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Judge Blocks Md. School Health Program

May 6, 2005

GREENBELT, Md. (AP) _ A federal judge on Thursday blocked a county school system from instituting a health curriculum that includes discussions of homosexuality.

U.S. District Judge Alexander Williams agreed with two groups that sued contending such discussions gave preference of religions that are tolerant of homosexuality over those that reject it.

Williams issued a temporary restraining order that prevents the Montgomery County school system in suburban Washington, D.C., from using the pilot health program in six schools. The program was set to begin Monday.

During the 10-day restraining order, another hearing will be held on whether to extend it, according to the judge’s decision.

Williams said the curriculum juxtaposes faiths such as Quakers that support full rights for gays and lesbians with groups such as Baptists, who are painted as ``intolerant and Biblically misguided.″

The lawsuit was filed Tuesday by Citizens for a Responsible Curriculum, a group comprising mostly parents, and the Virginia-based Parents and Friends of Ex-Gays and Gays.

School board president Patricia O’Neill said she was disappointed by the judge’s decision but that the district would pursue its case in court.

The curriculum was to be used in eighth and 10th grades to teach students about the dangers of unprotected sex and about human sexuality. The 10th-grade class included a video discussing abstinence and a segment where a woman puts a condom on a cucumber to demonstrate its use.

Parents can opt out of the curriculum by signing a form, school system attorney Judith Bresler said while arguing the case. Blocking the curriculum would hurt only the students who agreed to take part, she said.

Erik Stanley, an attorney for the groups that filed suit, said the curriculum excludes the viewpoints of former gays and those who believe that ``same-sex attraction can be overcome.″

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