Romney: Dems should have rejected teaching gay issues to kids

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WASHINGTON (AP) — Republican Mitt Romney criticized his Democratic rivals Thursday for not rejecting the inclusion of gay-related issues in sex education for second-graders.

"Last night's debate was just the latest example of how out of touch the Democratic presidential candidates are with the American people," Romney said in a statement released by his campaign. "Not one candidate was uncomfortable with young children learning about same-sex marriage in the second grade."

"This is a subject that should be left to parents, not public school teachers," he said.

The Democrats were asked during a debate Wednesday night whether they would be comfortable with having a story about same-sex marriage read to their children as part of their school curriculum, as a second-grade teacher did last year in Lexington, Mass.

The top-tier Democratic candidates — Sens. Hillary Rodham Clinton of New York and Barack Obama of Illinois and John Edwards — generally said they favor teaching children tolerance for others, including gays and lesbians. They did not expressly embrace or reject including the same-sex marriage as part of a second-grade curriculum.

Edwards, who has a 9-year-old daughter and 7-year-old son, said he wants his children "to understand everything about the difficulties that gay and lesbian couples are faced with every day," but added that teaching such issues might be "a little tough."

Obama, who has daughters ages 6 and 9, said his wife has discussed same-sex marriage with their children and urged them "not to be afraid of people who are different."

Clinton said, "With respect to your individual children, that is such a matter of parental discretion ..."

In July, Romney criticized Democratic rival Barack Obama for supporting age-appropriate sex education for children as young as kindergartners.

While governor of Massachusetts, Romney funded abstinence education over family planning and abortion services. But in 2002, he also checked "yes" in a Planned Parenthood questionnaire that asked: "Do you support the teaching of responsible, age-appropriate, factually accurate health and sexuality education, including information about both abstinence and contraception, in public schools?"

Romney opposes same-sex marriage. He has been questioned about his record on gay rights. Romney challenged Democratic Sen. Edward Kennedy in 1994, and in a letter he promised a gay Republican group he would be a stronger advocate for gays than his rival.

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