Thursday, July 05, 2007

Parental rights? Youth Rights? What is the balance? The Christian legal group Liberty Counsel says it is considering whether to file another federal lawsuit challenging a sex-education program in Maryland's largest school district

Last week the Maryland State Board of Education ruled in favor of a sex-ed program in Montgomery County that affirms homosexuality, transgenderism, and teen condom use. In the 17-page opinion, the state panel said it would not "second-guess the appropriateness" of the curriculum. It also claimed that the right of parents to control their children's upbringing "is not absolute" and "must bend to the state's duty to educate its citizens."
Liberty Counsel founder Mat Staver says such a claim is contrary to common sense and American history. "Schools should not be an adversary to the parent," he says; "they should be an extension of the parents' wishes -- because, after all, they are engaged in helping the parent bring up the child in the parents' value system."
But according to the Christian attorney, that is no longer the case in public education. "[W]hat we're now seeing is exactly the opposite," he laments. "We're seeing schools, and even some courts, say that indeed there could be this adversarial relationship, and that parents' rights cease to exist, essentially, when they drop their child off at the schoolhouse gate."
Staver succeeded in getting a federal judge to block implementation of the district's previous sex-ed program, which denigrated religions that oppose homosexuality on biblical grounds. According to the Washington Post, many parents in Montgomery County oppose the new curriculum, which opponents say presents a favorable viewpoint of homosexuality and restricts religious expression by suppressing the view that homosexuality is a sin. The attorney believes the new curriculum may also be subject to litigation.
"We don't have any timeframe as to when [we'll decide] to file a federal lawsuit," he explains. "In fact, what we may end up doing is either consider the federal lawsuit prior to the implementation of this curriculum, or even see how this curriculum is applied in real life and consider a challenge at that stage. But either way, we're going to give this a serious look."
Staver says state and local boards of education should be operating under dictates and parameters set up by parents -- not undermining parents' values, as is the case in Montgomery County. He argues that every state in the country should have statutory protections that recognize the role of parents in the education and well-being of their children.


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