Frederick County officials under fire for 'sexist' comments

The well-known Head Start preschool program for disadvantaged children might be severely cut back in Frederick County after the county board voted to eliminate all local funding.

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(Photo: Associated Press)

But it’s not just the cuts that have left parents infuriated.

Some elected officials made “insensitive” remarks suggesting that women should stay home and take care of children.

“My wife, college educated, could go out and get a very good job,” said Kirby Delauter, Frederick County commissioner. “She gave that up for 18 years so she could stay home with our kids.”

Another Frederick County commissioner, Paul Smith, said similar comments.

“My wife stayed home at significant sacrifice during those early years because she knew she had to be with those kids at that critical age,” he said.

The county is in the midst of a nearly $12 million budget shortfall. The $2 million Head Start receives wound up on the cutting floor.

Mothers and teachers called the comments ignorant, ridiculous and simply old fashioned.

"I think it's very sexist to imply that women should have to stay home,” said Nanci Bustillo-Jacobo, a parent. “Women have a right to have a career as well.”

Delauter didn’t respond to requests for comment.

But over the phone, Smith said he wouldn’t back down from his comments.

"The mother's role is primarily in the home and my wife happens to agree with me, as do many people, and so do my kids,” Smith said.

Lorie Lojzim, a teacher at a school in Frederick County, said the commissioners’ comments were chauvinistic.

“We have stay-at-home dads in our Head Start program and they do a great job,” she said.

 

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