David Fishback, chairman of the Montgomery County (Maryland) Board of Education’s Citizens Advisory Committee on Family Life and Human Development, responds in the Washington area’s new Examiner newspaper to exgay movement claims against the school district’s comprehensive sex-ed curriculum.
The misinformation was reprinted, apparently without fact-checking, in a Feb. 7 Examiner editorial.
Re: "Even Kinsey fans value different ideas" editorial, Feb. 7.
Welcome to Washington. It’s good to have another newspaper in the area. But before characterizing the actions of local governments, it’s essential The Examiner check the facts — not simply rely on press reports or Internet blogs.
Unfortunately, the editorial does not meet this standard when it states that when the Montgomery County School Board decided "to add a new pilot program on sexual identity," it concluded that "a how-to video and discussion of fruit-flavored condoms published by gay activist groups was OK."
This appears to refer to a condom demonstration video prepared by school staff for use in 10th-grade health classes at the request of the board and health ed teachers who concluded that lack of information on correct condom use was leading to unwanted pregnancies and sexually transmitted infections.
The video, which repeatedly stresses that abstinence is the only sure way to avoid pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections, makes no mention whatsoever of "fruit-flavored condoms." A commercially produced video on birth control (which also stressed the risks involved in sexual activity) that did briefly mention such condoms has not been approved.
The condom video that was approved is separate from the proposed health curriculum revisions, which mention some basic facts on sexual orientation for the first time. Neither video was "published by gay activist groups."
The further suggestion that the absence of "ex-gay" materials in the health curriculum was a bad idea also misses the mark. The proposed revisions simply present the conclusions of every mainstream American medical and mental health professional association that homosexuality is not an illness — and most experts do not believe it is a choice.
Since an underlying premise of "ex-gay" advocacy groups is that homosexuality is a disease that can and should be "cured" — a proposition mainstream science does not accept — it would be improper to present it in MCPS’s fact-based health curriculum.
It would be horrific and dishonest to tell students who may be gay that they are diseased. Yet insertion of "ex-gay" materials in the curriculum would do just that.
Another underlying premise of "ex-gay" groups is that all homosexual activity is sinful, even among committed adult couples. Some religious denominations accept this view; others vigorously reject it. But such theological debates have no place in a public school health curriculum.
Antigay aggrieved-parents group PFOX and pro-exgay pundit Warren
Throckmorton (PDF file) are among those assisting in a religious-right recall
effort against the school board for approving an abstinence-plus
curriculum. Local residents are mounting a counter-campaign to defend the board and the district’s sex-education program.