Board Revisits Rule on Gays: Critics Predict Official Acceptance, Advocacy of Lifestyle in Classroom
Scheets, Gary, The Washington Times (Washington, DC)
The Montgomery County school board will decide tonight whether to keep its revised human relations policy that some say promotes homosexuality in the classroom.
After changes were agreed to in January, a tide of public criticism, mainly from church and parent groups, flooded in.
The changes would add "sexual orientation" to a list that prohibits discrimination based on race, gender, age, national origin, religion, disability and marital status.
The changes came as a result of a survey by the Montgomery County Committee on Hate/Violence in which 635 Montgomery County high school students were asked whether the school system was doing enough to combat discrimination against homosexual students.
Of those surveyed, 53 percent said the board was not.
Those who oppose the changes say including sexual orientation means an official acceptance and endorsement of the homosexual lifestyle.
Board members on both sides of the issue say the revisions do not attempt to promote homosexuality as an alternative lifestyle.
Board member Stephen Abrams said the board needs to make it plain that while there will be no tolerance of discrimination against homosexual students or employees, there also will be no advocacy of the homosexual lifestyle.
"It is no one's intention to place homosexuality on the same plane as race or ethnicity," said Mr. Abrams, who represents District 2. "No one will have to celebrate or advocate homosexuality."
Mr. Abrams said the board needs to make sure that homosexuality and the homosexual lifestyle are not included with other elements of diversity, such as race and gender, that are recognized by the school system.
Geoffrey Ferri, 39, a self-employed businessman from Darnestown who has a son and a daughter in public schools, said the current human relations policy covers students and staff adequately. To list sexual orientation would not be appropriate.
"There should be no discrimination against anyone," Mr. Ferri said. "But when you start asking for special consideration with regard to sexual orientation, with that comes new curriculum and new training."
Jerry Loux, 47, a real estate broker from Potomac who has two daughters in the school system, believes that the changes are "fair" and that the only consideration should be the welfare of the students.
"It is the right thing to do," said Mr. Loux. "The agendas of the parents should come second. …