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02/06/2010

There are gay students in MD who now hate themselves. Stay 'moral', PFOX!

by Jeremy Hooper

-The world is flat.

-People think with their hearts and pump blood with their brains.

-We breathe in carbon dioxide and breathe out oxygen.

-Gay people can "change" into heterosexuals.

200803040943-3All of the above are examples of ideas that credible science decidedly shuns. Yet only one of the meritless notions is being disseminated as fact to students in Montgomery County, Maryland.

This from The Washington Post:

Some Montgomery County high schools passed out fliers this week from an organization that contends gays can become heterosexual through therapy, and the schools say they cannot prevent the use of their distribution system by such groups.

The fliers, from the group Parents and Friends of Ex-Gays and Gays, were distributed Thursday alongside report cards by teachers at Winston Churchill High School in Potomac. The group says it delivered them to about half the county's high schools this week and plans to do the same at the remaining high schools at the end of the school year.

The schools are required to distribute literature that isn't deemed hate speech from any registered nonprofit organization four times a year, the result of a 2006 lawsuit, said Dana Tofig, a spokesman for the Montgomery County Public Schools.

...
"These fliers are probably counter to what is available in our health curriculum, but that curriculum focuses on respect, and we respect freedom of speech," said Patricia O'Neill (Bethesda-Chevy Chase), president of the Montgomery County Board of Education.
Potomac students get fliers saying therapy turns gays straight [WaPo]

Indoctrination. Plain and simple. Of course PFOX would deny that term, as English is another class where the "pro-family," "pro-ex-gay," "protect families," "traditional values" crew hopes to replace textbooks with (their own cherry-picked version of) the Bible.

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Your thoughts

One would think that it should be pretty easy to make a legal case that schools should be able to protect themselves (and their students) from promoting (or the promotion of) unproven and potentially extremely dangerous, pseudo-sciencey-sounding horse-hockey. The possibility of liability for the schools, and actual harm to the students should be compelling enough.

One has to wonder why parents of students that have been harmed by the malicious lies spread by the anti-gays, haven't sought to hold those anti-gay groups liable for damages. In many cases, it might be difficult to meet the burden of proof, but there are certainly enough cases that are easy to prove. Unfortunately, the school districts are the deep pockets that end up being sued, when the real culprits skate because they are more judgment proof. One would think, though, that the ACLU would be more than willing to take on that less lucrative class-action suit.

Could getting the religious industrial complex out of the anti-gay business, be just as simple as making it too expensive for them to spread their hate? Maybe it's worth some exploration.

Posted by: Dick Mills | Feb 6, 2010 5:18:51 PM

I don't understand, if a non-profit wanted to pass out fliers regarding skin bleaching for those who want to "chose to be white", would that be acceptable?

Or how about a flier that said "you can choose to be Jewish or not."

Both are obviously doable - black people can bleach their skin, and Jews can convert. But the sheer horrid prejudice that the pamphlet that would offer such "choices" emits is not worth the opportunity for "choice". Because what the pamphlet is saying, is that the "choice" they are promoting is the more acceptable one. It's "better" to be white, and it's "better" to not be jewish. The case is the same here - they are saying it's "better" to be straight.

And, the sad bit? Both bleaching of the skin and converting to another religion are scientifically proven - people can bleach their sin, and people can change religions. As insulting as fliers for these "choices" are, Jesus, at least it'd be true in terms of actual ability to do so, despite the same degree of insult.

Gays can not change, and nor can straights! I am straight and I know no amount of "therapy" could make me attracted to women in the way I am to men.

These people are ridiculous.

Posted by: Stef | Feb 6, 2010 5:56:36 PM

I just e-mailed their media consultant the following e-mail (with a hyperlink to an academic ref. denoting the APA's position):

"Good afternoon, Regina. It has come to my attention that you are distributing–and advocating for–fliers to area High Schools throughout Maryland that endorse demonstrable psychological harm, according to the American Psychological Association (APA)! Why was this position not disclosed by your somewhat polemical flier? Moreover, it seems–though is not discussed publicly–that is only the Christian tradition that seems to have any problem with what the APA has pronounced to be a natural and innate sexual orientation. nearly every ancient culture–from the Greeks, Romans, Celts, and Hindus, to the Nartive Americans and Chuckchi shamans–viewed homosexuals as a gift from the gods; they were highly revered in every non-Christian and pre-Christian culture on Earth, and esteemed as natural-born Shamans who maintained their respective authority as tribal spiritual leaders. To ignore this historical and ethnographic fact is simply naive, and hostile towards these powerful religious groups. Sadly, these groups are not generally in a position to socially compete with Christian dogma as a result that many even secular Americans have been convinced (through their own cultural naivete) that Christians and Christianity always equates to something beneficial or positive. But they forget that Hitler was a devout Christian, and most Christian and Evangelical religious groups are actively taking a page from his writings in attempting to have their personal religious views imposed upon the whole of society through an act of the political system, despite the fact that the Constitution clearly prohibits what one may vote on in an effort to abstain from a tyrannical majoritarian regime–which is what happened in California and Maine. It breaks my heart that so many Christians thoughtlessly want an American version of the Taliban.

"Were you also aware of the demonstrable historical fact that, despite Christians' declarations, and those of their Republican coevals, that 'Traditional Marriage' has never been 'one man and one woman for thousands and thousands of years'? According to nearly every culture on Earth, two men were allowed to get a legal marriages, such as in the cases of the Native Americans and Chuckchi shamans (they were greatly sought after as spouses by some of the other men), and in Rome Emperors (and other citizens) freely married males to the jubilation of their fellow citizens, such as in the case of Nero (who married a man named Spora) and Elagabalus (who married an athlete named Hierocles). This practice was stopped only by the barbaric Christian Emperor, Theodosus, who mandated that anyone who engaged or officiated over such a personal/ private union should be executed. These were, and are, real marriages despite those that I have run into in recent months who have been denying this evidence when they balk, 'Those don't count as real marriages!' This is obvious Christian supremacy, and cannot be tolerated!"

Immediately afterward they e-mail in response declaring the=at they are actually "pro-Gay", and that the Gays and ex-Gay movements are actually one and the same. WTF?!

Posted by: Wade MacMorrighan | Feb 6, 2010 6:31:47 PM

"The schools are required to distribute literature that isn't deemed hate speech from any registered nonprofit organization four times a year, the result of a 2006 lawsuit, said Dana Tofig, a spokesman for the Montgomery County Public Schools."

Now that sounds like an interesting case, wonder what it was about?

Posted by: Bob Miller | Feb 6, 2010 8:13:57 PM

Not to be flip, but can't pro-gay pro-science nonprofits distribute a counter-flier?

Posted by: echoecho | Feb 6, 2010 9:29:44 PM

They're required to distribute that literature eh? So if a non-profit pro-gay group were to distribute fliers that promoted tolerance and acceptance of homosexuality, they'd be required to distribute that too!

Posted by: Donna | Feb 6, 2010 10:10:45 PM

And if a non-profit, ex-ex-gay group (truthwinsout.org, for instance) were to distribute fliers that promoted tolerance for those choosing to leave the "ex-gay" scams, they'd be required to distribute that, too! A little explanation of how much the "ex-gay" quacks charge for there exploitive services would be helpful, too, for parents who don't want their children indoctrinated and recruited into the radical anti-gay lifestyle.

Posted by: Michael | Feb 7, 2010 9:34:48 AM

I believe it came out of a case for the Day of Silence. The Christians had a fit in Montgomery County and sued. I think this was the result of some kind of compromise. I live in DC and barely remember. However, most kids in this area are extremely sophisticated when it comes to sexuality. These are not the children of rednecks. Montgomery County has some of the most highly educated people in the country whose children are extremely self aware and this kind of action is laughed at by the majority of the kids. Unfortunately, it only takes one instance of one child believing their BS to cause a tragedy.

Posted by: Mykelb | Feb 7, 2010 2:25:44 PM

To Protest PFOX actions, go to: http://gayrights.change.org/actions/view/dont_let_ex-gay_propaganda_in_public_schools SIGN THE PETITION TO THE SCHOOL SYSTEM

Posted by: Mykelb | Feb 7, 2010 2:29:09 PM

OMGs! According to an e-mail I just got from PFOX, "Former homosexuals are the last invisible minority group in America. The ex-gay movement is a civil rights movement to ensure the safety and inclusion of former homosexuals in all realms of society, and supports the ex-gay community’s equal access to all public venues. Ex-gays and their supporters should not have to be closeted for fear of other’s negative reactions or disapproval. They do not think something is wrong with them because they decided to fulfill their heterosexual potential. Nor do they believe others should condemn them for the personal decision they have made for their lives. Full diversity must include the ex-gay community."

So, of course I responded with the following (even though they refused, time and again, to admit that religion is chiefly behind the so-called "ex-Gay" movement!):

Fact: studies have proven, again and again, that one cannot willingly change, or in any way alter their natural and innate sexual orientation; and that to attempt to do so would be psychologically damaging, and lead to depression, and perhaps (as has often been the case) suicide. Moreover, studies and investigations of so-called "ex-gays" have found, conclusively, that they are not actually heterosexual at all, but are simply repressing their innate and perfectly natural sexual orientation through personal celibacy (which, of course, Christo-Fascists' likes to tell people is bad, despite the countless world religions that have elevated Gay people to the status of Shamans and other powerful spiritual leaders), and those that declare they are no longer Gay know full well that they still desire relationships with other men, but go on lying to themselves, and to the public, and that creates animosity towards Gay people by our peers who believe that if we *can* "change", then we *should*! This, of course, leads to anti-gay violence, and even majoritarian rule on a tyrannical scale like what we've seen in California and Maine. I have even seen investigative reports where one has gone undercover to examine the claims made by so-called ex-Gays, and in the group about which I was reading, it was discovered that they were deceiving the men in attendance. Their claim was, "People have changed, and so can you, if you want to!" But, the man they paraded around the audience, it was found after the meeting, told the freelance journalist that he was just "pretending" to be heterosexual and that he was just on his way to a Gay bar!

Even though you would obviously not endorse it, it is organizations such as yours that mislead parents into believing that homosexuality is a choice, and that if their kids are gay, than they can change--even to the point of forcing them into asylums (a practice that still goes on!) in order to undergo the most barbaric reperative therapy. More than a few years ago I was reading of one such facility that still practices this, and how some teenagers manages to escape being institutionalized and found a safe house where they could live with other Gay teens until they were 18. However, their emotional scars will haunt them for their entire lives.

Don't you think that your organization and actions have consequences beyond what you might immediately see?

Posted by: Wade MacMorrighan | Feb 7, 2010 2:31:06 PM

Well, if Montgomery had no choice but to distribute the fliers than it would have no choice but to distribute PFLAG or GLSEN fliers. Let the printing presses roll!


Posted by: John | Feb 7, 2010 3:30:08 PM

PFOES - Parents And Friends Of Ex-Straights and Straights. Why not? They can't say no after saying yes to PFOX. It's easy to be gay. Just try it.

Posted by: Tommy | Feb 7, 2010 7:38:00 PM

I'm a parent in Montgomery County, and I confess that I'm still in the process of learning more about what happened here. (Frankly, we've been more concerned with entertaining our 7 and 8 year olds during the three days' forced blockade caused by 28 inches of snow at the house.) There are a few things I think I can clarify, though.

What's going on is that the school board has a policy that allows virtually ANY community nonprofit to have its materials included in packets that get sent home with students. The school board does not endorse these messages. (In fact, this is a very progressive school district that fought a PFOX lawsuit against its sex-ed curriculum and lessons on respect for people of different sexual orientations. And full disclosure: I represented PFLAG and a great parents' group known as Teach the Facts in that litigation.)

The prior lawsuit that made the board so gunshy is Child Evangelism Fellowship v. Montgomery County Public Schools. MCPS allowed community organizations like Boys and Girls Clubs, soccer leagues, and the Boy Scouts to distribute flyers for students to take home advertising meetings and recruiting members, but it refused to accept the flyers of a Christian evangelical group for elementary school aged students on the grounds that it would entangle the schools in religious matters in violation of the Establishment Clause. The case went up to the Fourth Circuit, which ruled against the school board, finding that the school board had engaged in illegal viewpoint discrimination.

I haven't read that case in a long time and don't pretend to know whether it really does tie the school board's hands with respect to PFOX's flyer. (The issue was different enough that I tend to doubt it.) The school board's response to the prior suit has been to adopt a hands-off policy and let virtually anybody submit anything, whether or not such a mechanical approach is legally required. (Though I'd love to see whether they would REALLY let messages like the hypothetical ones suggested by Stef through.) So a flyer like PFOX's is accepted, but counter-speech will be accepted as well. And in the past, MCPS students and teachers have used PFOX's flyer drops as a teachable moment -- putting out trash cans for people to throw them away, and the like.

I'm going to try to find out more. In the meantime, I would suggest that people go to the website of that parent group, Teach the Facts (www.teachthefacts.org) for more information. They're covering this on their "Vigilance Blog."

Incidentally, the real scandal in Montgomery County to this humble observer is how Peter "Recriminalize and Deport 'Em" Sprigg manages to retain a seat on the school board's Citizens Advisory Committee for Family Life and Human Development -- the one that advises on the sex-ed and respect-for-orientation curricula I mentioned before.

Posted by: Jon | Feb 8, 2010 1:46:37 PM

An all out effort by the straights in Mr. Sprigg's community needs to be undertaken to get him off the school board. How does anyone like him get on a school board? People aren't aware of the candidates views and just vote without a thought. Everyone in Montgomery County needs to be aware of this bigots and his wife's anti-gay stances and that their views are in direct conflict with the AMA, APA and ASA and that their interference in school matters won't be tolerated any longer.

Posted by: Mykelb | Feb 10, 2010 11:22:19 PM

Maybe the victory fund can get behind someone in Montgomery to keep this bigot off the board.

Posted by: Mykelb | Feb 10, 2010 11:23:26 PM

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