Friday, May 06, 2005

Court blocks sex-ed program

A pilot sex-education program designed to teach students about human sexuality and the dangers of unprotected sex was blocked by a federal judge Tuesday. The judge ruled that the program’s inclusion of discussions on homosexuality gave preference to religions that are tolerant of homosexuality over those that reject it. The course was to be implemented in six Montgomery County (Maryland) schools on Monday.

The curriculum was to be used in eighth and tenth grades. Parents would be able to opt their children out of the program by signing a form.

This decision is not about religious preference, although that is the issue that the court acted upon. It is about conservative and anti-gay groups seeking to prevent discussions about homosexuality in our nation’s public school systems.

If the Montgomery County school district wishes to introduce this curriculum, it is their right to do so. If the local public disagrees with the decision, they will have the opportunity to reshape the school board and their county government through the ballot box.

TYL supports an educational curriculum that seeks to provide our nation’s youth with accurate, unbiased information on sexuality and sexual activity that will answer all their questions about sexual behavior, including questions about homosexuality. Our school systems should be designed to provide information and resources so that children can make informed decisions for themselves regarding sexual activity.

ALAN ADDS: Note that this is clearly a case of judicial activism. But I imagine the socially conservative religious groups won't condemn this judge.

3 Comments:

At 2:40 PM, Blogger Joe Weedon said...

It's only judicial activism when the judge is going against something the conservatives believe in. Not when the judge is supporting their cause.

 
At 6:16 PM, Blogger MaxedOutMama said...

Hey, I totally support your centrist convictions! So from one person seeking the middle-ground to another, let me explain why you seem to be misinterpreting this story.

The judge blocked the program on very old-fashioned First Amendment principles. I urge you to read his opinion because the news coverage has been incredibly distorted, shockingly so.

The curriculum contained references to God, the Bible, Jesus and sin and attempted to describe the correct attitudes with relation to these issues. Such material is neither appropriate nor constitutional when taught in a public school.

See the judge's opinion here, or see this article I wrote to point out the biased reporting, which also contains a link to the judge's opinion. This was only a restraint order and the judge did not rule on any other components of the program.

You are absolutely wrong in making the statement "This decision is not about religious preference, although that is the the issue that the court acted upon." The decision is indeed about the issues the judge acted upon and no others.

Perhaps you meant to write "This case is about conservative and anti-gay groups seeking to prevent discussion about homosexuality in our nation's public school systems".
I understand by reading the press coverage how you could have obtained such an impression, but you are at least partially misstating the issue.

One of the chief objections of the opposing groups (aside from thinking that religion has no place within a public school, with which I am sure you agree) was to factual inaccuracies in the condom video. This objection stemmed not from homophobia but because they believed that their children were being given factually wrong information.

The statistics contained within that video don't agree with CDC statistics and at least one doctor wrote a letter outlining her concerns. The real issue is that the public school did an incredibly sloppy job of creating this curriculum (read the opinion and notice that parts of the curriculum mention Canada numerous times). Then when people questioned it they hedgehogged and refused to deal with legitimate complaints.

No court of the United States is going to forbid an informational program regarding human sexuality, and same-sex attraction is certainly a part of human sexuality. There are absolutely no legal grounds on which to do so. If any court did make such a decision it would be overruled by a higher court.

No public school system has the right to violate the First Amendment. If you think it does, perhaps you should explain how your legal reasoning overcomes 200 years of constitutional law.

 
At 4:28 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

No, the curriculum contained only one reference to religion -- something that said that "Religions have different views about sexuality," or something. Nobody actually complained about that line. All the quotes that the judge objected to can be found in the teachers' resources. These are a number of articles, chapters, and anything else that are suggested reading for teachers so they can get some background on the subject. Teachers are explicitly ordered not to present this material in class, or even to let students see the stuff. It appears that the judge was fooled into believing that this information was being taught to students. It wasn't.

The reason there are references to Canada is not that the school board was sloppy, but that a Canadian article was recommended as reading for teachers.

Unfortunately, the Montgomery County school board has removed the actual curriculum materials from their web site, so you can't confirm what I'm saying. The judge objected to the contents of three teachers' resources, and nothing else.

And the condom video is perfectly in line with CDC online resources. One conservative doctor, who I think is a member of the group that filed the lawsuit, was quoted many times complaining about condoms, and has written letters to the editors of every DC-area newspaper. But the CDC strongly recommends the use of condoms for protection against STDs, despite this one doctor.

 

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