Sex education materials up for review this fall by the Montgomery County (Md.) Public School Board of Education are riddled with inaccuracies, charges Henrietta Brown. A former member of the county’s Citizens Advisory Committee on Family Life and Human Development, Brown listed numerous sources approved by the committee that she hopes will face thorough scrutiny by the Board before being approved for use in sex education curriculum for 8th and 10th graders.
Montgomery County is a suburb of Washington, D. C. Brown, whose place on the committee was not renewed this June for reasons she called “suspicious,” worries that the resources up for review often color or evade the truth, basing their statements on outdated and one-sided information. “So much of the approved information runs counter to the State Regulations’ statement that the information has to be factually correct,” according to Brown.
Among her chief complaints is the way the issue of sexual orientation is dealt with. Most of the resources approved, she pointed out, are published by non-medical, non-professional homosexual advocacy groups such as Parents, Families, and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG).
Advocacy for Youth, one such advocacy group which authored a resource approved by the committee, recommends on its website that in order to meet other bisexuals, bisexuals should “look for local GLBT [gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered] newspapers.” It advises checking “local bookstores, health food stores, and gay bars for copies.”
The group’s website also states that “between three and ten percent of the general population is probably exclusively homosexual in orientation.” However, it does go on to estimate that “perhaps another ten percent of the general population feel attracted to both genders.” So the group is putting the homosexual/bisexual proportion of the population at about 13 to 20%. In contrast, a 2003 amicus curiae brief filed on behalf of a coalition of 31 pro-homosexual activist groups in the Lawrence v. Texas Supreme Court case counts 4.2% of the population to be gay or bisexual.
Brown also criticizes Advocacy for Youth for attributing the social and emotional problems homosexual youth face to societal prejudice rather than their sexual orientation itself. She points to a study conducted in the Netherlands, a society practically free of sexual taboos, which found that homosexuals are still more prone to psychiatric disorders.
The seemingly more mainstream American Psychiatric Association (APA) is not immune to bias, Brown said. “Homosexual and Bisexual Issues”, published by APA in February 2000 and approved by the committee Brown sat on, “contains one-sided discussions of controversial social issues such as civil rights for homosexuality, discrimination based on gender, [and] homosexuality in the Armed Services,” she points out. She challenges the APA’s assertion that “hate crimes [toward homosexuals] are prevalent,” citing the 2002 FBI Fact Sheet for Hate Crime Statistics. According to the FBI’s 2002 statistics, 16.4% of 9,211 single-bias hate crimes and 4 of 11 hate-induced murders (36%) were directed against homosexuals.
One resource called homosexuality as sin a “myth,” and several recommended “specific homosexual affirming religious organizations” for youth who feel ostracized by their current faith, Brown remembers.
Brown also called into question the Teen Pregnancy Information Center, a committee-approved website written by a former teenage mother concerned with the stigma attached to teen parenthood. “Your age places no limit on the kind of parent you can be or the kind of life you can have,” the site reads.
Brown recounted one sex education video approved by the committee called “Hope is not a Method,” which focused on contraception methods and demonstrated how to put on a condom. “One portion of the video shows a cheerful woman exclaiming, ‘and flavored ones are great for oral sex!’” she claimed. Although not optimistic about the ultimate rejection of most of the resources she finds disingenuous, she predicts the Board will say no to this one.
Produced by Planned Parenthood of Syracuse, N. Y. in 2002, “Hope is not a Method” is in its fifth edition.
“The majority of the members of this Citizens Advisory Committee on Family Life and Human Development are promoting an agenda without regard to the children’s health and safety,” Brown lamented.
She described an open committee meeting as “stacked” with gay advocates. Interestingly, “there was an ex-gay that applied to be on the committee and was rejected,” she wrote.
Brown suspects her dismissal was a result of her outspokenness. “I would write the BOE and Superintendent expressing my concerns at the incorrect information that was being approved by the committee because nowhere could the BOE know about the false information unless someone told them.”
A chemistry major, Brown worked for the National Institutes of Standards and Technology for 26 years before retiring. Of the four committee members up for renewal—none of whom, Brown noted, had either the time or the inclination to verify the facts—only she did not receive enough votes from the school board to be reinstated.
Michele Nagar, a rising freshman at the University of Maryland, was an intern this summer at Accuracy in Academia.