Parents representing Citizens for a Responsible Curriculum (CRC) generated buzz last week by protesting against Montgomery County's sex-ed pilot program with signs that read ''Health Before Politics'' outside public schools.
But they weren't able to derail the eighth and tenth grade curriculum. Instead, the county's plans to introduce the program continued last week with its introduction in six more schools, with plans for five more to be added by the end of March.
Michelle Turner, CRC's vice president, is asking parents to get angry, be vocal and ''demand something better'' -- that is, ''better'' than a curriculum that strives to define sexual orientation and is inclusive of gays. In the meantime, CRC awaits a response to an appeal request on behalf of the group against the county's Board of Education, that is expected to be decided on by July.
''Montgomery County is one of the best school systems in the county, and this is the best they can come up with?'' she asks.
Turner's main frustration with the program stems from what she describes as a lack of factual information, including the use of condoms and anal sex.
''We're not presenting that as just a homosexual issue,'' she says. ''There [are] a great deal of heterosexual youths who are engaging in anal sex to avoid pregnancy.... They need to know that condoms are not designed for anal sex.''
CRC also takes exception with the program's ''one-sided view,'' that homosexuality is innate. Turner says that if there is information for people who ''choose to be'' gay, there should also be information for those who would rather be ''ex-gay.''
Jim Kennedy, a social psychologist and president of Teach the Facts, a group that is in favor of the current curriculum, says Turner's modification requests are ''ridiculous,'' and predicts that the program will successfully go forward to encompass all of the schools in Montgomery County by the fall of 2007.
''If you are an 'ex-gay,' I guess that means that you were gay and are not anymore,'' Kennedy says. ''Then you would be straight, heterosexual. It doesn't need its own category. Never mind the fact that if they were going to teach that, they should also teach about 'ex-straights' and about 'ex-ex-gays,' people who claim to be 'ex-gay' and are now gay again, which far outnumber 'ex-gays.'''
Kennedy suspects that CRC will once again file a lawsuit against the Montgomery County School Board if its appeal request does not yield the result it seeks.
''This time the school districts have more lawyers and have looked at everything that got developed carefully.... I don't believe [CRC has] got a chance in winning,'' he says, adding that CRC is specifically targeting gays through their campaign to include ''ex-gays.''
''The big issue is sexual orientation and people like Michelle Turner...would like to keep gay people in the closet,'' he says. ''That's really their goal.''
But Turner claims her group is not ''homophobic.''
''We are not gay bashers. We are not Nazis,'' she says. ''Our primary concern is if the school system is going to introduce [sexual orientation] into the classroom, it needs to be factual [and] balanced. ...
''[Students] need to know that there's no reason for them to have to endure harassment, teasing or bullying, that there is an avenue to address [that],'' she continues. ''They also need to know that it's wrong to harass, tease or bully an individual who chooses to live their life that way, the same way that it's wrong to harass someone who is 300 pounds, or someone who can't afford to shop at the Gap.''