I’ve been thoroughly enjoying the local evening news tonight. Leading up to every commercial break have been variations of this teaser: “Coming up – parents were shocked to discover that a controversial flyer had been sent home with students.”
“Up ahead: Why did some Montgomery County schools send this anti-gay flyer home with students last week? Learn why the superintendent of Montgomery County Schools says there was nothing he could do about it!“
“We turn now to outrage over flyers sent home with thousands of students from some Montgomery County high schools. The flyers were distributed by PFOX – Parents and Friends of Ex-gays and Gays – a group claiming they can help gay people turn straight.“
These are delivered with the what were they thinking intonation, widened eyes, and slight shake of the head one would associate with a report that administrators had failed to evacuate students before fumigating a building.
The meaning of these words and intonation is unmistakeable. The idea of a group claiming it’s possible and desirable to “turn gay people straight,” and that they were allowed access to students, is shocking and demands an explanation.
The new Superintendent of Montgomery County Public Schools, Dr. Joshua Starr, provided one: The public schools in Montgomery County are required, due to a lawsuit settled several years ago, to distribute material from any non-profit group as long as they allow material from groups like the Boy Scouts and PTAs (it’s an application of equal access law).
“I find the actions of PFOX to be reprehensible and deplorable. Every child deserves to feel welcomed and safe.” Dr. Starr went on to say that they are exploring options to address the situation, but said “unfortunately, my hands are tied right now.”
PFOX rep Peter Sprigg also got to weigh in, with a wan statement about MCPS being tolerant of “its gays, but not its ex-gays” Creative use of language, but no. The wheels have come off the Big Ex-Gay Bus. In the video below, three former Exodus “ex-gay ministers” apologize for the harm they did to others in the course of that work. They all acknowledge that when they were counseling other vulnerable people that they could change their sexual orientation if only they prayed harder, or wanted it more, or trusted God more, and presenting themselves as proof that “change is possible,” they were lying the entire time. There’s really no legitimate argument for doing the same kind of harm to high school students.
The way that the Montgomery County story was reported tells us something significant: This PFOX story was treated as pretty close to the equivalent of learning that a white supremacist group was being allowed to distribute flyers to students with the school system’s approval.