Maryland Sex Ed. Program Violates Constitution, Says Court

1A federal judged has blocked a Maryland public school district from implementing a sex education curriculum, finding that it violates the free speech and religious liberty rights of students.

The Montgomery County Public Schools Board of Education had approved a revised eighth- and tenth-grade sex education curriculum last year upon recommendations of a 27-member citizens advisory committee.

Only days before the curriculum was to be taught in a few of the district’s schools, two Religious Right groups, Citizens for a Responsible Curriculum and Parents and Friends of Ex-Gays, filed a lawsuit seeking to prevent the teaching of the courses.

U.S. District Court Judge Alexander Williams Jr., in a 22-page opinion issued May 5, said the curriculum ran afoul of the First Amendment and issued a preliminary injunction against it.

“The Revised Curriculum notes that ‘Fundamentalists are more likely to have negative attitudes about gay people than those with other religious views,” Williams wrote in Citizens for a Responsible Curriculum v. Montgomery County Public Schools.

Williams seemed particularly concerned about the way Baptists were portrayed in the curriculum.

“Most disturbingly,” the judge held, “the Revised Curriculum juxtaposes this portrait of an intolerant and Biblically misguided Baptist Church against other, preferred Churches, which are more friendly towards the homosexual lifestyle.”

Montgomery public schools officials told The Washington Post that beyond discussing abstinence and sexually transmitted diseases, it was a goal of the curriculum to foster greater tolerance of gay students.