Sunday, May 08, 2005

# Posted 1:46 AM by Ariel David Adesnik  

MORE IGNORANT CHRISTIAN FUNDAMENTALISTS? Read this front page article about the new sex-ed curriculum in Maryland's Montgomery County and tell me if you think that the conservative activists opposed to the curriculum are ignorant or well, uh, ignorant. Because that certainly is the impression left by the WaPo's correspondents. Here's the lede:
Maryland's largest school system has become a battleground over what students should be taught about sex and a symbol, some supporters of the new curriculum said, of the increasing influence the conservative movement is hoping to play in public school classrooms.
Interesting how the lede focuses on the opinion of the curriculum's supporters. But you'll see that that's no accident. Here's the first opinion we hear about what's going on in Montgomery County:
"It looks like we're in Kansas after all. I'm appalled. I'm appalled," said Charlotte Fremaux, a parent leader at Bethesda-Chevy Chase High School, one of six campuses that was to be a pilot site for the sex-ed lessons. "Next, they'll be challenging evolution."
Next we hear from a sociology professor who says that
"It's not an anomaly to have these conflicts break out in liberal, well-to-do school districts,"...

"In those districts, folks are often shocked, but really it only takes a handful of parents to start what can become a bitter and quite divisive campaign."
In other words, a "handful" of conservatives can prevent an overwhelming liberal majority from educating their children the way they want to. So what are those conservative parents' objections to the new curriculum?
They said that though the "Protect Yourself" video discussed condoms, it did not note the dangers associated with anal and oral sex.
Later on in the article, we hear once again from the sociologist. She says:
We've had a growing political Christian right movement that since the 1960s has used sex-ed as an important battleground.
I see. This issue is being "used". There's no substance to it.

How do the conservative activists respond to that accusation?
"We really feel we represent the mainstream,'' said John Garza, the [conservative parents'] group's attorney and vice president.
Wait, but didn't we already learn that liberalism is the real mainstream in Montogomery Country? Even so, one parent who opposes the new curriculum says that,
"All we hear is how liberal Montgomery County is. There's actually quite a few conservatives in the county."
And that's how the article ends. With a conservative seemingly oblivious to how she lives in a majority liberal neighborhood.

Now, if you read this WaPo article online, you wouldn't be in much of a position to comment about the substance of this debate, because the article says almost nothing about the actual contents of the new curriculum. But the print edition of the Post provides some excerpts in an illustration on page A9. Here's my favorite part:
Myth: Homosexuality is a sin.

Facts: Religion has often been misused to justify hatred and oppression. Less than a half a century ago, Baptist churches (among others) in this country defended racial segregation on the basis that it was condoned by the Bible. Early Christians were not hostile to homosexuals.
Wow. Talk about fair and balanced. I'm adamantly pro-gay rights, but should public school teachers be taking an official position on what is or isn't a sin? Will we promote understanding by teaching children that those who oppose gay rights are just as bad as racists?

But what's really crazy about all of this is the way the WaPo's front page article leaves the impression that irrational conservatives are objecting to the new curriculum for no good reason. To be fair, the article briefly mentions the opinion of a judge who dismissed most of the conservatives' arguments as unfounded but
Said he was disturbed by references to specific religious denominations in the teachers' guide and what he characterized as a one-sided portrayal of homosexuality.
Hmm. That's a pretty vague way to desribe a sex-ed curriculum with a clear-cut theological agenda. Interestingly enough, a masthead editorial in Saturday's post also mentions that
School officials need to remove some of the inappropriate "teacher resource" material accompanying the curriculum, particularly documents that praise some religious denominations and criticize others; it's no wonder some parents were upset about that.
Yeah, no wonder. That kind of preaching in the schoolroom is offensive enough that it might even belong on the front page.
(0) opinions -- Add your opinion

Comments: Post a Comment