In predominantly liberal Montgomery County, Maryland, the suburban D.C. public school district’s sex-education program is guided by a panel of education and health experts and parents recruited from across the political spectrum. Despite being offered positions on the panel, two antigay, abstinence-only organizations have been battling to stymie the panel and its development of a comprehensive sex-education curriculum. They have been aided by the Family Research Council and by the Liberty Counsel, a well-funded legal-assault force supported by most of the nation’s major religious-right organizations.
Teach The Facts (TTF) — a local group of concerned parents battling the assault by religious-rightists — monitors the activities of the Liberty Counsel’s local proxy, an outfit called “Citizens for a Responsible Curriculum” or CRC. TTF also monitors the Virginia-based antigay-parents group PFOX, whose panel representative is none other than FRC antigay activist Peter Sprigg.
Here are some of TTF’s recent observations:
Despite the presence of antigay representatives on the sex-ed panel, CRC angrily accuses three unnamed reps on the panel of “supporting homosexuality as natural and mainstream.” Yet it turns out that none of the panel’s reps belong to such organization. There is one rep from PFLAG and one from TTF, neither of which buy into the rhetoric that sexual orientation is natural vs. unnatural, and neither of which consider homosexuality “mainstream.”
CRC accuses the school district of telling kids that homosexuality is “natural or the same as heterosexuality.” Again, CRC identifies no one who buys into the natural vs unnatural word game, nor does CRC name anyone who bizarrely considers homosexuality or heterosexuality the “same.” CRC asks, “Why are schools not promoting religious tolerance?” But the sex-ed curriculum did, in fact, promote religious tolerance — until CRC and PFOX sued to remove gay-tolerant religious language from the sex-ed curriculum. And the schools still do promote tolerance between religious groups, though Liberty Counsel could always put a stop to that with another religious-right lawsuit demanding that Jews and Muslims take a back seat to Christians during the holiday season.
TTF notes, further, that a 2004 national survey found broad public support for neutral, comprehensive sex education — precisely what CRC is battling against.
Prof. Warren Throckmorton, pro-exgay pundit who often advocates for PFOX, may have undercut CRC’s case against the school district recently when he told a county public meeting that the school district should provide a more nuanced discussion of sexual identity and that the curriculum should stay close to scientific findings. (Additional details here.)
At the same meeting, according to TTF, CRC invented unnamed government agencies out of thin air that allegedly concluded “gay sex is far more dangerous than normal, heterosexual sex.” But TTF failed to define “gay sex.” Oral and anal sex, for better or worse, are common among heterosexuals and especially among young heterosexuals seeking to avoid pregnancy or preserve what they consider (vaginal) virginity. CRC reputedly cited no studies, but TTF does:
Among adults 25-44 years of age, 97 percent of men and 98 percent of women have had vaginal intercourse; 90 percent of men and 88 percent of women have had oral sex with an opposite-sex partner; and 40 percent of men and 35 percent of women have had anal sex with an opposite-sex partner. About 6.5 percent of men 25-44 years of age have had oral or anal sex with another man. Based on a differently worded question, 11 percent of women 25-44 years of age reported having had a sexual experience with another woman. Sexual Behavior and Selected Health Measures: Men and Women 15–44 Years of Age, United States, 2002
CRC has exhibited an attitude of moral superiority over the parents of Montgomery County, but the county’s parents fought back recently when the Montgomery County Council of PTA’s Delegates passed a resolution against alleged invasions of student and family privacy by CRC.
On November 28, TTF offered the latest update on county’s effort to update its antiquated sex-education program. The overview finds CRC running low on momentum and fracturing between its leaders and funders — political ideologues — and ordinary conservative parents who are understandably concerned about their children.