Richard Cohen, M.A.
July 6, 2005
Statement to the Montgomery County Board of Education
(Statement on behalf of a broader campaign with the religious-right Liberty Counsel, Warren Throckmorton, and a local group of religious conservatives opposed to comprehensive, abstinence-inclusive sex education in suburban Washington, D.C., public schools.)
My name is Richard Cohen. I am the Board President of Parents and Friends of Ex-Gays and Gays, otherwise known as PFOX. The first thing I would like to do is apologize for any inconvenience and expense we have caused the Board of Education. We simply want our voice and views incorporated into the new sex education curriculum. We at PFOX believe wholeheartedly in Tolerance, Diversity and Equality for all people.
I want to thank you for including an awareness of homosexuality in the new sex education curriculum. We believe it is our moral imperative to protect and defend the right of all students, in particular those who experience same-sex attraction and those who may be questioning their sexuality. These students must be able to attend school in a safe environment. I know how important that is because I was the brunt of cruel remarks while attending high school.
Faggot, sissy, homo—I heard it all. No child should have to endure such things while trying to obtain an education. All students need to be taught how to respect one another.
I lived as a gay man for many years but always dreamed of a wife and children. Today I have been married for 23 years and we have three incredible children. And, for the past 15 years, as a professional psychotherapist, I have assisted hundreds of people in transitioning from a homosexual to a heterosexual orientation. Therefore, I know personally and professionally that CHANGE IS POSSIBLE.
Regarding homosexuality, we at PFOX are Pro-Choice. We believe in everyone’s right of self-determination. The students themselves should get to choose whether they wish to live a gay life or to explore the possibility of changing from gay to straight. All we ask from the Board of Education is to NOT LIMIT THE CHOICES of our children in the new sex education curriculum. Please give the students ALL information about diverse views of homosexuality, and let them decide if they want to be gay or ex-gay. Both are OK. Please let the students decide for themselves. Thank you very much.