Getting to the Bottom of Kidney Disease

While the emphasis of your article on kidney disease ["A Dubious Distinction," Aug. 23 ] was understandably on local aspects, what jumps out to a geologist's eye is the startling correlation of high incidence of the disease with the area of young, Coastal Plain sediments. Inland areas, underlain by older rocks, though sharing many of the socioeconomic characteristics mentioned, have lower disease incidence. Hydrologic and pedologic (soil) characteristics are obviously conditioned by geology; I recall studies that relate heart-disease incidence to quality of groundwater. Has the possible effect of such natural environmental factors been considered?

Priestley Toulmin, PhD


The article asks, "So where are the lapel ribbons and walkathons?" The answer is: Right here, on Sept. 17 at Hains Point. The PKD Foundation has been organizing walks to raise funds to find a cure for polycystic kidney disease (PKD) for more than five years now.

PKD affects more than 600,000 people in the United States. Many who, according to your article, "do not know they are prime candidates for kidney trouble" probably have PKD. As for lapel ribbons, there are none for PKD, but there are rubber wristbands that say "End PKD."

Matthew Taylor


Our Children Don't Need Reparative Therapy

As the mom of a gay son, I thank you for your very revealing articles about reparative therapy ["Vowing to Set the World Straight" and "A Conversion Therapist's Unusual Odyssey," Aug. 16].

My son and the millions like him do not need to be repaired. What is in dire need of repair is society's misinformed, misguided, antiquated and often harmful notions about sexual orientation.

As a long-standing member of Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG), I have worked with many families coming to terms with the fact that a family member is gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender (GLBT). At PFLAG, we know that love and acceptance help shape productive and wholesome lives for our GLBT loved ones.

Sheron A. Rosen

North Potomac

Parents and Friends of Ex-Gays (PFOX) and Citizens for Responsible Curriculum (CRC) have received ample coverage in the media to present their views. However, their two main messages -- that reparative therapy and presentation of "ex-gay" as a sexual orientation are valid and that nothing other than abstinence-only sex education is acceptable -- have been rejected by all major professional medical organizations and discredited by research. That is why the PFOX/CRC messages were not part of the health curriculum revisions adopted last year by the Montgomery County Board of Education.

Students need accurate information about human sexuality, sexual orientation, the wisdom of abstinence -- and also information on contraception and sexually transmitted infections. Ideological or theological viewpoints with no basis in sound medical practice and research have no place in the health curriculum.

Lara Akinbami


David Fishback


The Sexual Side of Bullying

"Bully for Them," [Aug. 23] which examined bullying in schools, neglected to include sexual bullying.

Traditional bullying is experienced by 30 percent of students; sexual bullying (peer-to-peer sexual harassment) is experienced by 70 to 90 percent of students. Fifty-two percent of girls and 42 percent of boys have been touched, grabbed or pinched in a sexually abusive manner.

Student-to-student sexual harassment makes students feel unsafe. Even those who are not directly harassed may often feel unsafe, compromising their ability to learn.

There is much that schools can do to create an environment where such behaviors do not happen and positive academic and emotional growth can occur.

Bernice Resnick Sandler

Senior Scholar

Women's Research and Education Institute


Harriett M. Stonehill

Director, MegaSkills Education Center


You missed one big concern regarding bullying: bias against gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender students. Harassment by their peers accounts for much of the isolation these kids face. It is important that schools, lawmakers and parents don't dismiss bullying as a rite of passage.

Candace Gingrich

Youth Outreach Manager

Human Rights Campaign