We have been following with great interest the controversy over sex education in the Montgomery County, Maryland public schools. On Thursday, U.S. District Judge Alexander Williams issued a temporary restraining order that prevented any implementation of the new curriculum. On Friday, the district’s school superintendent, Jerry D. Weast, announced that the program has been suspended, at least temporarily. The curriculum was truly radical, featuring such outrages as a film showing students how to use a condom–complete with a demonstration using a cucumber. The new program also included outrageous claims about homosexuality and “sexual variance.” Still, much of the public didn’t know just how bad it was until Judge Williams issued his ruling. The most salient point of the judge’s order was its basis–that the proposed sex education curriculum represented a form of religious discrimination. Indeed, the curriculum openly attacked churches that believe homosexuality to be sinful. It seems that the new curriculum includes a “Myths and Facts” handout apparently taken from a pro-homosexuality advocacy group Look closely at these statements drawn from the handout, cited in the judge’s order and memorandum: “The Bible contains six passages which condemn homosexual behavior. The Bible also contains numerous passages condemning heterosexual behavior. Theologians and Biblical scholars continue to differ on many Biblical interpretations. They agree on one thing, however. Jesus said absolutely nothing at all about homosexuality. Among the many things deemed an abomination are adultery, incest, wearing clothing made from more than one kind of fiber, and eating shellfish, like shrimp and lobster. 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. Intolerance became the dominant attitude only after the Twelfth Century. Today, many people no longer tolerate generalizations about homosexuality as pathology or sin. Few would condemn heterosexuality as immoral–despite the high incidence of rape, incest, child abuse, adultery, family violence, promiscuity, and venereal disease among heterosexuals. Fortunately, many within organized religions are beginning to address the homophobia of the church. The National Council of Churches of Christ, the Union of American Hebrew Congregations, the Unitarian Universalist Association, the Society of Friends (Quakers), and the Universal Fellowship of Metropolitan Community Churches support full civil rights for gay men and lesbians, as they do for everyone else.” As you might expect, there is much, much more. Maryland citizens should be thankful for this judge’s ruling. The rest of us should take a closer look at what is at stake.

FOR FURTHER READING: Read Judge Alexander Williams’ ruling and memorandum, as well as news reports at The Washington Post and The Washington Times. See also this editorial from The Washington Times and the Web site of Citizens for a Responsible Curriculum.