- The Washington Times - Friday, May 6, 2005

Supporters of Montgomery County public schools’ new sex-education curriculum yesterday expressed confusion — and some outrage — over Superintendent Jerry D. Weast’s decision to suspend the course after a federal judge had ruled against it Thursday.

Members of the county school board, which unanimously approved the course in November, said they will question Mr. Weast about his decision during a closed-door meeting Tuesday.

“We need to have a report on what the superintendent’s thinking was,” said Gabe Romero, a first-term school board member from Gaithersburg. “I would like to understand the factors that made him make that decision. That’s what we need to understand as a board.”

Board member Steve Abrams said: “It will certainly make for some interesting times on the board.”

Meanwhile, some of the people who helped craft the curriculum said they were upset with the superintendent’s decision.

Jill Karpf worked on the citizens advisory board that approved curriculum materials and recommended the course to the school board.

“I think this is a disgrace,” she said yesterday. “It’s an insult to us, it’s an insult to all the teachers who came up with the curriculum, it’s an insult to all the official organizations who understand what’s going on, and so I think there needs to be a strong statement made.”

On Thursday, U.S. District Judge Alexander Williams Jr. granted a 10-day temporary restraining order to halt the teaching of the new course in a pilot program that was to have begun yesterday.

Judge Williams agreed with the two groups that filed the lawsuit — Citizens for a Responsible Curriculum (CRC) and Parents and Friends of Ex-Gays and Gays (PFOX) — who argued that the curriculum is biased toward homosexuality and dismisses religious perspectives on the subject.

The judge, who was appointed in 1994 by President Clinton, said the curriculum likely violates the free speech rights of students who have moral objections to homosexuality because it “presents only one view on the subject — that homosexuality is a natural and morally correct lifestyle — to the exclusion of other perspectives.”

The restraining order placed a 10-day halt on teaching the course, but Mr. Weast decided to suspend the course and a condom demonstration video, pending further review.

The school system offered no further comment on the superintendent’s decision yesterday.

Erik Stanley, the Liberty Counsel lawyer who represented CRC and PFOX, said it is “too soon to say whether [the schools are] throwing in the towel or not.”

Mr. Stanley, whose group was started by Baptist pastor the Rev. Jerry Falwell in 1989, said the restraining order could lapse and give the schools an opportunity to go forward with the course — or the schools could agree to extend the length of the order.

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