ROCKVILLE, Md. (BP)–As children across the nation head back to school, students in Montgomery County, Md., will be taught to celebrate homosexuality, and they’ll likely be shielded from anyone who believes such behaviors are wrong.
Pro-family groups are appealing a decision by the Maryland State Board of Education that allows Montgomery County to teach middle and high school students that homosexuality, bisexuality and transvestitism are normal “innate” sexual variations and that anyone who opposes such conduct is “homophobic.”
The Michigan-based Thomas More Law Center is assisting Citizens for a Responsible Curriculum, Parents and Friends of Ex-Gays and Gays, and the Family Leader Network in their administrative appeal to the Montgomery County Circuit Court based on four main objections to the “Respect for Differences in Human Sexuality” curriculum.
The law center says the curriculum (1) teaches students that homosexuality is “innate,” which is an unproven theory; (2) teaches students that anal sex is just another sexual option without warning students of the increased HIV/AIDS risk of anal sex, even with a condom; (3) labels as “homophobic” children who hold traditional religious or moral beliefs about homosexuality; and (4) teaches students that transgenderism is just another “sexual orientation,” even though transgenderism has been classified as a mental disorder.
“This curriculum is full of factual inaccuracies and runs counter to sound educational policy,” Edward L. White III, trial counsel with Thomas More, said in a news release. “It should not be taught in the public school.”
In response to the appeal, the circuit court could overturn the board’s decision, stay the application of the sexuality curriculum while the appeal is pending, or affirm the board’s decision and see it appealed to the Maryland Court of Appeals, the law center said.
Thomas More representatives have called the curriculum “outrageously hedonistic,” “life-threatening” and “the result of pressure by homosexual advocacy groups.” The state board approved the curriculum, which also includes a DVD on how to use a condom, in June. Parents and Friends of Ex-Gays and Gays (PFOX) asked that the school system include ex-gay perspectives in the curriculum, but that request was denied.
During the spring semester this year, PFOX distributed information to Montgomery County students in the form of flyers that offered an alternative to the homosexual agenda, but the group was met with blatant viewpoint discrimination in a school system that touts tolerance, PFOX says.
At Winston Churchill High School, school personnel wrote “PFOX” on trash cans in the main lobby and encouraged students to throw the group’s materials out. Several teachers sent disparaging e-mails to PFOX in their capacity as school employees and from their school-issued e-mail accounts, the Alliance Defense Fund, which supports PFOX’s efforts, said.
“Another teacher from Wootton High School wrote to PFOX: ‘STAY OUT OF OUR SCHOOLS AND LEAVE OUR CHILDREN ALONE!’ This teacher also charged PFOX with being ‘like the KKK but only in the form of religion,'” ADF legal counsel Jeremy Tedesco wrote in a July letter to the Montgomery County Board of Education. “Whatever the feeling of teachers and administrators at Montgomery County Schools may be, they have no right, and indeed violate the constitutional rights of PFOX, when they encourage students to throw out materials provided by PFOX.”
A decision last year by the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals, which includes Maryland, held that community organizations have a First Amendment right to have information distributed by schools to students free of content- and viewpoint-based discrimination, Tedesco said.
Despite the hardships they’ve encountered, PFOX plans to distribute materials to students attending Montgomery County Schools this fall, Tedesco said.
“Should PFOX’s materials meet with the same or similar discriminatory treatment this fall at the hands of Board employees, and the Board does nothing to stop these actions, we will recommend that PFOX file a federal civil rights lawsuit against the Board seeking an injunction and an award of damages and attorneys’ fees,” Tedesco wrote.
Candi Cushman, an education analyst for Focus on the Family, said in an editorial July 20 that “tolerance” equals censorship in Montgomery County.
She said the new curriculum exposes children to statements such as, “It took a while for me to figure out that I am bisexual. I’ve had great relationships with men and women.”
“They are essentially telling the kids that unless they accept homosexuality, there is something wrong with them,” Michelle Turner, a mother of six with two in the school district, said, according to Cushman. “These kids have no ability to voice their objection. These lessons are so tightly scripted, there is really no discussion that is permitted to take place in the classroom.”
The state board of education approved the curriculum because, it said, “teaching tolerance of diversity is a civic value” with a secular purpose.
“The message was clear: Anything taught in the name of ‘tolerance’ trumps parental rights — as well as free speech and religious freedom rights,” Cushman wrote.
Erin Roach is a staff writer for Baptist Press.