- The Washington Times - Sunday, January 14, 2007

A residents advisory committee is preparing studies on abortion and sexual orientation to be used in classes required for early teens in Alexandria public schools.

Proposed additions to the curriculum include studies about why women seek abortions and about homosexuality, heterosexuality and sexual discrimination.

The Alexandria Board of Education must approve any additions.

The Family Life Education Advisory Committee began preparing the studies in September and submitted them to school system staff for revisions in December. The committee next meets Jan. 24.

If the school board approves the additional classwork, students will begin the studies in the 2007-08 school year.

One instruction would be to answer “yes” or “no” to 10 instances in which somebody might consider an abortion. These instances include rape, being an unmarried teen, being a college student pregnant as the result of broken condom, and being an unmarried 20-year-old for whom the father is one of four sexual partners.

Officials said the answers would be private but provide basis for teachers to explain the differences in philosophies between pro-life and pro-choice groups without using “insulting, attacking or prejudicial language.”

One lesson would include a history of abortions, beginning in the Colonial era when the practice was permitted under English law and continuing through 1997 when Virginia legislators passed a parental-notification law.

The sexual-orientation study plan, which also would prohibit offensive language, would give 10 theories for sexual differences, leading to discussions about sexual development.

The new lessons would include a video titled, “What If I’m Gay?” which has been a part of Alexandria school lessons for about a decade, said Kenneth J. Wolfe, a 10-year member of the advisory committee who does not support the proposed changes.

“I’m in the slim majority opposing it on the committee,” he said.

He said parents of band members might object to schedule conflicts with their children’s practices and performances.

Students need written approval from parents to miss the abortion-orientation classes. To graduate, they would have to take credited elective classes.

Last week, Montgomery County’s school board approved a revised curriculum that teaches middle and high school students about homosexuality and condom use. The new curriculum is scheduled to be tested in six schools this spring.

Alexandria and Montgomery County schools teach boys and girls together. In October, the National School Boards Association recommended separating boys and girls. “Recognizing that some students learn better in a single-sex class or school, the regulations give educators more flexibility,” the association said.

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