Clicking on banner ads enables JWR to constantly improve
Jewish World Review May 16, 2005 / 7 Iyar, 5765

John Leo

John Leo
JWR's Pundits
World Editorial
Cartoon Showcase

Mallard Fillmore

Michael Barone
Mona Charen
Linda Chavez
Ann Coulter
Greg Crosby
Larry Elder
Don Feder
Suzanne Fields
Paul Greenberg
Bob Greene
Betsy Hart
Nat Hentoff
David Horowitz
Marianne Jennings
Michael Kelly
Mort Kondracke
Ch. Krauthammer
Lawrence Kudlow
Dr. Laura
John Leo
David Limbaugh
Michelle Malkin
Chris Matthews
Michael Medved
Kathleen Parker
Wes Pruden
Sam Schulman
Amity Shlaes
Roger Simon
Tony Snow
Thomas Sowell
Cal Thomas
Jonathan S. Tobin
Ben Wattenberg
George Will
Bruce Williams
Walter Williams
Mort Zuckerman

Consumer Reports

Sex for Dummies | When covering a dispute over sex education in public schools, many reporters know what to do. Just type that the fundamentalist yahoos are at it again. For all we know, editors have installed a special timesaving key on newsroom computers so that the usual sex-ed news article pops out in 15 seconds or less. A classic example is the front-page Washington Post piece for Saturday, May 7, dealing with a new pilot program in Montgomery County, Md. The reporters managed to associate the protests with national right-wing Christian politics, the anti-evolution crusade, and Dorothy's discovery in the Wizard of Oz that she wasn't in Kansas anymore. (For a deft takedown of the bias in this piece, go to and scroll down to the May 8 analysis "More Ignorant Christian Fundamentalists?")
The school system withdrew the curriculum, for the current school term at least, after a federal judge, Alexander Williams Jr., issued a 10-day restraining order on two First Amendment grounds. Those grounds were viewpoint discrimination (the curriculum teaches "the moral rightness of the homosexual lifestyle" to the exclusion of other perspectives, the judge said) and state entanglement in religion. The curriculum depicts the churches that endorse homosexuality as theologically sound, while singling out Baptists and fundamentalists for scorn. Churches differ, the curriculum says, but all agree that Jesus said nothing about homosexuality. Why the state should involve itself in telling us which religions are wrong and what Jesus said or didn't say is obscure.

Resistance to anything-goes sexual preaching in the schools is routinely depicted as a phenomenon of conservative Christians, but in an analysis of health textbooks, Gilbert Sewall of the American Textbook Council says that the sexual assumptions of the aggressive "health lobby" offend lots of Americans of all faiths and none. Sewall wants sex education to find a middle ground between abstinence-only programs and the muscular "health lobby."

Even apart from church-state entanglement, the Montgomery curriculum is out of line in dismissing moral claims as myths. On what basis can a state institution tell parents and children that their morality is faulty? In dealing with homosexuality, the job of the school is to teach tolerance, not to disparage traditional views. Gays are our neighbors and should be treated with respect. Citizens for a Responsible Curriculum, one of two local groups opposing the curriculum, makes this point clearly.

"Teaching respect for persons with same-sex attraction is appropriate and right," the group says. "But demanding affirmation of a homosexual orientation and behavior goes beyond the ethic of tolerance." The curriculum does in fact teach approval of homosexuality. Understandably, gays want that approval, but it can't be imposed by state schools.

Indoctrination. Much of the most contested material is tucked away in the teachers' resources guide. Citizens for a Responsible Curriculum complains that health teachers did not mention or show the teachers' materials at parent meetings. "When asked about them," the group said, "the standard answer was they were 'for the teachers only to use and not of interest to the parents.'"

There's a reason why so many sex-ed specialists slide into indoctrination almost without noticing what they are doing. The programs are often prepared with heavy input from Planned Parenthood, gay groups, and the Sexuality Information and Education Council of the United States, all of which operate on assumptions that much of the public does not share. One assumption is that sex is simply a smorgasbord of choice, and it doesn't really make any difference whom you have sex with or how, as long as you have orgasms and use contraceptives. "Oral, anal, and vaginal sex" all require condoms, says an earnest young woman in a video (since withdrawn from the curriculum) that demonstrates the proper way to place a condom on a cucumber. Elsewhere, the curriculum says, "Sex play with friends of the same gender is not uncommon during early adolescence." Whatever.

The strangest aspect of the Montgomery curriculum is the insistence that students should ponder their gender identity. In plain English, this means boys should examine whether they really want to be boys, and girls should wonder if they should be girls. This is a current obsession in the world of sex ed, apparently inserted here to accommodate transvestites and transsexuals.

The good news is that local parents and their friends were able to make a solid case, take it to a reasonable judge, and get the county to back down, at least for now. It's a model of how dissenters in other communities should act.

Every weekday publishes what many in Washington and in the media consider "must reading." Sign up for the daily JWR update. It's free. Just click here.

JWR contributor John Leo's latest book is Incorrect Thoughts: Notes on Our Wayward Culture. Send your comments by clicking here.


John Leo Archives

Copyright ©2005 Universal Press Syndicate

  Click here for more John Leo