On May 5, a group of parents and other residents, after months of unsuccessfully petitioning the Montgomery County school board, pulled off what the media reported as a major upset in the battle for parents' rights in the public schools. In a momentous 22-page decision, U.S. District Court Judge Alexander Williams Jr. ruled that the Board of Education was wrong in its approach of exclusively presenting gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender lifestyles as "natural and morally correct" in classroom discussions.
In his decision to grant a stay of the pilot program of the revised sex-ed curriculum, the judge weighed "a potential loss of Citizens for a Responsible Curriculum's (CRC) and [Parents and Friends of Ex-Gays and Gays]'s First Amendment freedoms against what amounts to mere inconvenience to Montgomery County Public Schools."
Williams affirmed the plaintiffs' right to be protected against religious and viewpoint discrimination found in the proposed sex-ed curriculum, unanimously endorsed by the board six months earlier. In validation of the CRC's concerns, Williams wrote that the court was "extremely troubled by the willingness of Montgomery County Public Schools to venture -- or perhaps more correctly bound -- into the crossroads of controversy where religion, morality, and homosexuality converge."
Who is this group that has now garnered national recognition for its successful contest with one of the most powerful public school administrations in the country?
They are neighbors and fellow parents who incorporated as a nonprofit organization in December 2004. The immediate goal was to stop the biased attempts to address sexual variations (including homosexuality, bisexuality, transgender and transsexuality) in an alarming manner. The new curriculum was using activist-based teacher resources that were to present these as natural and acceptable lifestyles while condemning those whose religious beliefs and moral values cannot support this controversial viewpoint.
The group also found plenty of misinformation in the new condom video, "Protect Yourself," which graphically demonstrated condom use. During subsequent local drives to gather support and inform the public, members of CRC obtained more than 4,000 signatures on petitions against the initiatives approved by the school board.
Within days of Williams's ruling, Superintendent Jerry D. Weast unilaterally cancelled the implementation of the new Family Life and Health Development curriculum, discarded the new condom video and disbanded the biased Citizens Advisory Committee, which had been responsible for the now-discredited changes to an otherwise excellent sex-ed curriculum.
The parent groups are guardedly optimistic that the Board of Education will fulfill agreements reached in a June 27 out-of-court settlement. The CRC will be vigilant so that the rewrite of the curriculum does not discriminate against any marginalized group, such as ex-gays, or commit viewpoint discrimination related to religious and cultural values.
Contrary to accusations from its critics, the CRC does not wish to remove discussions about contraceptives in the school curriculum. The CRC does not recommend an abstinence-only sex-ed approach, either. The CRC has not joined with any larger groups; it has stayed dedicated to its local roots.
In the coming school year, the CRC will host public information meetings featuring leading experts in medicine and social services to focus on the health and psychological risks of adolescent sexual activities. The CRC remains dedicated to helping to educate students and parents about all the facts related to sexual orientation, lifestyles, choices and health risks.
As part of this community service, the CRC maintains an informative Web site, www.mcpscurriculum.com. In fulfillment of its vision to be a voice for the community, an additional public forum at www.forum34.oli.us/crc/index.php is available to encourage parent and citizen exchanges.