- The Washington Times - Saturday, November 20, 2004

The Montgomery County School Board yesterday appointed a Hispanic community advocate to its District 5 seat.

Nancy Navarro, a married mother of two who runs an economic-and-educational development organization for the Hispanic and immigrant community, will serve the remaining two years on the seat of retiring board member Henry Lee, a Derwood dentist.

The board voted 4 to 3 to appoint Mrs. Navarro.

Mary Edwards, a married mother of three and PTA president at Benjamin Banneker Middle School, received three votes.

Patricia O’Neill, the board’s vice president, said she voted for Mrs. Navarro because she would bring a different perspective.

“Her grass-roots experience beyond just PTA is very valuable,” she said.

Mrs. Navarro said her priorities will be finding more money to build schools, narrowing the achievement gap between students who excel and those who do not, and fostering more parental involvement.

Mrs. Navarro said she has not seen revisions to the county’s sex-education curriculum and does not know whether she will vote for countywide implementation of it next fall after the curriculum is tested in six schools this spring.

She said her role is to “listen to the community and weigh information coming from the board,” not to “impose her particular views.”

Under the new curriculum, eighth- and 10th-graders in the pilot schools will be taught that a family is defined as “two or more people who are joined together by emotional feelings or who are related to one another.”

“Same-sex parents” families are listed under the heading, “kinds of families,” along with eight other variations. The new curriculum also goes into great detail about sexuality and “gender identity.” Gender identity is defined as “a person’s internal sense of knowing whether he or she is male or female.” Sexual orientation is defined as “the persistent pattern of physical and/or emotional attraction to members of the same or opposite sex (gender).”

The curriculum also will teach that “most experts in the field have concluded that sexual orientation is not a choice.”

The school system’s Citizen Advisory Committee on Family Life and Human Development, which recommend the revised curriculum, will assess the results of the pilot studies in June and make recommendations to the board for countywide application.

The school board voted 6-0 on Nov. 9 in favor of the recommendations, despite opposition from parents.

The board also approved a video for 10th-graders in which a young female demonstrates how to fit a condom onto a cucumber and talks about the dangers of unprotected sex and cheap condoms that might break.

The board also is considering a video that discusses fruit-flavored condoms.

Since the board’s vote, community outcry has grown, and a consortium of parents is considering an effort to recall the school board but might focus only on repealing the revisions to the sex-education curriculum.

School officials have stressed that parental permission is required for students to receive sex-education instruction. However, teachers, parents and members of the advisory committee have criticized the permission slip as too vague and too long.

The other two candidates interviewed by the board were Philip S. Kaufman, a Department of Veterans Affairs lawyer and father of two Blake High School students, and Leslie Ridgeway, a married mother and a Rockville lawyer.

Incoming member Stephen N. Abrams, who was elected Nov. 2, attended the meeting and asked questions but did not vote because his term does not begin until Dec. 1. The other incoming board member, Valerie Ervin, did not attend.

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