- The Washington Times - Tuesday, December 14, 2004

A group of Montgomery County parents yesterday asked the school board to delay implementation of a pilot sex-education program this spring that teaches homosexuality is genetically predetermined and that same-sex couples are one type of family.

Board members said the pilot program would go forward.

“The whole point of the pilot is to get public discussion and review, and we’re moving forward with the pilot,” said Sharon Cox, Germantown Democrat, who yesterday was replaced as president of the board by Patricia O’Neill, Bethesda Democrat.

Michelle Turner of Citizens for Responsible Curriculum testified to the board at its monthly meeting that a “broad and diverse membership of concerned parents” want a sex-education curriculum that is “more representative, responsive and moderate.”

Mrs. Turner, the mother of four public school students, asked the board to allow for “additional review and public discourse before any such changes are implemented.”

Board members Gabe Romero, Gaithersburg Democrat, and Stephen Abrams, Rockville Republican, agreed with Ms. Cox that the pilot would go forward this spring in six schools before the board votes on countywide implementation for the fall. Those six schools have not yet been announced.

Two parents testified in favor of the new curriculum, which will be taught to eighth- and tenth-graders.

“Many believe that the teaching of moral values about sexual behavior belongs in the home and/or religious institution, and are grateful that the basic facts about human sexuality will now be more completely covered in the classroom,” said Christine Grewell of Silver Spring, a mother of an eighth-grader. Mrs. Grewell is organizing a group in favor of the changes.

The new curriculum will teach that homosexuality is not a choice, according to most authorities on the subject, that a young person’s “gender identity” is “a person’s internal sense of knowing whether you are male or female,” and that “sex play with friends of the same gender is not uncommon among early adolescents.”

It will also add “same-sex parents” to the list of types of families. In the past, teachers could not discuss homosexuality unless asked by a student.

The school board voted 6-to-0 on Nov. 9 to test the curriculum, sparking a strong reaction from parents opposed to it. Parental response in favor of the curriculum has also been strong, mostly in the form of e-mails to the board. The sex-ed program opponents met earlier this month at a community center to plan their anti-curriculum strategy.

Proponents of the curriculum have lauded the board for teaching students about what they say are sexual realities.

Mrs. Turner, who is part of the 27-member Citizens Advisory Committee that recommended the new curriculum, has said along with a few other members of the committee that they presented scientific data that contradicted some of the new material, and that it was ignored.

Warren Throckmorton of Grove City College has published a 35-page scientific critique of the new curriculum that says the portion on “same-gender attraction is based on a theoretical orientation, called essentialism, which does not represent a singular consensus of opinion in the social sciences and research community.”

The report also states that the curriculum uses documents “provided by advocacy organizations” and omits “scientific information, published in peer-review journals, which differ from the positions of these political advocacy organizations.”

Mrs. Grewell called Mr. Throckmortion’s findings “junk science” because it was not published in a “peer-reviewed, scientific journal.”

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