FOCUS ON THE FAMILY TOO LIBERAL

A new queer group made an appearance at last Saturday's "Love Won Out" seminar sponsored by the right-wing Christian group Focus on the Family. The seminar, held at Mountlake Terrace's Calvary Fellowship Church, taught attendees how to get the "homosexual agenda" out of public schools, "change public opinion," and turn gays to Jesus.

As seminar participants broke for lunch, the Chassidishe Faygeles pulled up to join several dozen protesters outside the church. Clad in rainbow-colored traditional Jewish garb and blasting klezmer music on a boom box, the Chassidishe Faygeles (Yiddish for "Hasidic little birds") provided a nice complement to the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence, a drag-queen nun contingent. The Faygeles said they "applaud efforts of Focus on the Family to bring the wisdom of Halacha [Jewish law] to our public schools," but argued for stricter enforcement of Leviticus, the portion of the bible that forbids homosexuality.

Their demands include:

· Separate school facilities for lepers

· Beards and beard inspection for male students and teachers

· Daily inspection for ritual impurity

· School libraries free of heretical books such as Green Eggs and Ham

· Removal of camel meat from the national school lunch program

· An end to all Shabbos violations such as Friday-night football games

The Faygeles promise this appearance is only the first of many to promote their agenda: "We fervently hope that all religious fundamentalists can work together to... introduce Biblical law into the K-12 curriculum," said group member Christy Robertson.--Samantha M. Shapiro


ADVERTISING THE OBVIOUS

You may have noticed the colorful and curious ads from Public Health Seattle & King County on bus sides and billboards all over the city. They're little reminders of all that's good for us: clean air, leafy greens, seat belts, sunscreen, high fiber, exercise, toothbrushes, and of course, the Seattle-King County Department of Public Health.

So, has there been some attack on this public agency? Has the idea of public health fallen so out of favor that it's forced to advertise itself? Nah, says spokesperson Mark Alstead. The point is simply to increase awareness about what the department has to offer, especially to the people who need services most.

That's all well and good, but it's odd that the health department would choose to spend public money (billboards normally cost around $1,500 per month, although a department spokesperson insists they got a deal) while simultaneously cutting back on direct services. Last year, the department opted to stop providing medical care at five public health centers in south King County. It also tried to close a dental clinic that serves homeless people downtown, causing such a ruckus that the Seattle City Council was forced to divert funds from other projects at the last minute to keep the clinic going.

Looking up at a billboard won't help much if you're uninsured and fighting off a nasty hack. But you might get help finding what you need by calling the health department at 296-4600, or checking the web at www.metrokc.gov/health. --Ben Jacklet


KEEP YOUR LEGS CROSSED

Mayor Schell is considering the Family Planning Advisory Board's recommendation that instead of accepting population growth as a given (and building more and more malls), local government should try to familiarize the good people of Seattle with the birth-control devices so popular everywhere else. King County, apparently our own little Ozarks, has a rate of unintended pregnancy that's 20 percent higher than the national average, a statistical blip that public health officials don't have much of an explanation for.

The state's current growth plan makes allowances for the projected 1.75 million new citizens expected to settle in Washington in the next 20 years. But Dave Gamrath of the Family Planning board would like to see that number lowered. Pointing to the Seattle-King County Department of Health's most recent study, which found that 40 percent of the state's pregnancies are unintended, he suggests that serious money be spent on sex education and pushing contraceptives. By Gamrath's calculations, that could cut 718,000 "unintended new people" out of the growth equation. Unintended new people, he adds, tend to be underweight, deprived of good prenatal care, and can result in increased domestic violence, and high insurance rates.--Samantha M. Shapiro

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