Truth wins in Maryland

From our neighbors over in Montgomery County, a good community response to an ignorant diatribe similar to the more florid examples in our Hall of Shame. While everyone has the right to express their opinion, some utterances border on libelous, and certainly are beyond the bounds of civil discourse and the standards of a community newspaper. Nothing screams “bitter, marginalized loser” more than trying to link being gay with pedophilia.

So, the effort led by national AGI groups PFOX and Family Research Council to block the implementation of an improved sexuality education curriculum in Montgomery County schools was handed its final defeat in court. Now the focus of these groups has turned to accusing the School Board and MCPS of viewpoint discrimination. A threat letter sent by the Alliance Defense Fund alleges that literature distributed in the schools by PFOX has been “treated in a discriminatory manner” because some teachers have been vocal about its misrepresentations of fact.

As if on cue, here is what the director of PFOX, Regina Griggs, told an audience yesterday in an interview about Surgeon General nominee James Holsinger:

“The official position of all medical and mental health organizations and the American Psychiatric Association is that there is no biological or genetic cause or replicated study for homosexuality. So, why as a doctor should he not be allowed to interpret and support the fact that change is possible? That’s what medical science says.”

This does not represent a difference of opinion. This is simply a lie.

Here is the actual APA position:

The American Psychiatric Association opposes any psychiatric treatment, such as “reparative” or “conversion” therapy, which is based upon the assumption that homosexuality per se is a mental disorder, or based upon a prior assumption that the patient should change his/ her homosexual orientation.

Furthermore, the APA and other medical and mental health organizations take no position on the causes of variability in sexual orientation. The APA position is in fact the one that Regina Griggs, et al, tried so very hard to prevent from being referenced in the MCPS curriculum.

Trash belongs in the trash can. No one is obligated to treat the material distributed by PFOX with reverence, or to refrain from observing that it is medically and factually inaccurate. PFOX couldn’t force the schools to include their misrepresentations of fact in the curriculum, and they won’t be able to silence educators who point out their misrepresentations of fact, either.

Here is a suggestion for PFOX, and for any other group that feels that their civil rights are being trampled because their opinions are not being treated as the equivalent of medical consensus. Support some students who want to establish an extracurricular club that advocates your viewpoint. All viewpoints must be treated equally in this context, no matter how unpopular or implausible they may be. You will thus avoid the problem of appearing to blur the distinction between opinion and fact, and save yourselves a great deal of trouble.

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35 Responses to Truth wins in Maryland

  1. Jonathan says:

    Creepy Homophobic Reactionary Idolaters Spreading Terror (CHRIST) club

  2. David says:

    That’s a terrible way to take the Lord’s name in vain.

    Jim Kennedy has a great post up about the Georgetown U policy toward evangelical Protestants on campus. Here in part is the covenant they are now required to sign:

    While zeal for spreading the good news of the Gospel is a most worthy Christian virtue, there is increasing agreement among Christians today that proselytism, defined as any effort to influence people in ways that depersonalizes or deprives them of their inherent value as persons or the use of any coercive techniques or manipulative appeals which bypass a person’s critical faculties or play on psychological weakness, is unworthy of Christian life. Physical coercion, moral constraint, or psychological pressure and inducements for conversion which exploit other people’s needs, weaknesses, and lack of education are not to be practiced by representatives of affiliated ministries.

    He discusses this in the context of people who complain that their religious freedom is being violated when they are prevented from trying to “repair” GLBT people. Evidently many people do not like being told that they should change who they are and how they live. According to Jim, “they like to say that such people are ‘anti-Christian,’ but really they’re just ‘anti-rude.'”

  3. Jack says:

    That is an extremely narrow definition of “proselytize,” which Webster’s more broadly defines as “to induce someone to convert to one’s faith.”

    To keep things even, I recommend not lambasting those who claim to have changed from homosexual to heterosexual through the Grace of Christ.

  4. Jonathan says:

    Jack,

    Have we lambasted “ex-gays”? Would you venture to describe our criticisms – as you understand them – of the “ex-gay” movement?

  5. Jack says:

    I don’t know about YOU, but David has repeatedly used what he calls “scare quotes” whenever he uses the term “ex-gay,” and has prefaced it with the derogatory adjective “so called.” (Just do a search on your own site.) I would think that ex-gays would have the same problen with these “scare quotes” as you and David do when you are referred to as a “so-called ‘family’.”

    Although not here, I have seen ex-gays called liars and worse.

  6. David says:

    Jack,

    “Family” is not a made-up word, while “ex-gay” is.

    At issue here is not whether gay people can live as if they are straight. This is nothing new, people have always done it. I may not think it’s a healthy choice, but I respect the right to self-determination of other adults.

    What is new and dishonest is the effort on the part of groups like PFOX to present this choice as if it is a discrete sexual orientation. Think about it: If the claims of such organizations were true, then the orientation of their spokesmen would be straight.

    In fact, I have spoken with many people who have been through these conversion programs, both those who have ultimately rejected them as fraudulent and those who are still trying to overcome their natural orientation, and they all say the same thing. Their orientation has not changed. They are merely modifying their behavior, with more or less degree of difficulty. This comports with the views that you yourself have expressed here.

    For generations, left-handed children learned to use their non-dominant hand instead of what was natural for them, because they would be punished if they did not. This did not make them right-handed.

    Sexual orientation is the same sort of intrinsic trait, and of course people can modify their own sexual behavior in ways that are not natural for them. There’s no argument there. Let’s be respectful of people’s choices, but let’s not pretend that those choices are something they are not, ok?

  7. Jack says:

    All words were made up at some time. “Homosexual” is a made-up word. So is “gay.” So is “family.”

    What word would you use to describe a person who was once homosexual but is now heterosexual?

    “For generations, left-handed children learned to use their non-dominant hand instead of what was natural for them, because they would be punished if they did not. This did not make them right-handed.”

    Actually, it did. Acting right-handed, they built up the neurological pathways (brain and nerve connections) that are required to perform these functions, while those required to perform those functions left-handed atrophy. I have an ex-girlfriend (is that a made-up word?) who was forced to be right-handed. When she joined the police force and learned to shoot a pistol — something she had never done before — she was much better right-handed than left.

    “Sexual orientation is the same sort of intrinsic trait [as being left-handed]….”

    The jury is still out on that. Even if it turns out to be true, that does not mean it is impossible to change. You deny that possibility, and so you are insinuating that all those who claim to have changed are lying. That does not sound very tolerant.

  8. David says:

    Let me try to explain this another way.

    There are many people who come out as GLB and/or T later in life, having been in hetero relationships and perhaps trying to deny or suppress their orientation for a long time. Why do you suppose it is that these people don’t identify themselves as “ex-straight”? That would make exactly as much sense. We don’t define ourselves based on whether a person always knew they were gay or came to terms with their orientation later in life. Why would heterosexual people define themselves that way, as if they are expressing two distinct orientations?

    If someone is now heterosexual, the word I would use to describe them is “heterosexual.”

    I’m not actually saying it’s “impossible to change,” since I can’t speak for anyone else. What I’m saying is that people who claim they have changed their orientation, not just modified their behavior, are few and far between. The purveyors of “reparative therapies” will tell you the same thing when asked directly. And I also observe that there has been quite a bit of turnover among the public spokespersons who do make that claim; witness the ongoing emergence of “ex-ex-gays” who say that the movement is a fraud.

    For your analogy to the re-training of left-handed people to be convincing, people who say that their orientation had changed would never “backslide,” since, like your ex, their neural pathways would have changed – but that is spectacularly not the case.

    Are you insinuating that those among the growing number of “ex-ex-gays” lied when they became the poster children of this campaign? Or are they lying now?

    So, no, I’m not lambasting any person who at some point in time feels that they have experienced a change of orientation. I’m observing that the preponderance of the evidence supports a conclusion other than that being touted by groups like PFOX.

  9. Jack says:

    “If someone is now heterosexual, the word I would use to describe them is ‘heterosexual.'”

    That does not distinguish between one who was homosexual and is now heterosexual, and one who has never been homosexual. You do not consider the distinction important, but many people do. As such, they have coined the term “ex-gay.” Why do you have a problem with that?

    “[People] who say that their orientation had changed would never ‘backslide’….”

    Not true. They could simply have been wrong about the extent of the change. Being wrong is not lying.

    “Are you insinuating that those among the growing number of “ex-ex-gays” lied when they became the poster children of this campaign? Or are they lying now?”

    Not at all. As I said, one can be mistaken. That does not make one a liar.

    “I’m observing that the preponderance of the evidence supports a conclusion other than that being touted by groups like PFOX.”

    No, you are not. You say the change is impossible, but the preponderance of evidence shows only that the change is difficult, not that it is impossible. There are many ex-ex-smokers and ex-ex-alcoholics. There are far more ex-ex-dieters. Why? Because we need food. It is difficult to change, and there are very few who have done it.

    Sex is similar, in that we need love, and sex is an expression of love. If even one person has truly become heterosexual after being homosexual, then the change is possible. Even if no-one has done it yet, it may still be possible. Many things that we thought were impossible were done. Many of these barriers are psychological. The four-minute-mile and the 700-lb benchpress come to mind as examples of barriers that, when finally broken by a single individual, were repeatedly broken by others in a very short time. They only needed the example to show that it could be done.

  10. Jonathan says:

    Jack,

    You missed my question, so I’ll ask it again with a bit more explanation.

    Would you venture to describe our criticisms – as you understand them – of the “ex-gay” movement?

    I didn’t ask about an individual. An individual may have have a strong desire to marry and raise a biological children and at the same time, the individual may be handicapped because they have a very low other-sex romantic/erotic response. I fully support the right of this individual to disclose their “problem” during courtship, to seek therapy and to marry and raise a family.

    My question related to the “ex-gay” movement.

  11. Jack says:

    I thought I had done so. I believe that you think those who call themselves “ex-gay” are liars, and those who say it is possible to change are also liars. I think you fear that a viable method for change will be found, and you will lose the ability to claim that you have no choice.

    Now I have the chance to put my question to you again:

    What term would you use to distinguish between a heterosexual who was once homosexual, and a heterosexual who was never homosexual?

  12. David says:

    I don’t think they’re liars, Jack, I just think they’re mistaken. As you said, being wrong is not lying.

  13. Jonathan says:

    Jack,

    You answered my question with a question. That’s evasive. You never said anything about the ex-gay movement. Care to try again?

    We have many formerly “straight” married members of Equality Loudoun who are now in same-sex marriages/partnerships. We don’t refer to them as “ex-straight”. We refer to them as gay and lesbian because that’s how they self-identify.

    That’s the neat thing about identity. It refers to how one identifies oneself. If the hypothetical person that I described above would like to identify as ex-gay, I would support their choice of identifying descriptor. It would seem sort of silly for this happily married apparently heterosexual person to identify as ex-gay. By doing so, one might think they had an agenda.

  14. Jack says:

    No, because I do not understand your question. I will repeat myself, though: I think you are afraid of the ex-gay movement, because if a viable means of change is found, you lose the ability to say you have no choice.

    An agenda, Jonathan, is nothing more than a list. (It is the plural of the Latin word agendum, which meant an item on a list.) If an ex-gay believes, as the Bible tells us, that homosexual acts are sinful, it is so bad of him to have an agenda that includes telling people that there is a way out, that they can change?

    All agendas are not bad or self-serving, Jonathan, and there is nothing wrong with having one.

  15. Jonathan says:

    Ok, Jack. We’ll go through this step by step.

    1. Are there organizations that produce “Love Won Out” conferences, ex-gay videos, books, audios, …? Is there an ex-gay movement?

    2. Did I not say that I support the choice the hypothetical gay/lesbian individual makes to marry somebody of the opposite sex and raise a family? I fully support choice. I’ve said it, twice now, and for some odd reason, you don’t believe me. What’s up with that?

    3. If a gay person did make that choice and lived the “straight life” happily ever after, do you think they would be a spokesperson for the ex-gay movement?

  16. Jonathan says:

    From PFLAG Springfield/Eugene Oregon, a message in response to an upcoming “Love” Won Out conference:

    There is a world of acceptance, where you are free to be true to yourself and who you are. “Family” is central to ALL our lives; there is no need for isolation, separation or guilt. Understanding brings families together; PFLAG helps bring about that understanding.

  17. David says:

    The problem with the agenda we are discussing, that of advocacy organizations like PFOX, Love Won Out, etc., is that it does not confine itself to advocacy on behalf of its purported constituents. One doesn’t need an agenda to support the right of individuals to choose to have sexual relationships with persons of the opposite sex, whether those individuals are “really” gay or not.

    No, this agenda is focused on bullying, lying about, haranguing, punishing, coercing, demonizing, demeaning, and otherwise pressuring other people to also make that choice.

    I have NEVER claimed that there is “no choice.” We all make choices about how we live every day. As I have said before, my choice is to live my life with integrity as I was created to be.

  18. Jack says:

    1. I do not know, having never encountered it myself. But I will take you word that there is such an ex-gay movement. What’s wrong with that? (Actually, I just looked at the Love Won Out website, and they even say they’re not trying to “cure” homosexuals, but “[to assist] those who struggle with unwanted same-sex attractions and want to discover how they might also start upon the path “• a difficult path, as noted above “• to overcoming those desires.” It seems that does not really count as ex-gay, does it?)

    2. It is irrelevant.

    3. Maybe, maybe not. That, too, is a choice, and I would have no problem with their choice either way.

    Interesting, isn’t it, that PFLAG also uses the “scare quotes” around the word “family”?

  19. Jack says:

    Sorry, David, I was responding to Jonathan’s comment when you posted yours, and I did not see yours until I checked back.

    “No, this agenda is focused on bullying, lying about, haranguing, punishing, coercing, demonizing, demeaning, and otherwise pressuring other people to also make that choice.”

    There, Jonathan, David has answered your question for you. Certainly such actions, if true, are deplorable. It is even more deplorable to lead others into sin.

    “I have NEVER claimed that there is ‘no choice.’ We all make choices about how we live every day.”

    Exactly. Some choices are right, and some are wrong.

    “As I have said before, my choice is to live my life with integrity as I was created to be.”

    Rather than as God intended you to be.

  20. David says:

    “As I have said before, my choice is to live my life with integrity as I was created to be.”

    Rather than as God intended you to be.

    No, they are the same.

  21. Jack says:

    They are not the same. You never did follow up on our conversation.

    Go back to it. You cannot, Biblically, claim that God made you homosexual. God made male and female. You are neither. You are, as Jesus said, a “eunuch.”

  22. Jack says:

    BTW, I hope you do not take that last as an insult. Certainly, Jesus did not mean it as such, and neither do I.

  23. David says:

    Thanks for reminding me that I never got back to the article you posted. The topic of conflating sexual orientation with gender identity with other kinds of intersex realities deserves a post of its own, or perhaps an entire thesis.

    This may surprise you, but I think Bill’s essay is full o’ Cheetos. This is just one of many examples of gay wannabe scholars trying to appropriate ancient cultural traditions of gender crossing for their own political purposes. It also, I think, supports my point that people in the time of Jesus did not, understandably enough, have much knowledge of the process of sexual differentiation.

    What I was getting at with that term was not sexual orientation (gay men, let alone lesbians, are not eunuchs), but the fact that some people are born intersex, such that it is not clear whether they are male or female. It seems very unlikely, as much as Bill would like to think so, that Jesus was referring to gay people – especially since the concept of orientation had yet to emerge. That didn’t happen until the late nineteenth century.

    This is interesting stuff, and I will get back to it, I promise.

    Getting back to this thread, if I don’t possess internal knowledge of what God intended for me, who does? I’m going to trust what God says to me directly over human interpretations of other people’s experience of God.

  24. Jack says:

    “If I don’t possess internal knowledge of what God intended for me, who does?”

    God does. He tells us what He indended for us in the Bible, in which sexual relations outside of marriage are repeatedly condemned, and in which marriage is said to be for a man and a woman.

    “I’m going to trust what God says to me directly….”

    If “God” tells you something that is contrary to scripture, then it is not God speaking to you, but something else.

  25. David says:

    Scripture according to Jack, or rather, scripture according to the religious authorities that Jack trusts.

    We are all capable of and responsible for reading, listening, and using the reason we were created with for discernment. That’s what it’s there for.

  26. Jack says:

    No, that would be scripture according to Moses, the Prophets, the Apostles Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, St. Paul, Peter, etc. We call it the “Bible.” You should read it sometime.

  27. David says:

    Your snark has been noted 🙂

    Of course, you have conveniently left out the fact that the meaning of this “Bible” of which you speak has been hotly debated among theologians for centuries, and will continue to be so. The notion that it is “inerrant” is actually a quite recent development.

    What the UCC says is that “God is still speaking.” If you leave paganism out of it, you could say that’s the real “old time religion.”

  28. Jack says:

    The UCC is correct — God IS still speaking. So is Satan. There’s an easy way to tell the difference: if it is contrary to scripture, it is not God speaking.

  29. David says:

    Do you think that perhaps teaching that men have “done more” and are the default category of “human” is contrary to scripture? How about contrary to reality? By the way, when those things are contrary to each other, we have a problem.

    Whenever someone elevates the notion of scriptural inerrancy above reason and material reality, I think that is Satan speaking. Who else would tell people not to trust their own experience of God? Who else would discourage people from sharing their stories and asking what these older stories mean?

  30. Jack says:

    We will continue the conversation here.

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