By Megan Greenwell
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, March 7, 2008
Opponents of new sex education lessons for Montgomery County middle and high school students have decided not to appeal a court ruling in favor of the school system, ending a lengthy legal battle over what teachers may tell students about sexual orientation.
Citizens for a Responsible Curriculum, the group leading the opposition to the revised curriculum, concluded that it did not have a strong chance of having last month's circuit court decision overturned on appeal. Instead, it will seek other ways to change the lessons, spokeswoman Michelle Turner said.
"We think there are other avenues that would be more timely and have a greater impact," Turner said. "We realize that we're not going to get the outcome we're looking for in a Montgomery County court, but we're far from done."
The school system adopted a new sex education curriculum last summer after a six-year debate over how best to update lesson plans a citizens advisory group concluded were outdated. Some lessons now include discussions on homosexuality and the proper use of a condom.
CRC objected to lessons that categorize homosexuality as innate, saying they violate a state law that says teachings must be factual. They also opposed a mention of anal intercourse, saying it violates a law against teaching "erotic techniques."
Circuit Court Judge William Rowan III found in favor of the school system, echoing a Maryland State Board of Education decision last year that determined the group had no right to "second-guess the appropriateness" of the curriculum adopted by the Montgomery community.
Turner said the group will push for the state legislature or State Board of Education to define what constitutes an erotic technique, a decision now left to local school boards. CRC will also continue working with other groups to distribute information challenging the assertion that homosexuality is innate.
Brian Edwards, chief of staff for Montgomery Superintendent Jerry D. Weast, said administrators are pleased by CRC's decision not to continue the legal challenge.
"Unfortunately, a small group of opponents have cost taxpayers thousands of dollars in legal fees to defend this, so obviously we're very pleased that it's over," Edwards said. "We are going to focus on instruction. We are not going to focus on actions they may or may not take in other venues."