Point by Point
Posted to Vigilance blog on 12.6.04, by Jim Kennedy

The group opposed to the new sex education curriculum has a web site: mcpscurriculum.com, that lists their objections to it. Let me print these, one by one, and we can look at them together. I apologize for the length of this post.

They say:

1. The new curriculum encourages students to "develop your individual sexual identity ," i.e., to identify themselves as either heterosexual, homosexual or bisexual. It links the ability to like oneself to one's sexual identity, suggesting to an 8th grader that a sex life is necessary to a good self-image. These misleading messages push teens toward premature and potentially harmful lifestyle decisions.

This is a fabrication. The curriculum does discuss sexual identity, but nowhere does it encourage anything like this. The quoted phrase come from the outline item: What is Human Sexuality? This term refers to emotional closeness, sexual health and reproduction, and sexual identity. As we study human sexuality we will discuss how you develop your individual sexual identity. To characterize a discussion of how sexual identity develops as "encouraging students" amounts to a lie.

Further, the term "self image" does not appear in the board's report anywhere. This item is totally false.

They say:

2. The new curriculum normalizes homosexuality and presents it as morally equivalent to heterosexuality. The well documented negative consequences resulting from homosexuality are not mentioned. A section titled "Myths Regarding Sexual Orientation" presents as "fact" points that many would dispute. The claim that “sex play with friends of the same gender is not uncommon during early adolescence” is a particularly inappropriate message for teens.

I don't know how you "normalize" something without using the word normal, but it does not appear in this document. Neither do the words "morally" or "equivalent." It's true that the myth/fact section does say that "sex play with friends of the same gender is not uncommon during early adolescence", but this fact happens to be true. It seems that about five percent of adolescents engage in this sort of behavior at some time. A number of surveys converge on this same number. Whether it is perfectly accurate, we dont know, but at least it is an attempt at empirical measurement, and not someone's wishful thinking.

It should be mentioned that the "the well documented negative consequences resulting from homosexuality" mainly come from abuse by bigots. This could perhaps be alleviated through a good, wholesome, truthful education.

They say:

3. The new curriculum defines family as "two or more people who are joined together by emotional feelings or who are related to one another." This statement arbitrarily changes the meaning of family as it has been understood throughout history, to include virtually any human relationship.

It would be suspect to quote from some newfangled liberal dictionary, so ... here's what the 1913 Webster's said:

1. The collective body of persons who live in one house, and under one head or manager; a household, including parents, children, and servants, and, as the case may be, lodgers or boarders. 2. The group comprising a husband and wife and their dependent children, constituting a fundamental unit in the organization of society. The welfare of the family underlies the welfare of society. --H. Spencer. 3. Those who descend from one common progenitor; a tribe, clan, or race; kindred; house; as, the human family; the family of Abraham; the father of a family. Go ! and pretend your family is young. --Pope. 4. Course of descent; genealogy; line of ancestors; lineage. 5. Honorable descent; noble or respectable stock; as, a man of family. 6. A group of kindred or closely related individuals; as, a family of languages; a family of States; the chlorine family. 7. (Biol.) A group of organisms, either animal or vegetable, related by certain points of resemblance in structure or development, more comprehensive than a genus, because it is usually based on fewer or less pronounced points of likeness. In zo["o]logy a family is less comprehesive than an order; in botany it is often considered the same thing as an order.

Um, it sounds like they're the ones that are trying to change the definition of the word "family," unless nowadays only #2 counts. Most of us who live in twenty-first century Montgomery County don't much care if there are two mommies or two daddies. If they love one another, they can be a family, and it's always been that way.

Seriously, this is wordplay. Even traditionally, there are very many families, for instance, without children, or with one parent, there are extended families, nuclear families, all through the Bible there are polygamous families, concubines, eunuchs ... these people just want to exclude gay people. This is something they themselves introduced for the sake of making a point.

They say:

4. Family values and family influence are frequently presented in a negative light. The new curriculum can easily be interpreted as saying that family values are not to be trusted.

Look, this is like shooting fish in a barrel, as they say. This report is in PDF format, and anybody can search it simply by clicking on the binoculars icon. This turns up 16 occurrances of the word "values." For example:

The existing curriculum wisely taught about the importance of relationships and the development of families in ways that convey values of caring and responsibility. But the exclusion from that discussion of the fact that not all people are heterosexual, and that non-heterosexuals can have healthy and happy lives, was destructive to the mental health of students who were not heterosexual.
B. How to develop relationships and share equally
6. respect personal values, rights, and needs
Explore how cultural and family values affect relationships and marriage
Discuss how family values, culture, religious views, and other factors influence family planning

Family values and family influence are never presented in a negative light. Whoever wrote this apparently expected his or her audience to be too dull to go to the original and look it up.

They say:

5. Whereas the current curriculum emphasizes abstinence as "the best choice" for teens and gives a strong message on its benefits, the new curriculum devalues self-restraint and refers to abstinence only as a means to prevent pregnancy.

No. The report says The principle thrust of the discussion was that some things needed to be made a bit clearer, and the that there should be even more stress on the simple fact that abstinence is the only way to absolutely protect against pregnancy and transmission of STIs. STI is "sexually transmitted infection." This is a request made by the staff to the committee, which we are told in the report was implemented. In the school board's "Facts and Myths" document online, the very first item is:

FACT: Abstinence continues to be the method advocated as the only absolute protection against pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections (STIs).

No, they're wrong, students are still being taught that abstinence is the only perfect way to prevent both pregnancy and disease. It's not the only way, but it's the best way.

They say:

6. The choice to "opt out" of the sex ed program is not a satisfactory option at all. It would require three to six weeks of alternative study outside the health class. At a time when most teens want to blend in with the crowd, opting out places them at the center of attention on a topic many of them are embarrassed about. Many parents are reluctant to subject their children to the negative consequences of opting out.

This is deplorable. The fact sheet says:

FACT: Alternative units are available if parents decide that they do not want their children to participate in the classes:
* An alternative unit on "Abstinence Only;"
* An alternative unit on stress management and environmental health; or
* An independent study unit on a health education topic of the parent's choosing.

The obvious fact is, this group doesn't oppose the curriculum because of what their kids will learn, but what everybody else's kids will learn. They are seeking to propagate their hateful homosexuality-is-evil message by making sure that our kids aren't exposed to the truth.

This might be a good opportunity for these folks to teach their children what it is to stand up for what you believe in. But no, apparently it is more important for them to make it easy for their children to "blend in with the crowd."

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