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Posted at 9:41 PM ET, 10/29/2010

My views on sex ed aren't anti-gay

By washingtonpost.com editors

By Martha Schaerr
Derwood

In Michael Birnbaum's Oct. 27 news article, "School board hopeful has new focus," David Fishback of the D.C. chapter of Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays was quoted as saying that my views on the sex-ed curriculum are "antithetical to the health and welfare of . . . gay students," implying that I or my views are somehow "anti-gay." I disagree. I share his opposition to bullying of any student -- especially the most vulnerable ones -- and desire to work with him and anyone else to eliminate unkindness and marginalization.

I do not agree, however, that schools should be teaching students that sexual orientation is inevitably innate and that this is the only legitimate view of the issue. As the American Psychological Association has recently stated, "Although much research has examined the possible genetic, hormonal, developmental, social, and cultural influences on sexual orientation, no findings have emerged that permit scientists to conclude that sexual orientation . . . is determined by any particular factor or factors. Many think that nature and nurture both play complex roles."

The curriculum should leave students free to determine for themselves whether sexual orientation is a matter of heredity, environment, choice or some combination. Allowing students to make that decision for themselves is not "anti-gay." Nor is it "anti-gay" to seek to ensure that all students are given clear information about the health risks of any sexual practices discussed in the curriculum. American teens -- both gay and straight -- are acquiring sexually transmitted diseases in epidemic proportions. If we're going to talk about anal sex in a health class or a condom video, it's irresponsible not to warn students -- especially gay students -- about the medical evidence showing the heightened health risks of anal sex compared with vaginal sex, even with a condom.

The writer is a candidate for the District 5 seat on the Montgomery County School Board.

By washingtonpost.com editors  | October 29, 2010; 9:41 PM ET
Categories:  HotTopic, Montgomery County  
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Comments

Then it's equally irresponsible not to tell students --especially gay students-- that anal sex is not the same thing as "gay sex", that there are many other (even more common) ways that gay people are intimate, and that most are safer than vaginal sex, for example. Right? You do care about the truth, right?

I am gay. I have been in a committed, monogamous relationship with a wonderful man for decades. We are both healthy, and are less risk takers than the average heterosexual college student.

And, Ms. Schaerr, I would also like you to inform all our readers that it's far better for two gay people to fall in love, marry and live in a committed, monogamous relationship for the rest of their lives than it would be to, say, marry your heterosexual sibling or child just for the sake of trying to fit in. Healthy both physically and mentally, right?

Sorry, but I find your post to be disingenuous. I don't believe you are really interested in helping young gay people find health and happiness.

You seem more intent in pushing a political message that is both irresponsible and incorrect.

Shame on you.

Posted by: ricklinguist | October 29, 2010 10:11 PM | Report abuse

"The curriculum should leave students free to determine for themselves whether sexual orientation is a matter of heredity, environment, choice or some combination."

Want to know if I "choose" to be gay? Simply ask me.

I am gay. I didn't "choose" to be gay. I was "there" the entire time. The notion that people "choose" their sexual orientation isn't a scientific question.

That doesn't mean I know what determines sexual orientation. Could be genetic. Could be hormonal. Could be that I was dropped on my head as an infant (no evidence for that one, however).

Don't know. But to imply it "could be" a choice is to deny the very real experience of those of us who grew up and struggled to understand why we were "different" and in many cases (mine included), despite desperate efforts to NOT be gay (celibate the entire time-- a "virgin"-- I might add), it simply doesn't work that way.

Time for a little bit of truth telling, Ms. Schaerr. Telling students that they can "choose" their sexual orientation is misleading.

And exceedingly cruel.

Posted by: ricklinguist | October 29, 2010 10:18 PM | Report abuse

Ms. Schaerr seeks to support the view propounded by the groups in which she has been active -- that being gay is or may be a choice that can be reversed by "therapies" -- by stating that the American Psychological Association (APA) has said that "no findings have emerged that permit scientists to conclude that sexual orientation . . . is determined by any particular factor or factors." It is true that scientists have not determined the PRECISE etiology of sexual orientation, gay or straight. But the fact is that every mainstream American medical and mental health care professional association, including the APA, has concluded that being gay is not a choice and that so-called reparative or conversion therapies are dangerous.

The APA addresses these issues directly in its excellent publication, Just the Facts About Sexual Orientation and Youth: A Primer for Principals, Educators, and School Personnel, which may be found at http://www.apa.org/pi/lgbt/resources/just-the-facts.aspx. Just the Facts is endorsed by, among others, the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Counseling Association, the American School Counselor Association, the American School Health Association, the National Association of School Psychologists, and the National Association of Social Workers. It is noteworthy that the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), in a report available at http://aappolicy.aappublications.org/cgi/content/full/pediatrics;113/6/1827, states that the American Psychiatric Association has found that "homosexuality [is] . . . not a mental disorder." The AAP further concludes that “sexual orientation is not a choice; that is, individuals do not choose to be homosexual or heterosexual," nor is it something "that voluntarily can be changed." The AAP also concludes that it is clear that "there is no scientific evidence that abnormal parenting, sexual abuse, or other adverse life events influence sexual orientation."

Moreover, the American Medical Association explicitly opposes “therapies” based on the incorrect premise that gay people are ill or that they should change their sexual orientation. See AMA Policy Number H-160.991 Health Care Needs of the Homosexual Population, available at http://www.ama-assn.org/ama/pub/about-ama/our-people/member-groups-sections/glbt-advisory-committee/ama-policy-regarding-sexual-orientation.shtml

Gay people can live happy, healthy, and productive lives consistent with their true sexual orientation. Letting gay youth know this,and being supportive of them and their families, is vital to these children's health. And providing this accurate information can reduced and has reduced, and hopefully someday will help eliminate, the bullying that has led to tragic suicides like those recently reported around the country.

David S. Fishback
Advocacy Chair, Metro DC PFLAG

Posted by: vista1969 | October 29, 2010 11:01 PM | Report abuse

IT IS GENETICS BEING RE-ENFORCED BY NATURE ie ESTROGEN IN FOOD/ WATER/ AIR/PLASTICS etc.

SIN INVOLVES A CHOICE, ESTROGEN IN THE FOOD -WATER-AIR SOURCES AND IN GENETICS IS NOT A CHOICE, ITS NOT A SIN OR "GOD" WOULD BE UNJUST IN THESE TWO MAIN AREAS ( FOOD/ GENES) :

GOOGLE/ YOUTUBE /Wikipedia the terms: "INTERSEX" AND "XXY /XXXY MALES " IT'S ALL SCIENTIFIC FACT, people ARE BORN with both fully, ENVIRONMENTAL ESTROGEN RE-ENFORCES IT
Complete AIS means that the person will look absolutely FEMALE OR MALE from the outside. However AIS is only one of about 75 KNOWN different intersex GENETIC conditions ,and 'INTERSEX/ XXY/ XXXY MALES" occurs in ALL RACES. (ADA) PROTECTS NORMAL HUMAN BIOLOGICAL GENETIC VARIANTS

SEEING THAT SCIENCE AGAIN HAS CLEARED THE WAY THEN, THEREFORE RELIGIOUS/ POLITICAL AND OTHERS etc MAY BE LIABLE FOR THEIR INHUMANE HATE SPEECH THAT BOTH INSIGHT TERRORIST VIOLENCE & CIVIL RIGHTS VIOLATIONS , SEE THE (ADA) FED LAW & KKK CASE LAW PRECEDENCE, THE US PATRIOT ACT AND NATIONAL SECURITY ACT FOR TERRORISM AGAINST ANY US CITIZEN

"ADAM KADMON" THE IMAGE OF "YHVH GOD" WAS CREATED AN HERMAPHRODITE AND MANKIND WILL BECOME THAT AGAIN, ie MARRIAGE IS THE CONTRACTUAL CEREMONY FOR THE HERMAPHRODITE FUTURE OF MANKIND ie (THE TWO BECOME ONE FLESH AS IN THE BEGINNING), TO SQUARE THE CIRCLE, MALES =TESTO ANGULAR SQUARE IN FACE (MARS) AND FEMALE= ESTRO ARE ROUNDISH CIRCLE (VENUS), THE HERMAPHRODITE IS BOTH=T-ESTRO (ANDROGENIC DHEA) ie OCTOGENARIAN IN FACES (HERMES/ DIANA), =BOTH STATIC AND MOVABLE AT THE SAME TIME AND PLACE ie THE 2SPIRIT BEING CAN TRAVEL WITHOUT MOVING ie HERMETIC LIBERAL ARTS AND SCIENCES (LAW/ CIVILIZATION)

Posted by: shaiarra | October 29, 2010 11:36 PM | Report abuse

Ms. Schaerr seeks to support the view propounded by the groups in which she has been active -- that being gay is or may be a choice that can be reversed by "therapies" -- by stating that the American Psychological Association (APA) has said that "no findings have emerged that permit scientists to conclude that sexual orientation . . . is determined by any particular factor or factors." It is true that scientists have not determined the PRECISE etiology of sexual orientation, gay or straight. But the fact is that every mainstream American medical and mental health care professional association, including the APA, has concluded that being gay is not a choice and that so-called reparative or conversion therapies are dangerous.

David S. Fishback
Advocacy Chair, Metro DC PFLAG

--------------
The APA, AMA, Pediatric Association can say homosexuality is not a choice, but it's not natural and normal either. People with an ounce of intelligence can see that just by observing the over 7 billion people on the planet and nature as well. Anyone who attended school and did basic biology knows complex entities that are multi celled reproduce with a male or female, so David S. Fishback
Advocacy Chair, Metro DC PFLAG don't try to impress us with what the APA,AMA etc are saying, I and many others don't need a medical doctor or a psychiatrist to tell me that all human beings came from a male father and female mother that is why gays even go to great lengths buying their off spring in terms of sperm and eggs from anonymous donors. And because of that homosexuality is not natural or normal, it's actually a birth defect like blindness or deafness is. If blindness was a natural or normal state and not a birth defect, we wouldn't have eyes would we?? If deafness was a natural and normal state and not a birth defect, we wouldn't have ears would we?? Just like if homosexuality was normal and natural, they would be no need for male or female, not only in the human species, other animals, but also in the plant species as well. Again you are wasting your time trying to impress and convince us that the APA, AMA said this and that. I can come to my own conclusions, after all I have my own BRAIN, I went to school, and I did more than basic biology, and yes I have enough intelligence to know that there is a reason why the human species, other animals and plants have both male and female genders which mate or pollinate in terms of plants, to continue on their species.

Posted by: nakiberu | October 30, 2010 1:32 AM | Report abuse

I am going to assume (perhaps stupidly) that Ms. Schaerr is sincere in her comments.

Ms. Schaerr, how long, precisely, do you wish gay and lesbian kids to torture themselves?

I know that sexual orientation is not a choice because, having been born into and raised by a fundamentalist family, I spent pretty much every waking moment from the age of 12 to the age of 21 desperately attempting not to be gay.

I have already volunteered 9 years of my 47 year life attempting to do what you want. Could you clarify for me, please, how many more years you want me to bang my head against your metaphorical brick wall?

As I said, I will presume that you are kindly intended, but I hope you will understand if I am slightly suspicious because at least some people who share your views just appear to get a kick out of running people like me around in circles.

I wasted way too much of my youth, and way too much of my time attempting to conform myself to your view of what the ideal reality should be.

These days, I am sorry, but I am simply too busy. I have two cats who want to be fed, a memo to complete for a client who has a filing to make next week, and a concert pianist husband who is stressing over his upcoming performance.

I can either fix him breakfast, or attempt to make you happy, but I cannot do both.

Gee, guess who just lost that battle.

Later. Bye.

Posted by: chris1231 | October 30, 2010 5:52 AM | Report abuse

Ms. Schaerr, please state the exact date on which you decided you were a heterosexual. Until then, go away.

Posted by: Jeffrmarks | October 30, 2010 6:53 AM | Report abuse

For an interesting analysis of Ms. Schaerr's blog, see this link from Teachthefacts.org:

http://vigilance.teachthefacts.org/2010/10/martha-schaerr-claims-not-to-be-anti.html#comments

Posted by: vista1969 | October 31, 2010 12:13 PM | Report abuse

The selective quotation made above seriously distorts the meaning of the text.

Here is the material quoted above:

"Although much research has examined the possible genetic, hormonal, developmental, social, and cultural influences on sexual orientation, no findings have emerged that permit scientists to conclude that sexual orientation . . . is determined by any particular factor or factors. Many think that nature and nurture both play complex roles."

Here is the original:

There is no consensus among scientists about the exact reasons that an individual develops a heterosexual, bisexual, gay, or lesbian orientation. Although much research has examined the possible genetic, hormonal, developmental, social, and cultural influences on sexual orientation, no findings have emerged that permit scientists to conclude that sexual orientation is determined by any particular factor or factors. Many think that nature and nurture both play complex roles; most people experience little or no sense of choice about their sexual orientation.


See pg 2, http://www.apa.org/topics/sexuality/sorientation.pdf

Again, per this paragraph "...most people experience little or no sense of choice about their sexual orientation."

Posted by: DVD1 | October 31, 2010 3:50 PM | Report abuse

Should voters use one small part of a platform to decide who to vote for?

What voters really want to know is what the candidates are going to do about overcrowding, gangs, expensive ESOL services (caused by the sanctuary policies of Montgomery County government and supported by the current Board of Education members), dilapidated school buildings, and a host of other problems.

I haven't heard any of the incumbents offer solutions to any of those problems, other than to throw more taxpayer money at the schools.

Posted by: postisarag | November 1, 2010 12:30 PM | Report abuse

Surely you can't be that dumb. No, scientists cannot prove where homosexuality (or heterosexuality, for that matter) comes from. However, we see both homosexuality and heterosexuality throughout the animal kingdom, and we are, in fact, animals. The only logical conclusion to reach is that homosexuality is every bit as natural as heterosexuality. It may be less frequent, but that doesn't make it any less natural.

Posted by: Voodoo_Idol | November 1, 2010 4:21 PM | Report abuse

"I haven't heard any of the incumbents offer solutions to any of those problems, other than to throw more taxpayer money at the schools."

Dumbest comment I've ever read in regards to politics, hands down. Schools have been underfunded for decades. The only reasonable tack is to put education at the very top of our financial priority list.

Posted by: Voodoo_Idol | November 1, 2010 4:29 PM | Report abuse

"I haven't heard any of the incumbents offer solutions to any of those problems, other than to throw more taxpayer money at the schools."

Dumbest comment I've ever read in regards to politics, hands down. Schools have been underfunded for decades. The only reasonable tack is to put education at the very top of our financial priority list.

Posted by: Voodoo_Idol | November 1, 2010 4:33 PM | Report abuse

"Schools have been underfunded for decades. The only reasonable tack is to put education at the very top of our financial priority list.'

Montgomery County schools weren't underfunded until the mid-1990's, when the illegal alien invasion began to impact the county. Now that that the illegals' have taken root and their anchor babies have dropped, the elementary schools are severely overcrowded with no end in sight. Best solution is to start enforcing immigration law in Maryland to drive out the illegals and their anchor babies.

Posted by: postisarag | November 1, 2010 4:49 PM | Report abuse

"Now that that the illegals' have taken root and their anchor babies have dropped, the elementary schools are severely overcrowded with no end in sight. Best solution is to start enforcing immigration law in Maryland to drive out the illegals and their anchor babies."

[citation needed]

I'm calling Shenaningans.

Posted by: Voodoo_Idol | November 2, 2010 1:52 PM | Report abuse

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