Teaching homosexuality in school???? Updated with a news article concerning this
I saw this in another group but what do you think of the idea of teaching about homosexuality in schools?
Here is an article from NYTimes concnerning on school district implementing this last year: http://www.nytimes.com/2007/08/15/education/15education.html
Lessons on Homosexuality Move Into the Classroom
After five years, one legal defeat and a challenge on the way, Montgomery County, Md., is at the frontier of sex education in the United States. This fall, barring last-minute court action, the county will offer lessons on homosexuality in its 8th- and 10th-grade health education courses.
To school officials, the lessons are a natural outgrowth of sex education and of teachings on tolerance and diversity. They consist of two heavily scripted, 45-minute lessons for each grade and a video demonstrating how to put on a condom. The lessons’ central message is respect and acceptance of the many permutations of sexual identity, both in others and in one’s self.
School officials said they were not seeking to promote a political agenda, beyond tolerance and a kind of cultural literacy. “Our charge starts with educating students,” said Betsy Brown, who supervised the curriculum’s development in consultation with the American Academy of Pediatrics. “This is part of education.”
But critics, who have filed lawsuits seeking to stop the lessons, contended that the Montgomery County schools, just north of Washington, have gone too far. John Garza, president of the Citizens for a Responsible Curriculum, a group leading the opposition, said parents can block television shows they deem morally questionable, “but then we have the schoolteacher affirming unhealthy behavior.”
Montgomery is a mostly well-educated, politically liberal enclave. But opponents of the new curriculum, portrayed as a vocal minority by school officials, may be more in sync with the mood of parents nationally.
According to a 2004 national poll by the Kaiser Family Foundation, Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government and National Public Radio, roughly three out of four parents say it is appropriate for high schools to teach about homosexuality, but about half say it is appropriate in middle school.
WHEN asked about the issue in greater detail, more than 50 percent of high school and middle school parents supported teaching what homosexuality is about “without discussing whether it is wrong or acceptable.” Only 8 percent of high school parents and 4 percent of middle school parents said schools should teach “that homosexuality is acceptable.” The survey had a margin of error of 6 percentage points.
Montgomery County may be ahead of the country on sex education, but it may also just be out there, stranded on its own.
The controversy illustrates how fraught the road can be for educators who venture beyond academics to influence students about sensitive social issues, risking not just lawsuits, but also losing step with parents and voters. In New York City, the controversy 14 years ago over the “rainbow curriculum,” which included the book “Heather Has Two Mommies” as a first-grade text, cost Chancellor Joseph A. Fernandez his job.
“It’s a myth that our schools don’t teach values about lots of things,” said Debra W. Haffner, director of the Religious Institute on Sexual Morality, Justice and Healing, which promotes discussions about sexuality. “We don’t put communism, socialism and capitalism on an equal footing in our classes on government.”
But for a raft of reasons, many of them unconscious, teaching about sexuality is different, said Susan K. Freeman, a historian at Minnesota State University, Mankato.
For many parents, boy-girl dating may not mean that their child is sexually active, she said. By coming out as gay, though, “they’re announcing their sexuality.” Parents make a tacit assumption of sexual activity, and “that presents a problem for a lot of people,” she said.
The Montgomery County lessons begin by defining terms like “prejudice,” “homosexual” and “transgender,” and warn students not to assume that because they are not yet attracted to the opposite sex, they must be gay. The eighth-grade curriculum tells gay students that “concerns about how family and friends will accept the situation are reasonable, and fears about being teased or even attacked are not unfounded.”
In the 10th grade, the lessons, which presume that sexual identity is innate, again discuss the stresses of coming out, but add, “Many people who are gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender celebrate their self-discovery.”
Kevin Jennings, the executive director of the New York-based Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network, said the curriculum could reduce bullying over sexual identity.
“I don’t know how denying information to young people about sexuality or sexual orientation does anything to promote their health and well being,” he said.
Mr. Garza objected to schools teaching that homosexuality is not subject to change and failing to mention higher rates of some venereal diseases among gay men. “When you get into these hotly contested areas of moral judgment, that’s where the school needs to get out of it, or at least teach all sides,” he said.
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