Monday, September 26, 2005

Maryland school's sex ed program in the news again

Back in May a Montgomery County, MD sex education curriculum wound up in court. I wrote about it at the time and did a follow-up on an editorial published in the Washington Post Outlook section by a high school student attending a school in that district. The crux of the lawsuit was the complaint that the curriculum did 2 things objectionable:

  1. It excluded the position that homosexuality is viewed by a significant portion of our society as flatly wrong, except by way of calling such a notion incorrect.

  2. That the specific religions that held this opinion were morally inferior to religions that didn't.

Reproducing, yet again, the primary point of the judge's ruling, I wrote:

::::::::The Judge wrote that Montgomery County Schools "open up the classroom to the subject of homosexuality, and specifically, the moral rightness of the homosexual lifestyle. However, the Revised Curriculum presents only one view on the subject -- that homosexuality is a natural and morally correct lifestyle -- to the exclusion of other perspectives.

"The public interest is served by preventing [school officials] from promoting particular religious beliefs in the public schools and preventing [the officials] from disseminating one-sided information on a controversial topic,"

The school superintendent responded to this ruling by immediately suspending any sex ed teaching including the airing of a film discussing safe sex wherein the proper use of a condom, demonstrated on a cucumber, was displayed. I wrote initially that I thought this was simply a maneuver designed to be obstinate by over-applying the judge's ruling and that neither the judge nor the original complaint ever brought up the film in any way.

So, here we are today and there's another article in the WaPo, this time by Post Staff Writer V. Dion Haynes. This is no editorial. This is supposedly a news article which implies some research has been done and the facts as stated are the facts as can best be established. The title, "Sex-Ed Panel Aims to Sway Lessons on Gays" has at least the sound of being directed to the point of the earlier articles and the lawsuit. The panel mentioned in the title is chaired by Dr. Paul A. Wertsch. Third paragraph in the article reads:

::::::::Wertsch was among the health educators who spoke at the forum sponsored by, a parent group established to support the education curriculum proposed last year by the county Board of Education. The curriculum, which the parent group considered comprehensive, was dropped in the spring to settle a lawsuit brought by other parents who thought some of the lessons, including a demonstration of how to put on a condom, were too explicit.::::::::

No, NO, NO, NO! The original article was published in the Washington Post, for crying out loud, and this hack claiming to be a journalist can't do the research? The lawsuit was directed at the curriculum's stance on the morality of homosexuality, not about any part of it being "explicit." The "demo" about the condom was never mentioned in the lawsuit whatsoever. Being the kindest I can be, this is sloppiness in reporting at its worst and if this journalist is so incapable of getting the publicly recorded facts correct, then he or she needs to be shown the door and the unemployment line.