerant and hateful.”

David Fishback, who heads the citizens advisory committee that approved the course, called the lawsuit “harassment and a waste of taxpayers’ money.”

“They’re doing it on the eve of the pilot to get publicity, to interfere with the board and to make a political point, which is not what the courts are there to do,” he said.

The county school board approved the curriculum in November, and parents and churches have mounted protest ever since.

The curriculum is scheduled to be tested next week at Bethesda Chevy-Chase High School in Bethesda, Seneca Valley High School in Germantown, Springbrook High School in Silver Spring, Martin Luther King Middle School in Germantown, Tilden Middle School in Rockville and White Oak Middle School in Silver Spring.

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