Last month, a federal judge found the Montgomery County School Board's sex-education pilot plan in Maryland so flagrantly in violation of the First Amendment that he had to hand down a restraining order. (Either that or hand in his gavel forever.) With the sex-ed plan's legal route blocked, the school board ditched the whole idea for now, along with the citizens committee that waved it through in the first place, despite plenty of flapping red flags.
OK, there were two really big red flags. Judge Alexander Williams Jr. called one "viewpoint discrimination" because, as he wrote, the new curriculum for 10th graders was supposed to teach that "homosexuality is a natural and morally correct lifestyle -- to the exclusion of other perspectives." Also outrageous was the way the curriculum promoted certain religions to the exclusion of others. In touting "the moral rightness of the homosexual lifestyle," the judge wrote, the curriculum suggested that "the Baptist Church's position on homosexuality is theologically flawed," and reminiscent of the racial prejudice of the segregation era. At the same time, the curriculum applauded Reform Jews, Unitarians and Quakers for promoting an activist homosexual political agenda. If you're wondering when religious prejudice or favoritism became a subject fit for the public schools to preach -- I mean, teach -- the answer is never. And that's what the court ruled.
But imagine if the school board had been smart enough to reel in those First Amendment red flags on which this particular sex-ed course was hung out to dry. Would Montgomery County teens be sitting down to become both "informed" and desensitized by the course's instructional video on how to apply a condom to a cucumber? Would these kids be reflecting on their curriculum's no doubt scholarly treatment of all manner of sexual experimentation? In this hyper-sexualized culture of ours, I'm afraid the answer has to be yes.
But kudos to the parents in Montgomery County who banded together to stop this sex-ed train on its way out of the station. After it retools, the same basic train will undoubtedly chug away in the fall. My question is, do we like where it's going, and, if not, how do we get off?