For Immediate Release
Friday, Feb. 4, 2005
Equality Fairfax contact: Kelly Schlageter
Phone: (571) 241-6342
February 4, 2005 — Today Equality Fairfax, Equality Virginia, the national capital area chapter of the Gay, Lesbian, Straight Education Network (GLSEN), Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG) of the Metropolitan DC Area, the Fairfax County Safe Schools Coalition and the Human Rights Campaign called for the resignation of Stephen Hunt, a member of the Fairfax County School Board. Hunt recently sent a letter to school principals in Fairfax County touting the junk science of “ex-gay” reparative therapy that major health organizations have renounced.
“Hunt should not be permitted to spread this kind of harmful misinformation,” said Paula Prettyman, President of Equality Fairfax. “Reparative therapy techniques — or “ex-gay” therapies — have been denounced by the American Psychiatric Association, the American Psychological Association, the American Academy of Pediatrics, and the American Medical Association.”
“Junk science has no place in our schools,” said David M. Smith, HRC’s vice president for policy and strategy. “No school board member should ignore the scientific evidence that sexual orientation cannot be changed just to push a personal agenda.”
Although the school board issued a public reprimand, Hunt remains unrepentant for distributing egregiously erroneous information about homosexuality to high school principals.
“If Fairfax County were a city, it would be the tenth largest city in the country” said Dyana Mason, Executive Director of Equality Virginia. “Students, teachers and staff deserve an At-Large Board Member who respects and protects every individual, not someone who tries to change them.”
More than 4 out of 5 lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) students report being verbally, sexually or physically harassed at school because of their sexual orientation and this harassment leads to decreased student performance, according to the Gay, Lesbian, Straight Education Network (GLSEN).
“This type of rhetoric only continues to fuel the already hostile atmosphere in our schools for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender students,” said Smith. “Hunt has done a grave disservice to the students he represents and should step down from his position on the school board.”