- The Washington Times - Thursday, February 17, 2005

Schools and former homosexuals

We agree with Fairfax County School Board member Stephen M. Hunt that Fairfax County public schools should host ex-homosexual speakers (“Sex-ed battles raging in region,” Page 1, Feb. 10). Our experience as ex-homosexual representatives shows that the schools have a history of discriminating against the ex-homosexual community.

Three years ago, then-Superintendent Daniel Domenech met with two homosexual groups to implement homosexual-themed presentations and materials throughout the schools. However, he refused to meet with ex-homosexual representatives. As a result, Fairfax County public schools have promoted homosexual issues while censoring former homosexuals.

For example, James Madison High School invited a homosexual to address students on homosexuals and adoption rights. The speaker was formerly married with children but now lives with a man. Because he and his male companion cannot have children together, he spoke about why he thinks they and other same-sex couples should be allowed to adopt children. Yet when we asked the principal to grant equal access to an ex-homosexual speaker, the principal refused.

In addition, history students had the opportunity to gain extra credit if they attended discussions held by a homosexual group, but our former-homosexual group was excluded. The principal did not give any parental notification of these speakers, so parents were unaware of what their children were being taught. Nor was this topic reviewed by the Family Life Education Curriculum Advisory Council.

The ex-homosexual community deserves tolerance and equal treatment. Fairfax County schools should not promote some sexual groups (homosexuals, bisexuals and the transgendered) while discriminating against others (ex-homosexuals). We urge the School Board to allow ex-homosexual speakers and presentations immediately.

REGINA GRIGGS

Executive director

Parents and Friends of Ex-Gays & Gays

Fort Belvoir

Making retirement easier

In a recent column, Cal Thomas referred to the RIC-E Trust, which can turn a $5,000 contribution for a baby into $2.4 million by the time that baby is 65 (“Take care of yourself” Commentary, Sunday).

By comparison, workers who contribute 10 percent of their pay to a company retirement plan often enter retirement with only a quarter of that amount. Why is the RIC-E Trust so much more effective at building retirement wealth? Simple: It lets you compound interest for as many as 65 years instead of just 20 to 40 years.

However, one of your readers doesn’t like the idea. In his Tuesday letter, “Don’t over-protect grandchildren,” Bob Tedesco frets that I earn $300 “hawking” the trust and, worse, fears that setting up the trust will cause his grandchildren, if I may put words in his mouth, to live as spoiled-rotten heirs. He would rather they “pursue their dreams through hard and resourceful work.”

Trust me, they will. Assets from the RIC-E Trust are not available until retirement age, so it’s hard to imagine that it will lead someone to live as a bum through his or her 20s, 30s, 40s and 50s. Furthermore, getting $2.4 million 65 years from now is roughly the same as getting $350,000 today. That’s a nice boost in retirement income, but it turns no one into a Rockefeller.

Rather, the RIC-E Trust merely helps make life a bit easier for your children and grandchildren, who face financial challenges far greater than Mr. Tedesco probably ever experienced: unprecedented housing costs, huge college tuition bills, and ” oh, yes ” entering retirement in a world where Social Security and pensions might not exist. If we can ease that retirement challenge, they’ll be better able to focus on homes and college or, better yet, pursue dreams without worries that those dreams are not financially rewarding. Ironically, that’s exactly what Mr. Tedesco hopes they’ll do.

A final comment: Of the $300 fee, I get half, which pays for staff to handle administrative matters. A lawyer gets the other half, and if Mr. Tedesco knows of a lawyer who will draft a trust for less than $150, I hope he’ll let me know.

RIC EDELMAN

Edelman Financial Services Inc.

Fairfax

Don’t undermind the troops

American troops are instructed that lethal force is a good thing when it’s clear the enemy has hostile intentions but a bad thing under other circumstances, particularly when civilians are involved (“A Marine accused,” Editorial, Wednesday). Yet isn’t the taking of any human life primal and irrational in the end?

We shouldn’t be surprised when soldiers don’t make the right choice between good killing and bad when they’re tired and scared and the enemy doesn’t wear uniforms. To ask them to make such decisions with poise and reason is to ask them to stop being the efficient, detached killers we’ve trained them to be.

ROBERT J. INLOW

Charlottesville

Red Cross in Afghanistan

Regarding the Katherine Clad article “Aid group gets OK to set up Kabul hospital” (World, Feb. 5): The International Committee of the Red Cross, far from withdrawing from Afghanistan, is still very much present.

The ICRC has been permanently based in the Afghan capital, Kabul, since 1986 and before that provided surgical care for war-wounded Afghans in Peshawar and Quetta for seven years. Today, the ICRC works in cooperation with a large number of other international and national aid organizations throughout Afghanistan.

We have 66 expatriates and 1,200 national staff members working in our delegation in Kabul and in our sub-delegations in Mazar-e-Sharif, Herat, Kandahar and Jalalabad. We also have offices in Gulbahar, Bamiyan and Ghazni.

The ICRC is working in health, protection, mine action, and water and habitat. We are also involved in the dissemination of international humanitarian law to civil society and the military and are providing substantial financial and technical support and capacity building to our sister organization, the Afghan Red Crescent Society.

Two weeks ago, the ICRC, through the Norwegian Red Cross, handed back the 100-bed Wazir Akbar Khan Hospital ” Afghanistan’s main referral hospital for orthopedic and emergency surgery ” to the Ministry of Public Health after carrying out renovations to the building’s infrastructure that cost several million U.S. dollars.

Other ongoing work in the medical field includes assistance to the Ministry of Public Health for the provision of support services such as radiology, laboratories, blood banks and blood transfusions, as well as regular deliveries of medicines and medical supplies to a number of health facilities.

There is a seven-person surgical team working in Jalalabad’s Public Hospital No. 1 conducting operations and doing hands-on training. Support is also being given to the Mirwais hospital in Kandahar through an expatriate presence and the delivery of medical supplies. Teams of physiotherapists and technicians treat hundreds of disabled patients every week, many of them mine victims, in six orthopedic centers in Kabul, Herat, Mazar, Jalalabad, Faizabad and Gulbahar.

We hope this will resolve any misunderstanding that might arise as a result of Miss Clad’s article and explain the scale of our operations in a country to which the ICRC has given its support for the past 25 years.

PHILIP SPOERRI

Head of Delegation

International Committee

of the Red Cross

Kabul, Afghanistan


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