- The Washington Times - Monday, December 19, 2005

The chairwoman of a new advisory committee on sex education for Montgomery County public schools said her panel will not hold substantive meetings until school officials devise a curriculum that can be reviewed.

The schools “have said what our job is, and that is to advise. Once there is a curriculum, we can do that,” said Carol Plotsky, medical staff president at Shady Grove Hospital and advisory committee chairwoman.

Dr. Plotsky’s 15-member panel was scheduled to meet last night. The school system plans to deliver a new curriculum to the committee in March.

Last year, the previous 27-member committee created a sex-education curriculum that a federal judge eventually ruled was biased in favor of homosexuality and discriminated against traditional religious views on the subject.

Schools Superintendent Jerry D. Weast scrapped the curriculum and the committee that created it.

Mr. Weast has taken charge of creating a new course and forming the new panel.

The advisory committee primarily is composed of doctors and representatives of special-interest groups, including a national abortion rights group, a homosexual rights group and a national conservative Christian lobby.

Committee member James Kennedy, co-founder of Teachthefacts.org, a local parents group, said he does not think the meetings would be contentious, despite comments he has made on the group’s Web log about fellow member Peter Sprigg.

Mr. Sprigg, policy director for the conservative Christiangroup Family Research Council, has written a book titled “Outrage: How Gay Activists and Liberal Judges Are Trashing Democracy to Redefine Marriage.”

When Mr. Kennedy learned of Mr. Sprigg’s nomination to the committee last summer, he wrote that Mr. Sprigg was a “big-time, dyed in the wool nut” who “sets the standard for everything that is despicable.”

Yesterday, Mr. Kennedy said that while he thinks Mr. Sprigg’s “viewpoint is malicious … there’s only one of him.”

“We’ll have differences of opinion, and that’s a good thing,” said Mr. Kennedy, a research psychologist at the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Mr. Sprigg said he was “trying not to prejudge the individuals who are serving on the committee.”

“It does concern me that this new committee may also have a liberal bias, as I think the previous one clearly did,” he said. “But I certainly am looking forward to forming relationships with all the members of the committee.”

Mr. Sprigg said Mr. Kennedy’s comments at a recent community forum “gave me some hope that there may be some common ground between us. But we’ll see as the process goes on.”

The panel will play a much less significant role than last year’s, which proposed and approved numerous materials that were to be used as teacher resources.

“The clues have been that it’s not going to have a very big role,” Mr. Kennedy said.

“I think it’s a good idea for the [school] board to take control of the process,” he added. “They’re educators. They understand what their goals are here.”

One committee seat is unfilled. The parents group Citizens for a Responsible Curriculum (CRC) is embroiled in a dispute with the school system over its representative and is seeking legal advice.

CRC President Michelle Turner said she believes the new committee’s role will be “limited” and “marginalized.”

She said greater school control over the sex-ed course could be good or bad, “depending on the outcome.”

“If they take a more accurate and less political position on materials, it’s a good thing. If they decide to continue with political advocacy, then there’s a problem,” she said.

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