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Montgomery sex-ed foes head to court

The Baltimore Sun

Opponents of a new sex-education policy in Montgomery County that allows for greater discussion of sexual orientation have gone to court in an effort to block the curriculum.

The administrative appeal, filed July 26 in Montgomery County Circuit Court, seeks to reverse a decision made by the Maryland State Board of Education in June when it declined to overturn the curriculum.

The new education lessons include information on homosexuality and gender identity. Under earlier policies, teachers could only discuss sexual orientation in response to student questions.

Opponents such as the Citizens for a Responsible Curriculum say the lessons promote homosexuality. They won an earlier court battle over the issue in 2005, when a federal judge overturned a different version of Montgomery's sex-ed curriculum.

The county then drafted a tightly scripted program that allows for the discussion of sexual orientation. It was approved by the local school board and then by the state board.

Citizens for a Responsible Curriculum is receiving legal support from the Thomas More Law Center, a Christian organization based in Ann Arbor, Mich. They hope the courts will halt the implementation of the curriculum before classes resume Aug. 27.

Associated Press


: Statewide

Hopkins again tops list in receiving research funds

As it has for nearly 30 years, the Johns Hopkins University was in 2005 the leading recipient of federal research funds to universities, the National Science Foundation reported this week.

The private Baltimore university received $1.23 billion in fiscal year 2005, the most recent year analyzed, officials said.

Hopkins' dominance in government research money - it raked in about twice as much as the next-ranked university - is due in large part to its Applied Physics Laboratory in Laurel, which receives most of its nearly $680 million annual budget from the U.S. Department of Defense.

This year's National Science Foundation funding report for the first time analyzed federal research funds committed to historically black universities.

With $12.8 million, Morgan State University was ranked 10th among historically black colleges in 2005. Hampton University in Virginia topped the category with about $44 million in federal science and engineering spending.

Gadi Dechter


Governor and family off on a weeklong vacation

Gov. Martin O'Malley will be on vacation next week on a family trip to North Carolina, his spokesman said yesterday.

Rick Abbruzzese, the governor's spokesman, said O'Malley leaves today and returns next weekend.

Other officials also won't be around the State House next week. House Speaker Michael E. Busch is traveling to Boston for the National Conference of State Legislatures. Comptroller Peter Franchot is going on vacation next week in Ireland.

Associated Press

Prince George's

: Upper Marlboro

6-year-old girl injured in fall from Six Flags ride

A 6-year-old girl was seriously injured after falling from a ride at the Six Flags America amusement park in Upper Marlboro yesterday afternoon, a spokesman for the Prince George's County Fire/ EMS Department said.

The girl appeared to have fallen about 10 to 12 feet after standing up on a ride known as The Octopus, fire department spokesman Mark Brady said.

The girl was flown to a Washington hospital with injuries to her head, leg and hip that did not appear to be life-threatening, Brady said.

In accordance with safety regulations, the ride will be shut down until it can be inspected, which will most likely happen today, Brady said.

Julie Scharper

Washington Co.

: Hagerstown

Legislation seeks to keep carrier at the airport

Maryland's two U.S. senators introduced legislation Thursday that would force the only commercial air carrier at Hagerstown Regional Airport to maintain service there through the end of the year or until a replacement is found.

Air Midwest, a subsidiary of Mesa Air Group Inc. of Phoenix, announced in June that it would end its Hagerstown service Sept. 30 when a $650,000 annual federal subsidy expires.

The subsidy is to provide "essential air service" under a federal program for airports at least 70 miles from the nearest air transportation system hub by the most commonly used driving route. The program is set to expire Sept. 30.

Democratic Sens. Benjamin L. Cardin and Barbara A. Mikulski said they attached their proposal to an earlier bill that would extend the Essential Air Service program for five years. The extension also would affect airports in Brookings, S.D., and Lancaster, Pa.

Associated Press

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