- The Washington Times - Tuesday, May 10, 2005

Montgomery County public schools today likely will agree to extend until December a temporary restraining order on teaching a new sex-education curriculum, an attorney for a group suing the school system said yesterday.

Erik Stanley, an attorney for Citizens for a Responsible Curriculum (CRC), predicted the school system would agree to extend the 10-day restraining order imposed last week in U.S. District Court in Greenbelt.

The extension would allow school officials and CRC activists to address and reconcile differences over the new course. Mr. Stanley said if CRC cannot reach an agreement with school officials, it will press its lawsuit forward in December.

Judith S. Bresler, the school system’s attorney, did not return phone calls seeking comment.

Yesterday, the Montgomery County school board held its first meeting since a federal judge imposed the restraining order Thursday. In a closed session, board members met for an hour with Superintendent Jerry D. Weast, who suspended the course indefinitely after the judge’s ruling.

During the board’s open session, parents who support the course called opponents ?a few vocal malcontents? who have ?a clear, immediate, homophobic agenda.?

But CRC President Michelle Turner said: “I don’t think we’re the radicals. We are trying to take a moderate position here.”

U.S. District Court Judge Alexander Williams Jr. ruled last week that the course “presents only one view on the subject — that homosexuality is a natural and morally correct lifestyle — to the exclusion of other perspectives.”

Mrs. Turner and other CRC members have said they filed the suit days before the course was to be tested in six schools only because the school board refused to meet with them.

They want their perspectives included in the curriculum inspection, which Mr. Weast has assigned to Deputy Superintendent Frieda K. Lacey.

“Our hope is that the schools would uphold the diversity they profess to value by accepting and including all parents’ viewpoints and allow the curriculum to reflect these as well,” Mrs. Turner, a parent of four children in public schools, told the board yesterday.

Some parents who support the curriculum are upset that CRC has been aggressive in its efforts to halt the curriculum.

Paula Bienenfeld, who has a child at Tilden Middle School in Rockville, said she was alarmed that CRC sent a letter to her about its concerns with the course. She said CRC has a database with the names and addresses of every child at Tilden.

She told the board that CRC has “a radical agenda … to force our citizens to adhere to a radical far-right worldview.”

Ms. Bienenfeld also said CRC “receives their financial and organizational backing from the Liberty Counsel.”

Mrs. Turner said Liberty Counsel is providing legal counsel pro bono and all of CRC’s money comes from private donations from within Montgomery County.

Liberty Counsel is “loosely affiliated” with Baptist pastor Jerry Falwell, but has no working relationship with him, Mr. Stanley said.

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