- The Washington Times - Monday, January 8, 2007

A public meeting tonight in Montgomery County about the school system’s revised sex-education classes has rekindled the 2005 debate about the proposed curriculum, which teaches middle- and high-school students about homosexuality and condom use.

“We will be there because we [still] have serious concerns,” said Michelle Turner, president of Citizens for a Responsible Curriculum. “It’s a very biased curriculum that will do more harm than benefit to students.”

The group was part of a lawsuit in that resulted in revisions to the Health Education Curriculum, for eighth- and 10th-graders.

Superintendent Jerry D. Weast is urging the nine-member board to approve the curriculum, saying the lessons were prepared during four months of consultation with four physicians from the Maryland Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics.

Mrs. Turner is also concerned because the forum limits public comments.

“We will have only two minutes,” she said. “I don’t understand why they aren’t allowing more time.”

Representatives of Parents and Friends of Ex-Gays and Gays, which joined the lawsuit, also are expected to speak during the review, at 11 a.m. in the school board building, 850 Hungerford Drive in Rockville.

Opponents of the original curriculum said it promoted homosexuality and promiscuity by disregarding scientifically proven health risks. They said it also denigrates traditional and religious views about sex.

The revisions consist of three lessons: A two-part, 90-minute lesson for eighth-graders on “Respect for Differences in Human Sexuality;” a two-part, 90-minute segment on that lesson for 10th-graders; and a one-part, 45-minute lesson on condom use, including a demonstration video, for 10th-graders.

Students must have written, parental consent to take the lessons.

Teachers are forbidden to bring in or use resources other than those provided for the lessons.

Among the supporters of the curriculum, originally approved by the school board in 2004, is the parental organization Teach the Facts.

“We support a new curriculum that recognizes that sexual orientation is not a choice, and that homosexuality is not a disease,” the organization said.

If approved, three middle schools and three high schools will be selected to teach the revised courses. If the courses are judged acceptable, they will be taught in the 2007-2008 year in the county’s 38 middle and 25 public high schools.

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