Warren Throckmorton, an antigay psychology professor at a small Pennsylvania conservative-Christian college, is a prolific writer on behalf of the ex-gay movement. (Google search.)
Unfortunately, Dr. Throckmorton sometimes bases his commentaries upon his own stereotypes about gay activists. He even gets their names wrong.
For example, on Sept. 1 he wrote an op-ed, quoted by an ex-gay Yahoo group, that begins with false assumptions about a D.C. gay activist group, the Gay and Lesbian Activists Alliance, and proceeds to issue further assumptions built from his original mistakes.
Gay activist groups must really want to avoid ex-gays. Now that’s a bold statement but witness the new love of the First Amendment by some gay rights organizations and their supporters. For instance, the oldest gay activist group in the nation, the Gay Activists Alliance of Washington (GLAA) came out in support of the National Education Association’s refusal to allow the Parents and Friends of Ex-Gay and Gays (PFOX) to exhibit at the NEA’s national conventions.
Dr. Throckmorton ignores GLAA’s solid record as a gay libertarian organization devoted to ensuring the First Amendment rights of private organizations — and to ensuring that taxpayers are not compelled to subsidize private organizations, particularly when they discriminate.
This support is no surprise but the rationale is remarkable given the antipathy of most gay groups and the NEA towards those who wish to exercise their First Amendment rights to exclude gays from various private or religious functions.
No, the rationale is not remarkable. Dr. Throckmorton seems to be ignorant of several gay rights organizations that seek not to legislate tolerance at the Boy Scouts, but rather to cut off the flow of taxpayer money to private groups, such as the Boy Scouts, that violate community standards of tolerance. In other words, the Boy Scouts can be as discriminatory as they wanna be, but they may not cheat the taxpayers. And if the Boy Scouts do collect taxpayer handouts, then they must either refrain from discrimination or pay considerable fines for misusing taxpayer funds.
… What I don’t understand is what the NEA gains by exercising its right to discriminate.
Dr. Throckmorton’s claim not to understand is difficult to believe. He would surely object to PFOX being required to allow pro-tolerance and anti-bullying groups to distribute literature and videos at PFOX meetings. (In fact, PFOX already does this. It even bans advocates of tolerance and nonviolence from its e-mail discussion group.)
What the NEA believes it gains is simple: A clear message to teachers that — contrary to the policies of PFOX — bullying and religious proselytization have no legitimate place in the public schools.
If PFOX does not wish to be discriminated against by other private organizations, then it must refrain from promoting discrimination. In Christianese, PFOX must love thy neighbor, and treat thy neighbor as PFOX wishes to be treated. But neither PFOX nor Dr. Throckmorton subscribe to that particular Christian ethic.
Thus, what kids hear about sexuality in public schools may be influenced by NEA materials. With the NEA blatantly excluding any information about the flexibility of sexual orientation and options other than gay affirming, how will impressionable and confused school kids get a fair chance to evaluate all their options?
Dr. Throckmorton’s argument is, again, disingenuous. PFOX propaganda, which is available from its Yahoo group, favors antigay discrimination, tolerates bullying in the schools, and strives to deny “confused school kids” opportunities to evaluate options other than discredited reparative therapies, even when their parents are gay-tolerant.
The PFOX message is that science has not proven the origins of sexual orientation to be genetic or inborn…
Not quite true. PFOX’s officers and Yahoo group members maintain that sexual orientation is entirely environmental — the result of bad fathers, homosexual “recruitment,” and demonic possession.
… that people change their sexuality frequently …
This is an untruth, and a trivialization of sexuality, that NEA rightly does not want preached at school children. Sexuality is somewhat fluid, but far from easy to change. Even ex-gay activists reject Dr. Throckmorton’s misstatement.
… and that identifying as gay or lesbian too early can lead to risky sexual experimentation.
“Too early”? Again, this line of argument is factually erroneous and disingenuous. Dr. Throckmorton does not want people to EVER identify as gay or lesbian. Furthermore, risky experimentation results from sexual confusion and from the ignorant hostility of adult role models, such as parents. People who come to terms with their sexual attractions, with guidance from apolitical and respectful parents or other adults, have far less need to experiment.
Do the leaders of the NEA think there are no ex-gay teachers, ex-gay school counselors, ex-gay parents of school students or adolescents with same-sex attraction who refuse a gay identity? This is another good question for us to pose to the NEA.
No, it’s a question to pose to PFOX and Dr. Throckmorton. Both refuse to come forward with public examples of the ex-gay teachers, counselors and parents that they claim exist.
It is the responsibility of PFOX and Dr. Throckmorton, not the NEA, to improve the tattered credibility of PFOX.
The First Amendment is a wonderful tool when applied consistently. Libertarian gays come close to achieving such consistency — defending PFOX’s freedom of speech while opposing its attempt to seize another organization’s soapbox. Dr. Throckmorton, unfortunately, remains selective in his application of the First Amendment: He seeks carte blanche for PFOX to speak anywhere, while he seeks to limit the NEA’s freedom to control its own message.