Cure ‘em Young! – PFOX Promotes Ex-Gay Therapy in Public Schools

Cure ‘em young! That seems to be the message that Parents and Friends of Ex-Gays and Gays (PFOX) is trying to push in American schools. The Washington Post reports that, along with student report cards, high schools in Potomac last week distributed PFOX fliers that contained the message, “Every year, thousands of people with unwanted same-sex attractions make the personal decision to leave a gay identity… No ‘gay gene’ or gay center of the brain has been found. No medical test exists to determine if a person is homosexual. Sexual orientation is based on feelings and is a matter of self-affirmation and public declaration.” Click here for an example of the full text.

What’s worse is, the schools are apparently compelled to hand out this material by law. From the article:

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.

School officials said that while they aren’t always happy with everything that goes home with students, their hands are tied by the results of the litigation.

“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.

I understand that the district is in a difficult position because of the lawsuit, but the practice of conversion therapy for gay adolescents and adults alike has been shown to be so psychologically scarring that the American Psychological Association has formally discredited the practice. There is also little to no substantiated evidence that conversion therapy is actually even effective, a fact conveniently glossed over by PFOX. I also question whether the school board would be likely to allow fliers affirming gay identity, or would that be classed as promoting a “gay agenda?”

It was only last month at the Proposition 8 gay marriage trial, that we heard the testimony of 26-year-old Ryan Kendall who was forced into ex-gay therapy at the age of 13. The therapy failed, and he was pushed to the brink of suicide. Here is his testimony as reported by the Courthouse News Service:

Kendall said he was promptly sent to a Christian therapist for “reversal therapy.” He was 13 at the time… Kendall said his therapist told him that the goal of their sessions was to make him heterosexual. “I remember the therapist told me that homosexuals were bad people and that homosexuality was not consistent with Christian teachings,” he said.

But after attending the sessions, Kendall said he was “still gay.” His parents then sent him to the National Association for Research and Therapy of Homosexuality, an organization in Encino, Calif., run by Focus on the Family.

For more than a year and a half, he said, he talked to conversion-therapist Dr. Joseph Nicolosi. “I remember him saying that homosexuality is incompatible with what God wants for me,” Kendall said. “He told me that I had to fundamentally reject what I was.”

Meanwhile, Kendall’s home life changed dramatically, particularly his relationship with his mother. “Before, I had the kind of parents who would drive me to school and pack my lunches,” he said. “After this, they were always yelling at me and calling me names. It was a very emotionally abusive environment. I remember my mother saying she hated me, that I was repulsive. She said she wished she’d had an abortion or that I had been born with Down syndrome,” Kendall sobbed, prompting gasps throughout the courtroom. One woman, seated at the front of the gallery, began to weep.

Kendall said he left therapy at 16 because he realized that if he didn’t stop going, he “wasn’t going to survive.” He had himself emancipated from his parents. When San Francisco City Attorney Ron Flynn asked him if his life got better after leaving therapy, Kendall replied, “I was incredibly suicidal and depressed. I hated my entire life. So no, things did not get better.”

After five years of further self-destruction, Ryan was eventually able to recover, but this is conversion therapy in action. This is what it does. To casually brush this off as a freedom of speech issue, as the district seems to have done, misunderstands the danger that LGBT high school students face by letting this material be disseminated without challenge.

Furthermore, there’s the little matter of the district’s own non-discrimination policy (.pdf), which actually goes as far as to explicitly protect lesbian and gay students (emphasis mine):

The Board of Education is committed to ensuring that:

1. Public education is provided in an atmosphere where differences are understood and appreciated, and where all persons are treated fairly and with respect in an environment free of discrimination and threats of violence or abuse

2. Acts of hate/violence, including but not limited to verbal abuse, slurs, threats, physical violence or conduct, vandalism or destruction of property, directed against persons because of their race, religion, national origin, ethnic background, sexual orientation, or disability will not be tolerated

This flier clearly violates the district’s own edict of “respect” because it reinforces the widely discredited idea that sexuality is simply a choice, and that people can choose to become straight, to become “normal,” which, in turn, fosters inequality and allows for bullying and potential violence against LGBT kids. This flier may fall short of “hate speech,” but it certainly isn’t in line with the district’s promise of an environment free of discrimination.

I also think it speaks volumes that, at the bottom of the flier, there is a disclaimer saying that neither the school, nor the school board, nor the school district, have sponsored the material that they are handing out. Unfortunately, you can’t disclaimer away psychological trauma, depression, and suicidal thoughts – and this is exactly what these fliers could lead to if just one impressionable lesbian or gay teenager chooses to believe the half-truths that are being handed to them along with their report cards.

Care 2 Petition

Care2 Related Reading:


Joshua K.
Joshua K6 years ago

Most schools are forbidden from teaching scientifically based comprehensive sex education in the schools, but they can distribute THIS pile of crap? Maybe they should start distributing pamphlets to African-Americans saying they don't have to be Black anymore? If they pray to Jesus hard enough, Jesus will answer their prayers and make them white. (Actually-I'm sorry I gave these morons the idea) It makes about as much sense. These are immutable characteristics.

June K.
June K7 years ago

Elizabeth, I'm sorry, but I don't understand your comment. I follow the Ten Commandments and I also follow the missive to not judge others and to love my neighbors. I am not sure how these profane Jesus' name. I do try to be responsible for my action and not hurt people or spread hate. If God loves us and others regardless of our imperfections, I am not sure why so many people want to judge and hate others because of them.

Elizabeth Stevenson

Indeed Iolani A., "being a Christian means more than just the name. We all should remember that." Too much do we profane His name by our very actions--our conduct. We're only human yes and not perfect, but we're also called to be aware and RESPONSIBLE for ourselves. God is responsible for Himself when he does something so then how much more should we who have His name be responsible? So many of my brothers and sisters in faith I worry about on this....

And please, let us not forget that while the Lord did in fact make us in His image, not all feelings did He give to us but rather were later ACQUIRED once SIN came into the world as with our free choice, we CHOSE not to listen to God. Not listening to Him has its consequences whether immediately or later in life. Some of us may not see those consequences til it's too late and we're lost at His soon second coming.

Sin is sin, no matter the format; if it's impure and reflects nothing of God, we shouldn't be doing it--and boy, is that hard not to do those things without keeping our eyes on Him. This is by far our greatest struggle. >,O Be encouraged my dear and be blessed. Just like a parent, the Lord doesn't necessarily always approve of our actions (the sin), but praise Him as He loves us all despite; He still want's us to repent. As it is written: "For I take no pleasure in the death of anyone, declares the Sovereign Lord. Repent and live!" Ezekiel 18:32

Iolani A.
Iolani Tedesco7 years ago

I have been watching this site with interest. I am wondering if sometimes we should "clean under our own beds" so to speak before we start telling someone else how to clean under theirs.
The scriptures, of any faith, can ,and will, be interpreted anyway that a minister,priest,bishop,preacher,rabbi, shaman,witchdoctor or the many other religious leaders choose . Whatever promotes their point of view and fills their churches and brings money in will do.
I feel it is wrong to say the Creator is not a loving and understanding God. To say he made us in His image Male and Female Created He Them and say in the same breath that he will damn us to hell for the very feelings he gave us doesn't make sense nor does it help anyone. All it does is cause more anger and hate. In what I have read on most posts unfortionately the "Christians" are loosing. Being a Christian means more than just the name. We all should remember that.

Annmari Lundin
Annmari L7 years ago

Schools should have a neutral approach, but teach acceptance and that everyone are different but equal!

June K.
June K7 years ago

Oh, please Tommy! If we are going to lump all of a group together. Then you must answer for the "pro-life" demonstrator who punched a pregnant clinic worker in the stomach and caused in abortion. Or "pro-life" demonstrators who kill doctors. It seems to be a selective reading of the Bible to ignore the Ten Commandments. But you also seem to be selective in what you follow; choosing only parts that allow you to condemn or hate others.

June K.
June K7 years ago

"June if you read your Bible (if you have one) you should be reading that the God of Love also says there are consequences to sin."

What I understand of the Bible says that a person's sin is between them and God and that we are not the judges, but God is. Do you ever say the Lord's Prayer? You don't seem to do much forgiving of those who you see as trespassing against you and seem awful anxious to consign us all to hell. I just don't understand someone who seems so full of hate for humankind. Maybe you don't understand the carrot approach. I think a lot of right wingers lost us when they started preaching hate. Hate your cousin because she became a minister and the Bible condems her. Hate your friend because s/he is homosexual. I never understood why I was supposed to hate blacks or why voting for Obama would lead to the end of the world, though I thought we were headed that way when Bush decided one war wasn't enough and turned our surplus into the worst crisis since the Great Depression. I really think you would win more people over to God, by preaching love and forgiveness; but maybe that is not your goal. You seem to enjoy telling people they are going to hell to much.

Whitney K.
Whitney K7 years ago

Evil man of many names and deceits, whatever your magic book of mistranlated bronze age gibberish says, its irrelevant in 21st century secular America.

However, the new internet harrassment laws are not. You have been turned in twice now to the FBI. You've been kicked off of Care2 many times, and you can't remove what you have already wrote. You now have an open file. You can be prosecuted.

Free speech does not include a right to tresspass and harrass anonomously.

Past Member 7 years ago

“I believe in the God of love. I believe that the spreading of fear and hate is wrong. What two loving adults do does not affect me in the slightest. It does not threaten my marriage or threaten my relationship with God.”

June if you read your Bible (if you have one) you should be reading that the God of Love also says there are consequences to sin. What greater Love is there than what Jesus did when he went to the cross to die for our sins? Then for those of you who spit upon what he did and glorify a sin of homosexuality is preposterous to the nth degree. Then kill babies and call it choice? Jesus is not for those evil things. Jesus was Love but he also preached about Hell or the Lake of Fire. What I don’t understand is why do you people fight so hard to get into Hell? Do you really hate life that much?

Past Member 7 years ago

"“I have had the abortion debate with other folks and none of you who want to turn women into breeding machines will ever stop in your ranting to learn that most abortion clinics also support women who carry their babies to term. We don't hate children we just don't believe in forcing people to do things against their will. My friend chose to carry her baby to term, however if someone had forced her to I honestly believe she might have tried to commit suicide. So tell me oh righteous one, how many deaths are on your head?”

June you people sure like going off the deep end! Breeding machines? Where did that one come from? Are you trying to paint a picture? I have also been to an abortion clinic with other Christians that peacefully blocked the entrance to the abortion mill and sang songs. I was there shooting videos of the whole things. The out of the clear blue here comes this ugly dike looking woman with very short hair running from her car to the clinic screaming and screaming at the people!! She was violent and tried to hit and push the people blocking the entrance that were singing songs and praying!! I saw the evil of the left wing lezzy looking dyke woman with her maniac frenzy. I saw it with my own eyes so you cannot tell me different! The police arrived and many protestors went to jail much like the Vietnam protestors. I also went to a young Catholic ladies home with some of my other fiends’ afterword’s. This lady used to work in an ab