Friday, May 06, 2005


Forcing this stuff on kids has gone on far too long already

A parents group yesterday filed a federal lawsuit to stop the Montgomery County public school system from teaching a sex-education course that the group says advocates homosexuality and dismisses religious viewpoints. "It's not a curriculum to give kids knowledge. This curriculum is an indoctrination program," said Rockville lawyer John Garza, vice president of Citizens for a Responsible Curriculum (CRC). "It's setting forth a viewpoint on sex and homosexuality that goes beyond impartation of knowledge."

CRC filed suit in U.S. District Court in Greenbelt seeking a temporary injunction to block a pilot program in three middle schools and three high schools. The pilot program was to have begun tomorrow, but a schools spokesman yesterday said it will begin Monday. "We believe this curriculum takes a reasonable approach to the issue and that everyone's viewpoints were carefully considered when creating it," schools spokesman Brian Edwards said.

A hearing on the lawsuit is scheduled for tomorrow before Judge Alexander Williams Jr. The lawsuit says the curriculum violates students' free speech rights and the First Amendment protection against the establishment of religion. "Part of free speech is the right to remain silent," Mr. Garza said, adding that students who opt out of the course will be assumed to have religious objections or be "ex-gay" by their peers. "It's unconstitutional to force people to declare their religious beliefs or their sexual orientation," he said. "If you're a Catholic, if you're a fundamentalist Christian, if you're a Muslim or a Jew, you gotta go down the hall."

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VICTIM of crime released from jail

A teacher jailed for firing a pellet gun in a confrontation with “yobs” was freed yesterday by the Court of Appeal. Linda Walker, 48, who teaches at a special school for children with behavioural difficulties, was sent to prison for six months for a self-confessed moment of madness when she pursued youths she blamed for vandalism at her home. Her family and friends organised a 10,000-signature petition, set up a Free Linda website and her name was exploited sympathetically by political leaders during the election.

Three judges in the Court of Appeal set aside her jail sentence and granted a conditional discharge, but they refused her permission to challenge her convictions for affray and possessing a firearm with intent to cause fear of violence.

Mrs Walker, who started a hunger strike at Styal prison, Cheshire, during her five weeks in jail, walked out of the cells and into the arms of her partner John Cavanagh, 56, a college lecturer, and two of her three children, Donna, 20 and Craig, 18. Last night, Mrs Walker returned to her family home in Urmston, Greater Manchester. Earlier, friends had pinned welcome home banners and balloons to her front door. She said: “I just want to thank everybody who has helped our family through this ordeal. I’m just very happy to be home.”

The teacher was jailed at Manchester Crown Court on March 29 for pursuing a group of teenagers she blamed for a campaign of abuse directed at her home and family. She logged a series of complaints, from abusive telephone calls to vandalism. The final straw came when she noticed that a five-litre plastic container of washing liquid had been moved from the back door and emptied over her son’s car. During the subsequent midnight confrontation near her home, she fired up to six rounds from a gas-powered air pistol close to the feet of her antagonist. Later, she confessed to police that she had acted like a “mad woman possessed”, but claimed to have been at breaking point.

Giving his ruling, Lord Justice Rose said that Mrs Walker’s actions in firing the airgun at least twice, having earlier test-fired it in her home, should “on the face of it” have attracted a custodial sentence of considerable length. But he said that the courts were sometimes called upon to conduct a “delicate exercise of an often difficult discretion”. He said that Mrs Walker had no previous convictions and, as a teacher for 25 years, she had made an important contribution to the community. She and her family had suffered months of attacks on their home perpetrated by what Mrs Walker believed were youths intent on harassment.....

It is understood that Mrs Walker aims to continue the fight to clear her name. She will face a disciplinary hearing as head of food technology at New Park High School, Salford.

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A Christian refuge for homeless young people has been told it stands to lose crucial county council funding because grace is said before meals. The Barnabas House refuge - set up more than a decade ago by King's Lynn Baptist Church - has been told by Norfolk county council that prayers, Bibles placed in rooms and advertising for Christian events are all "inappropriate". It has also been told that it must relax the strict ban on any alcohol or drugs.

Trustees of Barnabas House, which runs three refuges in King's Lynn for people between 16 and 30, fear they may have no option but to dump the guiding Christian ethic at the homes because the charity relies on £150,000 of annual county council grant to keep going. "It is absurd and it discriminates against us," a trustee told The Lynn News. "They want us to run a secular project and it is not a secular project. There is no one we push into Christianity."

The organisation offers places to about 20 homeless people "to get themselves together and find some sort of direction". Everyone at Barnie's, as it is known, is expected to help with shopping, gardening and housework, supervised by 13 staff. Funding comes from the Government's Supporting People programme and is distributed by the council, which does not have the happiest record where religion is concerned. Last month, an uproar forced the education authority to delay guidelines that would have banished mention of the Holy Ghost from classrooms in case children found it "spooky". Suggesting that Communion bread and wine represented the body and blood of Christ was also due to go because it gave the impression that Christians were cannibals.

Henry Bellingham, who is seeking re-election as Tory MP for North West Norfolk, said the attack on Christianity was appalling: "The people who are considering these ridiculous plans should be made to think again. I do have some sympathy with the county council because it seems their hands are tied by the Government guidelines."

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