ROCKVILLE, Md. (BP)–A controversial sexual-education program that promoted homosexuality in Maryland’s largest public school system has been scrapped by the school board following a loss in federal court.
The Montgomery County school board voted May 23 to overhaul the curriculum and to dissolve the committee that originally designed it. A new committee will be formed.
“Many school districts across the country are watching us closely and looking to us for leadership,” Superintendent Jerry D. Weast told The Washington Post. “This is something that’s important to our students now and in the future.”
Aimed at eighth- and 10th-graders, the curriculum taught that Jesus “said absolutely nothing at all about homosexuality,” that Baptists often have used the Bible “to justify hatred and oppression” and that being homosexual is similar to being left-handed. It also included a video of a young blond-haired woman putting a condom on a cucumber.
Two conservative groups — Citizens for a Responsible Curriculum and Parents and Friends of Ex-Gays and Gays — successfully filed a lawsuit to prevent it from going into effect. U.S. District Judge Alexander Williams Jr. issued a temporary restraining order on May 5 against the program, saying he was “extremely troubled” by it and ruling that it likely violated the Constitution’s protection of free speech and religious freedom.
The pro-family legal group Liberty Counsel represented the two conservative groups.
“The board’s action is a good first step in the right direction toward resolution of the issues in this case,” Liberty Counsel President Mat Staver said in a statement. “However, there remain issues to be resolved before the lawsuit can be completely settled. We will continue to work with the board on a possible resolution. The board’s actions send a strong message that other school districts should heed. School districts may not cross the line from instruction to engaging in indoctrination on socially sensitive topics such as sexual orientation. Schools are for instruction, not for ideological indoctrination.”
In his ruling Williams said the curriculum was one-sided.
“The Revised Curriculum … paints certain Christian sects, notably Baptists, which are opposed to homosexuality, as unenlightened and Biblically misguided,” he wrote. “… The Revised Curriculum also implies that the Baptist Church’s position on homosexuality is theologically flawed.
“… Most disturbingly, the Revised Curriculum juxtaposes this portrait of an intolerant and Biblically misguided Baptist Church against other, preferred Churches, which are more friendly towards the homosexual lifestyle.”
The curriculum included a “myth and facts” handout, which Williams said was taken from the website of the homosexual group Family Pride Coalition. The curriculum stated:
— “Myth: It isn’t ‘normal’ to be homosexual or have homosexual feelings.
“Facts: … It is interesting to note that only a few hundred years ago, being left-handed was considered the mark of a witch, a sign of perversity…. Future generations are likely to look back with equal astonishment that gay and lesbian people were subjected to similar acts of fear and hatred.”
— “Myth: Homosexuals are sick.
“Facts: … One’s sexual and emotional orientations are fixed at a very early age. Many experts claim at birth, certainly by age five.”
— “Myth: Homosexuality is a sin.
“Facts: The Bible contains six passages which condemn homosexual behavior. The Bible also contains numerous passages condemning heterosexual behavior. Theologians and Biblical scholars continue to differ on many Biblical interpretations. They agree on one thing, however. Jesus said absolutely nothing at all about homosexuality. Among the many things deemed an abomination are adultery, incest, wearing clothing made from more than one kind of fiber, and eating shellfish, like shrimp and lobster.
“Religion has often been misused to justify hatred and oppression. Less than a half century ago, Baptist churches (among others) in this country defended racial segregation on the basis that it was condoned by the Bible. Early Christians were not hostile to homosexuals. Intolerance became the dominant attitude only after the Twelfth Century. Today, many people no longer tolerate generalizations about homosexuality as pathology or sin…. Fortunately, many within organized religions are beginning to address the homophobia of the church.”
Williams asserted that the curriculum went too far.
“The Court is extremely troubled by the willingness of Defendants to venture — or perhaps more correctly bound — into the crossroads of controversy where religion, morality, and homosexuality converge,” he wrote in a 23-page opinion. “… [T]he Revised Curriculum presents only one view on the subject — that homosexuality is a natural and morally correct lifestyle — to the exclusion of other perspectives.”