Gay rights battle over school sex education

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LGBT advocacy group Lambda Legal has announced it will represent a branch of Parents, Families, and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG) in a lawsuit over a decision by the Montgomery County School Board in Maryland to include information about sexual orientation as part of the health education curriculum for 8th and 10th graders.

The “Respect for Differences in Human Sexuality” curriculum will provide education on sexual orientation that includes medically accurate information as it relates to homosexuality, according to a press release from the organisation.

“Schools have a right to create an accurate curriculum, not a curriculum guided by individual beliefs,” said Hayley Gorenberg, deputy legal director of Lambda Legal.

“In Geography class teachers aren’t required to teach that the Earth is flat just because someone believes it.”

On June 12th, the Montgomery County School Board voted to implement the curriculum for the upcoming school year. The county, just north of Washington DC, is one of the most affluent areas of the US.

The lessons had been field tested in several schools and received the recommendation of the Citizens Advisory Committee on Family Life and Development.

However, opposing groups Citizens for a Responsible Curriculum, Parents and Friends of Ex-Gays and Gays, and Family Leader Network, have challenged the curriculum and appealed the decision to implement it to the Maryland State Board of Education, which dismissed the challenge.

The groups have now appealed that decision to the Circuit Court for Montgomery County seeking to have it overturned.

Christine Grewell, who co-founded the organisation Teach the Facts to support the new curriculum, said:

“As a mother who raised three children in this school system, I understand that education is key in dispelling the idea that being lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender (LGBT) is an illness or taboo.

“Children deserve an education that will help them have a better understanding and respect for themselves and others.”

David S. Fishback, a member of Metro DC PFLAG: “Our two now-adult sons are gay, and we know that if there had been such a curriculum when they were teenagers, their lives would have been much easier.

“We owe it to both LGBT and straight students to provide medically accurate information, for ignorance breeds fear. No child should have to go through school in fear of themselves or others.”

“Classrooms are for facts-and for many LGBT youth, their classrooms will be the first place that they find out that even though they feel ‘different’ they’re completely normal and healthy,” said Jody M. Huckaby, executive director of PFLAG National.

“Making sure that our schools are relaying this fact is an issue to parents everywhere and the obligation of our schools.”

The papers filed by Lambda Legal seek to participate in the ongoing lawsuit between the Montgomery County School Board and the groups opposed to the curriculum.

Source: Lambda Legal

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