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Monday, August 14, 2006

Let's Talk About Sex

So I kind of want to write today about how former Governor Hughes is endorsing Tom Perez for AG, Peter Franchot apparently has $900k racked up, or the other hot races in Maryland, but I can't. You see, we'd better talk about sex.

Specifically, today's post is about Montgomery County Public Schools and sex ed. I'll give it to you pretty simply: the schools are grappling with how thoroughly to teach MC young people about sex and sexuality and the most energetic people locally on this issue are often conservatives who want to limit the education our kids get, limiting their knowledge as they make difficult choices that shape their lives. Sexual behavior, contraception, sexual orientation -- these are things our kids need to learn about. A Board of Education election coming up that will decide 4 seats and maybe impact what our kids are taught, but it's getting little notice with so many higher profile races in the County and across Maryland.

The Gazette did a questionnaire of Board of Education candidates that reveals stark differences between the candidates on what should be taught to students on issues like sexuality, pregnancy and contraception. So, if you think MC students should learn about these important subjects without conservative interference, check out the responses of candidates for the Board of Education about sex ed. The Gazette's question was:

Should the school system's health curriculum include discussions of
homosexuality and demonstrations of contraception use?


The school system should provide responsible, age-appropriate sex education with
the option for families to elect participation in accordance with their beliefs.
If we truly want students to grow up informed and ready to make choices that
keep them safe and healthy, we must provide a curriculum that is comprehensive
and medically accurate. Discussion of sexual orientation and homosexuality
should be included. We know that combating prejudice and bullying targeted at
students who are ''different" by virtue of being gay requires education. By
including information about sexual orientation in the health curriculum, we will
foster an environment of greater tolerance in our schools.

Similarly, the video demonstration of condom use should be included in a
comprehensive curriculum. Condoms are the only form of birth control that can
prevent unintended pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections. The number one
reason for condom failure is improper use. In 2004, at the request of health
teachers, MCPS piloted a condom use demonstration video in three high schools,
designed to present information in a way that would hold students' attention.
The response was overwhelmingly positive. If we are serious about protecting our
students' health and giving them access to information about how to protect
themselves from sexually transmitted infections, HIV AIDS and unintended
pregnancies, we should include the demonstration in our instruction.



No, the public tax money is use to provide the student with education of
sciences, math, English and other academic-related subjects. The discussions of
homosexuality and demonstrations of contraception use are part of parental
guidance and family value retention responsibility and should be no part of our
public school curriculum.



I think that the parents should be the final decision makers in the area of sex
education. I think that we are in an age where schools can create a
''customized" sex education curriculum. I am a believer in developing
non-traditional means to achieve an end result. In the 21st century , we have
VCR's, DVD players, IPODs, ect.... You could have a sex education program that
is ''video-teleconferenced" (where parents could be a part of the sex education
classes if they choose to.


Dana Eugene Gassaway, At-Large
Responses not available
John Horan Latham, At-Large
Responses not available



The health curriculum should be comprehensive and fact based.



Parents are in the best position to decide what their children will learn about
health, sex, sexuality, homosexuality, alternative lifestyles, abstinence,
contraception and other components of the county's health curriculum. Some
parents have decided that discussion about homosexuality and demonstrations on
the use of contraception is appropriate for their child; while other parents
have decided these discussions and demonstrations conflict with their religious
and moral values that they teach at home.

Unfortunately, parents in effect have only one choice - to opt in or opt out
their children in these discussions and demonstrations. Children, whose parents
choose to opt out, are relegated to the library or some other ''holding
classroom" until they are allowed to return to health class. The BoE should
change this policy by giving parents the additional choice of opting in their
children into health classes that teach the values and morals that are
consistent with the values and morals they teach their children at home.

MCPS sets high standards for students in math, science, English, social studies,
visual and performing arts, athletics, reading, literature, history, in all
areas of the curriculum except one - health education. MCPS has watered down the
health curriculum to the lowest expectations of our children. Our children
deserve better.



I strongly support the planned revisions to the health education curriculum, to
include discussions about homosexuality in grades 8 and 10 and a condom
demonstration video in grade 10. Parents will have the opportunity to preview
the curriculum and will still be required to sign a permission form to allow
their children participate. I support 21st century health education for our



I support a comprehensive health curriculum. I foresee my role as a BOE member
to listen to the recommendations of the community advisory panel that is
currently reviewing proposed curriculum changes. It is likely that if the panel
recommends a proposal that includes discussions of homosexuality and
demonstrations of contraception use, I will be supportive.






Homosexuality and contraception use are a part of society and the facts about
both should be taught in a responsible and unbiased manner that demonstrates
respect, responsibility and abstinence. Many students and their families in
Montgomery County don't wish to participate in such discussions and this point
of view should be accommodated by having a strong, meaningful alternative to
those who do not opt in to the health curriculum that includes these topics.