- The Washington Times - Wednesday, May 4, 2005

A Montgomery County school board member will sit in on sex-education classes that have prompted parental protest and a federal lawsuit claiming an anti-religious and pro-homosexual bias in the curriculum.

“I do take those concerns seriously, which is why I want to see it,” said Steve Abrams, the lone Republican on the nine-member school board.

Mr. Abrams, who is also chairman of the county Republican Party, is the only school board member who has expressed plans to visit the new sex-education classes, a school official said.

Mr. Abrams said it was difficult to schedule time in the classes “because of all the hoops I’m having to jump through” with administrators. He said he will go to classes at most or all of the three middle schools and three high schools where the course will be tested.

School officials initially told The Washington Times that parents would not be allowed to sit in on the sex-ed courses. But when they were presented with their own policy for encouraging parental visits, they said they would allow parents with children in the classes to visit and watch.

The sex-ed pilot program will begin Monday at two schools unless a federal judge decides during a hearing today to halt the program and allow protest groups to propose changes to it.

Rockville lawyer John Garza said the curriculum is unconstitutional because it violates students free-speech and First Amendment rights. He is vice chairman of Citizens for a Responsible Curriculum (CRC), which filed the federal lawsuit and has presented more than 4,000 petition signatures against the course.

“This curriculum is an indoctrination program,” Mr. Garza said. “It’s setting forth a viewpoint on sex and homosexuality that goes beyond impartation of knowledge.”

Mr. Abrams said he wants to see whether there is a difference between the way the curriculum is written and the way it is presented to children.

“Are the materials presented in a biased way? That’s something you don’t get a feel for coming out of the committee,” Mr. Abrams said. “I want to wait and see how it’s played. If it’s correct, it would nullify a lot of concern. If it can’t be done that way, you have to go back to the drawing board.”

He also wants to watch 10th-graders react to a condom demonstration video in which an attractive young woman fits a condom onto a cucumber.

“I’m looking as much at the nonverbal [reactions] as the verbal,” he said.

Mr. Abrams was elected to the school board last fall and has served two previous, nonconsecutive terms from 1992 to 1996 and from 1998 to 2002.

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