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Jewish World Review March 8, 2005/ 27 Adar I 5765

Cal Thomas

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The Cucumber curriculum | Now that Justice Anthony Kennedy has ruled that our moral, ethical, even legal framework in the matter of capital punishment for murderers under 18 is to be determined by "evolving standards," let us move on to another application of that flawed philosophy: sex.

In the produce section of the grocery store, the lowly cucumber is about to achieve an elevated position in some Montgomery County, Md., public schools. Montgomery County has long been known as a "bedroom community" in the affluent Washington, D.C., suburbs — an appropriate moniker given what young students are about to be taught.

The school system announced last week that a new sex curriculum will be introduced this spring for three middle schools and three high schools. Students will be taught how to put a condom on a cucumber. They will also be taught that homosexual couples are the newest American "family."

But this isn't just about condoms, cucumbers and a new definition of family. In American schools, as in the rest of the country, one must be attuned to and indulge the desire of every citizen, as well as non-citizens.

That's why there's a "movement" in California to create gender-neutral toilets in public places so that transsexuals and even people with "androgynous identity who do not consider themselves completely male or female," in the words of a New York Times story, might feel comfortable.

But I digress. The Montgomery County schools trying out this program will also teach students to "develop" a sexual identity. According to the official line, gender identity is "a person's internal sense of knowing whether he or she is male or female." Gee, I discovered that as a child in the bathtub without the help of my public school.

There does not seem to be a groundswell, or even a tremor, from parents to begin such a curriculum. Instead, this appears to be an idea hatched by the dirty minds of people like Russ Henke, the county's health education coordinator.

Henke told The Washington Times, "We have some schools that stepped up to it and some schools that were recruited to do it," adding, "A school may not be real pleased because of the controversy involved, but we need the representation from that area." What "area" would that be? Planned Parenthood? The sex toy industry? The pilot program initially requires parental permission, but that won't last. Once "legitimacy" is established, pressure will be applied to make anyone who doesn't take the course feel like an outsider. Many will conform in order to avoid being "stigmatized."

Isn't that the same argument used to ban school prayer? Yes, but no one prays to a cucumber — not that there would be anything wrong with that in our tolerate-everything, "evolving standards" culture, which begs the question as to how anything could be a standard if it is evolving? Back to the cucumbers and the presumption by "sex educators" that virtually all young people want to jump into bed with someone as soon after puberty as possible. The facts do not sustain such a conclusion. In January, NBC News, in conjunction with People magazine, surveyed 13- to 16-year-olds on their attitudes about intimate physical contact. The survey found 27 percent were sexually active, but that leaves 73 percent who are not.

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Why, then, not focus our program on encouraging those who are abstinent to continue on that path, while trying to turn around the 27 percent who are sexually active? Instead, we seem bent on encouraging the behavior we claim not to want.

While the elites argue against abstinence, it works when it's tried. In a March 5 letter to the editor of The Washington Times, Health and Human Services Assistant Secretary Wade F. Horn wrote: "At least 10 published studies — four in scientific peer-reviewed journals — have shown that (abstinence) education helps youth delay the onset of sexual activity."

According to the National Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy, 91 percent of adults and 94 percent of teens believe teens should be given a strong message from society that they should not have sex until they are at least out of high school.

That high percentage apparently doesn't extend to administrators in the Montgomery County public schools. Initially, the school system proposed using a video "show and tell" to teach the students how to put a condom on a cucumber.

Should they decide to employ a teacher to demonstrate the process, here's my advice for the lowly employee who will have to buy the cucumbers at the supermarket. If the checkout person says anything, your response should be: "I'm just buying some evolving pickles."

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JWR contributor Cal Thomas is the author of, among others, The Wit and Wisdom of Cal Thomas Comment by clicking here.

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