PFOX complains in a Nov. 5 press release that exgay propaganda is being excluded from sex-ed school curricula in suburban Washington, D.C.
The press release suffers from a long list of shortcomings:
- PFOX operative Jackie Rice, ex-gay representative to a sex-ed committee for the Montgomery County, Md., schools, gratuitously cites her African-American racial identity as if to discredit the sex-ed committee’s claim to a different kind of diversity: The sexual kind.
- Rice says the committee "rejected any mention of ex-gays in the school curriculum and resources unless it was something negative about us." But she declines to quote the committee’s rejection, declines to say what the committee specifically found objectionable about PFOX brochures, and declines to define what qualifies as "negative." In fact, the committee seems to have been open to a balance of accurate information about exgays, including the low success rates and potential harm posed by exgay therapy. But we can’t be sure, because PFOX purposely withholds key information from the reader.
- PFOX says the committee subjects ex-gays to "hate and ridicule" but doesn’t say how the committee’s proposals amount to anything harsher than mere disagreement with PFOX’s ideology.
- PFOX claims Rice’s input on the committee was "blocked by gay activist groups and others who serve on this Committee and deny equality for ex-gays." But PFOX does not say how its input was blocked — or the reasons given by the committee. Instead, PFOX smears committeeman David Fishback because two of his sons are gay. Fishback is vaguely accused of open hostility toward ex-gays — but no specifics about this hostility are provided to allow readers to decide for themselves.
- PFOX director Regina Griggs issues a rather extreme accusation that a GLSEN pamphlet "instructs school administrators to ignore any other point of view concerning homosexuality – even from parents whose children are students at the school." But Grigg declines to show readers the actual wording of the pamphlet. What does the pamphlet really say?
- Griggs says that exgays are a "minority group" and concludes: "Ex-gays are part of our community and should not be discredited or excluded" — even though PFOX’s own publications claim to discredit efforts at tolerance.
In the name of diversity and inclusion, the PFOX press release concludes that the county school board should disregard the collective work of the committee and instead "accept PFOX’s separate list of ex-gay materials for inclusion in the school curriculum."
This public threat follows a Nov. 1 threat in a letter to the schools’ superintendent. The letter does, to its credit, list numerous alleged factual falsehoods in the proposed sex-ed curriculum. But it turns out they’re not false; they simply vary from PFOX stereotypes of homosexuals.
- In the letter, PFOX quotes one lesson plan saying "it is often societal homophobia that forces people to attempt to change." Instead of acknowledging its past support for discrimination and social disapproval, PFOX responds to the statement with a warning that the school system risks being sued by groups such as — you guessed it — PFOX.
- In response to brochures by Advocates for Youth and the gay-tolerant Family Pride Coalition, PFOX says it objects to explicit discussion of sexual behaviors, objects to the use of language such as “partner,” objects to "safe zone" stickers for gay youth who have been bullied, objects to the invitation of gay speakers to address students, and objects to the hiring of homosexuals. PFOX even objects to an effort to help define morality.
- In response to another brochure, "Lesbian, Gay and Bisexual Youth Q&A," PFOX makes the unfounded charge that "transgenderism is a gender identity disorder," insists that transgender students be subjected to counseling, protests unisex bathrooms, and objects to the observation that "evangelicals and fundamentalists are more likely to be less tolerant of homosexuals" even though Exodus and Focus on the Family (among others) boldly object to tolerance in their press releases and web sites. PFOX claims that the committee "rejected ex-gay materials because some of the materials cited religious references," but declines to quote the either rejection or the rejected references. PFOX says, "Advocating certain religions over others is also discriminatory. Nor should teachers be instructed to refer students to other religions, especially without parental permission." PFOX does not indicate how any religions are given preferential treatment; in fact, its own publications and online discussion group exclude religious and political expression that is politically liberal or tolerant of persons deemed to be non-(conservative)-Christian.
- PFOX complains that the committee "voted to insert into the school curriculum these terms with their definitions: homosexual, bisexual, lesbian, transgender, questioning, and intersexed. Yet the Committee refused to include the term ‘ex-gay’ with its definition." But there is no agreed-upon definition of "ex-gay." In the letter to the superintendent, PFOX proposes that this inaccurate definition be taught to school children:
- Responding to publications by the Triangle Foundation, PFOX protests this true statement about exgays: "Few say their homosexual attraction has changed. Most of the mental health and religious establishments oppose reparative therapy." PFOX claims "ex-gay advocacy materials exist that show Triangle Foundation’s opinion is uninformed and unscientific" but PFOX offers no pertinent, on-topic materials. Instead, it engages in a smear attack regarding the foundation director’s off-hours sexual activities and, based on its disapproval of S&M, PFOX insinuates that the director suffers from mental disorders. PFOX protests a foundation pamphlet documenting antigay discrimination, denies that antigay discrimination is a valid concern, and proposes a brochure alleging discrimination against exgays.
- PFOX protests brochures from the gay-tolerant parents group PFLAG, without saying specifically what is wrong with them. PFOX objects instead that PFOX’s anti-PFLAG brochures were not also included in the curriculum proposal.
- Regarding a chapter from a Q&A by Advocates for Youth, PFOX protests this true sentence, "People have tried without success to change their own and others’ sexual orientation." PFOX calls this "an outright lie," effectively denying the existence of the entire ex-ex-gay movement. Then PFOX distorts the meaning of the quotation, suggesting that it denies the existence of any ex-gays.
"Ex-Gay – a common term for someone who was once primarily aware of same sex attractions or who once identified as homosexual, lesbian or bisexual but in the present has developed opposite sex attraction and identifies as heterosexual."
It appears that more might have been done in Montgomery County to include conservative viewpoints without antagonizing gay and questioning students. But it also appears that PFOX sought to antagonize its committee colleagues and thwart comprehensive sex education from the start. PFOX opposes sex education that extends beyond the teaching of abstinence until heterosexual marriage, and it appears to be allowing its own hostility toward comprehensive teen education interfere with its efforts toward inclusion. Instead of telling the whole story, PFOX tells a great many half-truths.
Ex-Gay Watch welcomes people to come forward with complete and less-biased information about the Montgomery County, Md., sex-ed committee process.
Update: David Fishback responds to PFOX’s personal attack against him.