February 29, 2012 2:26 pm ET - by Carlos Maza
Earlier this month, reports surfaced that the “ex-gay” group Parents and Friends of Ex-Gays and Gays (PFOX) had been distributing flyers to students at high schools in Montgomery County, Maryland. In response to the news, Montgomery County school superintendent Joshua Starr called the flyers “reprehensible and deplorable,” adding that he found PFOX's message to be “really, really disgusting.”
On Tuesday, Peter Sprigg, a PFOX board member and Senior Fellow at the anti-gay Family Research Council (FRC), came to the flyers’ defense. In a column for The Washington Times, Sprigg criticized Starr for condemning the flyers, asserting that PFOX isn’t actually anti-gay:
The controversy arose not because of its relatively innocuous content, but because of its source: an organization called Parents and Friends of Ex-Gays and Gays, or PFOX. The flier states, “Every year, thousands of people with unwanted same-sex attractions make the personal decision to leave a gay identity,” and asserts that such people should be able to “seek help and information on overcoming their feelings.”
Perhaps the flier triggered anger because it calls into question a widespread myth - that people are “born gay.” Yet even the American Psychological Association (APA) has admitted, “[N]o findings have emerged that permit scientists to conclude that sexual orientation is determined by any particular factor or factors.”
The most defamatory accusation about the PFOX flier is that it is “anti-gay.” This is simply false. The flier declares, “PFOX supports tolerance.” That means tolerance for all - homosexuals and ex-homosexuals. Apparently for some people, “tolerance” is a one-way street.
PFOX is permitted to participate in the backpack flier program because courts have ruled that if this service is made available to any nonprofits, it must be made available to all, without discrimination as to content or viewpoint. Now, the county Board of Education has voted to look at abolishing the backpack-flier program altogether - potentially punishing every nonprofit in the county simply to censor one message of freedom and self-determination for all.
Now that is “reprehensible,” “deplorable” and “disgusting.”
“Ex-gay” therapy has been widely rejected by mainstream medical organizations – including the APA – for being both ineffective and potentially harmful. Even current and former members of the “ex-gay” movement have admitted that altering one’s sexual orientation is extremely difficult, if not impossible. Unfortunately, none of that has deterred Sprigg from speaking at “ex-gay” conferences or boldly declaring that “zero people are ‘born gay.’”
Sprigg’s claim that PFOX isn’t anti-gay is doubtful. Sprigg himself is a frequent promoter of anti-gay smears, including the myth that gay men molest children at higher rates than straight men. PFOX’s president, Greg Quinlan, recently accused gays and lesbians of “sexual cannibalism.” In 2010, he proudly declared that he wasn’t a “flaming faggot” before becoming “ex-gay.”
Thanks to The Washington Times, though, both Sprigg and Quinlan are able to get away with claiming to be doing nothing more than promoting “relatively innocuous content” about providing “help and information” to gay teens.
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