- The Washington Times - Sunday, May 8, 2005

Montgomery County Public Schools won’t be able to force a controversial, one-sided sex-education curriculum on area students, at least not this school year. A federal judge, Alexander Williams, Jr., a Clinton appointee, has issued a temporary restraining order against the curriculum, saying it imperils parents’ and childrens’ First Amendment and Establishment Clause rights. It’s heartening that a Clinton appointee in one of the country’s most liberal counties can see a constitutionally suspect program of indoctrination for what it is, and move to make Montgomery County take its responsibilities to parents and students more seriously.

If any doubt remained that the sex-ed curriculum was in fact indoctrination, Judge Williams demolished it. As he shows, the curriculum violates the very heart and soul of the Constitution’s protections of freedom of speech and freedom of religion.

For one, it ventures into sectarian theological disputes over homosexuality where government simply doesn’t belong. “Theological and Biblical scholars continue to differ on many Biblical interpretations,” the curriculum asserts. “They agree on one thing, however. Jesus said absolutely nothing at all about homosexuality.” Why government should be weighing in on what Jesus did or did not say was unclear to Judge Williams, as it is to us.

The problem was widespread throughout the curriculum, even going so far as to endorse certain churches over others. In some sections, the curriculum attempts to portray some churches’ views as theologically sound and others as unsound. “Fortunately,” it reads in one passage, “many within organized religions are beginning to address the homophobia of the church. The Nation [sic] Council of Churches of Christ, the Union of American Hebrew Congregations, the Unitarian Universalist Association, the Society of Friends (Quakers), and the Universal Fellowship of Metropolitan Community Churches support full civil rights for gay men and lesbians, as they do for everyone else.”

Elsewhere, it endorses the position of the Anglican Church of Canada and singles out Baptists for scorn. “Religion has often been misused to justify hatred and oppression. Less than half a century ago, Baptist churches (among others) in this country defended racial segregation on the basis that it was condoned by the Bible,” it asserts.

“The Revised Curriculum plainly portrays Baptist churches as wrongly expressing the same intolerance [sic] attitude toward homosexuals today as they did toward African Americans during segregation,” Judge Williams writes. “The strength [of] Defendants’ substantive theological arguments are irrelevant — it is their exclusive nature that the Court finds troubling.”

‘The public interest is served by preventing Defendants from promoting particular religious beliefs in the public schools and preventing Defendants from disseminating one-sided information on a controversial topic,” Judge Williams wrote. He also noted that the curriculum manifests “viewpoint discrimination,” which occurs “when government restrictions ‘target not subject matter but particular views taken by speakers on a subject.’” In such cases ” ‘the violation of the First Amendment is all the more blatant,’ ” the ruling said.

Among the most interesting aspects of Judge Williams’ opinion is that it reasons from the reigning liberal judicial philosophies promoting separation of church and state, not from conservatism. As he quotes Felix Frankfurter opining on public schools’ role regarding the Establishment Clause: “Designed to serve as perhaps the most powerful agency for promoting cohesion among a hetergeneous democratic people, the public school must keep scrupulously free from entanglement in the strife of sects. The preservation of the community from divisive conflicts, of Government from irreconcilable pressures by religious groups, of religion from censorship and coercion however subtly exercised, requires strict confinement of the State to instruction other than religious, leaving to the individual’s church and home, indoctrination of the faith of his church.”

From a common-sense perspective, this ruling is a huge relief. This sex-ed curriculum teaches children, among other things, that “morality is a more subjective issue.” Elsewhere, it teaches that people “form a variety of [sexual] relationships lasting from one night to many years,” an apparent blind eye to promiscuity. It’s worth noting the inspiration for such moral obtuseness: At least in part, it comes from Alfred C. Kinsey. Kinsey is the sex researcher who once declined to report a pedophile to police. In the words of columnist John Leo, the pedophile “kept detailed records of his child rapes, including those of a baby of 5 months and a 4-year-old he sexually manipulated for 24 hours.” Kinsey and his supporters saw nothing wrong with this. The curriculum calls his research “landmark.”

Some conservatives will point out that it was regettable that the curriculum ended up in federal court, and we are sympathetic to that argument. Now that it has, however, at least Montgomery County will have to take its duty to parents and children more seriously. It can’t expect to fob a radical curriculum on its students just because its sexperts want to.

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