Gay rights fliers sent home with kids; Parents complain

John Aaron,

WASHINGTON – Some parents are complaining about gay rights fliers being sent home with their kids — and now they are asking the school to change its policies.

High school students in Montgomery County received messages this week from Parents, Families, & Friends of Lesbians and Gays, an advocacy group for homosexuals. The campaign is in response to fliers sent out in February from a group called Parents and Friends of Ex-Gays and Gays, who share opposing views, including the description of homosexuality as a “self-chosen identity,” according to their website.

Dana Tofig, spokesman for Montgomery County Public Schools, says the school system currently has very little say in what can be sent home with students. He says the county’s current policy allows any non-profit group to send fliers home with students at certain times each year, and is a response to rulings in 2004 and 2006 from the U.S. Court of Appeals.

“The result of those rulings is that it dramatically limited the discretion a school district has in deciding which announcements and information can be distributed through the schools.

The groups must include a disclaimer, saying the materials are not endorsed by the Md. Board of Education, the superintendent or the school.

Because of the backlash from parents, the school board’s policy committee is considering changes. One possibility would only allow non-profit groups to send messages out in elementary schools.

Middle and high school students would only be sent home with information from Montgomery County and Montgomery County Public Schools.

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