Wednesday, April 25, 2007

CRC Tries to Respond to Fishback

On March 29, David Fishback, writing on PFLAG letterhead, sent a letter to the Maryland State Board of Education, CC'ing relevant attorneys and officials. The entire package was seventeen pages long, and I won't copy the whole thing. Here are some pertinent quotes:
Here, MCPS has chosen to discuss sexual orientation in 8th and 10th Grade Health Education classes. The curriculum revisions are important for the well-being of students and reflect the viewpoints of every mainstream medical and mental health professional association. It is certainly proper for any school system to base its health curriculum on information from, and conclusions of, mainstream medical and mental health professional associations. Indeed, MCPS relied upon experts presented by the Maryland Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) in developing and reviewing its curriculum standards.

The letter then quotes passages from policy statements by the AAP, as well as the American Psychological Association.

Fishback continues:
Finally, we note that while a principal gravaman of petitioners' appeal is their assertion that the so-called "ex-gay" viewpoint -- that homosexuality is a disorder that can and should be cured -- should be included in the health curriculum. This approach is directly contrary to the official position of the American Medical Association, which "opposes the use of 'reparative' or 'conversion' therapy that is based on the a prior assumption that the patient should change his/her homosexual orientation ... The AMA recognizes the dangers of the "ex-gay" approach. MCPS should not be forced to include in its health curriculum a "perspective" that has been rejected by the AMA.

The letter includes some attachments of documents from the AMA, and AAP, and the APA, backing up these statements.

This morning I was trolling around the Internet and discovered that the CRC's attorney has sent a letter to the state board, attempting to refute Fishback's letter.

John Garza's letter starts out with the usual pleasantries, and then gets down to the business of trying to make the other letter look bad:
Mr. Fishback’s letter, while purporting to provide helpful, additional “perspective” in this matter, actually distorts the issues and incorrectly states many important facts.

Mr. Fishback, as he has done in the past with respect to the discarded Montgomery County sex-ed curriculum, continues to provide twisted interpretations of information, misrepresents the facts of organizations and paints a selective picture of what he considers the truth.

I gotta say, I'm just glad I'm not sitting in Annapolis, getting these letters in the mail, one after the other.

Garza's letter is five pages long, and I'm not going to copy the whole thing here. Let me take a few passages.
  • Mr. Fishback’s “viewpoints” are not “mainstream”. They are at best controversial. Non-heterosexuality is a controversial topic; there is much scientific evidence to support other viewpoints, and Mr. Fishback ignores it.
  • Selective viewpoints relied upon by Mr. Fishback come from only a small group of professional members of the Gay and lesbian Committee within the American Psychological Association and American Academy of Pediatrics. Mr.Fishback fails to reveal that there are a large number of professionals within these same organizations that share another viewpoint based on scientific research on the topic of non-heterosexual individuals. For instance, a large number of these members share the views of The National Association for Research and Treatment of Homosexuality (NARTH) ( and the American College of Pediatricians. (, both of which are respected organizations. In this highly controversial issue, there is more than one scientific viewpoint. There is no scientific research that exclusively supports one view over another.
  • Mr. Fishback asserts that all information for the curriculum comes from mainstream medical and mental health professionals when in fact the curriculum contains information from a non-medical gay advocacy group, Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network (GLSEN). GLSEN is the same organization that provided a workshop for children in Massachusetts on actual techniques of gay sex. This organization is not main-stream.
  • The new curriculum reflects the sole viewpoint of a non-medical individual who was the only author of one section used in this 10th grade curriculum. The author’s statement that sexual orientation is “innate” is refuted by all medical, psychological and psychiatric associations, U S. Supreme Court, Director of the Human Genome Project at NIH and by the mere existence of former homosexuals. This author’s views are not main-stream.

OK. Bullet Number One, nothing to address here, mere assertions that "I'm right and he's wrong." Well, it should be noted that there is no scientific evidence supporting the CRC's viewpoint, and no scientific controversy, just a conflict between religious teachings and scientific facts.

Bullet Number Two: "small group of professional members..." The two groups that Garza cites, NARTH and ACP, are tiny groups with very lax admission standards, formed to politicize the issue of homosexuality. (The URL he gives,, is actually that of the American Center for Physics. You'll do better if you click HERE.) Members of those groups do not conduct and publish scientific research in this field. The AMA, both APA's (Psychiatric and Psychological), and the AAP are real mainstream organizations.

Further, the statements quoted are policies of the entire organization, not some small subgroup.

Bullet Number Three: information from GLSEN. Mr. Garza must realize that scientific researchers often rely on survey data from independent survey organizations, such as Gallup, Pew, smaller polling organizations, and groups like GLSEN.

I must also point out that the pairing of GLSEN with an incident in Massachusetts is misleading. Mr. Garza knows the facts in this matter, but can't pass up a chance to smear an organization whose efforts are aimed at eliminating discrimination and prejudice.

Bullet Number Four: the "non-medical individual." What can I say? Unbelievable. A chapter is used in tenth grade, taken from a textbook published by Holt Rhinehart and Winston, one of the largest and most reputable textbook publishers in the country. The author of the chapter is a woman from the Los Angeles school district with a PhD in education. It is incredible to think that the CRC would try to challenge a curriculum on the basis of the author of a textbook chapter! Especially when this person is perfectly well qualified to produce this work.

By the way, Mark Grayson, the Executive Editor over Secondary Health and Science at Holt, has volunteered to stand up for the textbook chapter and its author. Holt doesn't take these allegations lightly.

Further, there is no refutation of the statement that sexual orientation is innate. No one has refuted it. The Human Genome Project may sound very authoritative, but that mapping of the components of human DNA has nothing at all to do with innateness of anything, or say anything about sexual orientation. A former director of the Project, now known for his speeches trying to reconcile religion with science, is quoted in an article on the NARTH web site, where he does acknowledge that there is an apparent genetic predisposition for homosexuality; he has not conducted research on the topic, however. Further, the "mere existence of former homosexuals" is still a matter of doubt.

Garza then writes:
Mr. Fishback misrepresents a Clinical report written by a few pediatricians from the American Academy of Pediatrics as representing the exclusive views of the entire American Academy of Pediatrics. However on the front page of this report, a statement reads, “The guidance in this report does not indicate an exclusive course of treatment or serve as a standard of medical care. Variations, taking into account individual circumstances, may be appropriate.”

In fact, the statement, which you can read HERE, is a policy of the American Association of Pediatrics, published in their official journal, Pediatrics.

The quote that Garza has selected, from a footnote, is not relevant to his assertions at all: of course variations are appropriate. The paper does state, on its front page, not in a footnote: Not all pediatricians may feel able to provide the type of care described in this report. Any pediatrician who is unable to care for and counsel nonheterosexual youth should refer these patients to an appropriate colleague. The report is well worth reading, and seriously undermines the CRC's position, no matter how much cherry-picking they do.

Garza further writes:
Mr. Fishback mischaracterizes the American Medical Association statement on reparative therapy by suggesting the AMA completely condemns this treatment. Actually, the AMA statement only discourages reparative therapy for people experiencing same-sex attraction if treatment is coupled with an assertion that the person’s sexual orientation must be changed. The AMA statement does not address voluntary treatment of individuals wishing to change their unwanted sexual orientation.

The AMA's statement, which Fishback submitted to the school board, says the organization opposes the use of "reparative" or "conversion" therapy that is based on the assumption that homosexuality per se is a mental disorder or is based upon the a priori assumption that the patient should change his/her sexual orientation.

Can you imagine somebody wanting to change their sexual orientation? Would you ask for that? No, neither would I, and there's a reason for that. I don't think there's anything wrong with my sexual orientation. I cannot imagine a person going in for therapy to change their sexual orientation without the a priori assumption that everybody should be heterosexual. It wouldn't make sense. This whole argument is based on assumptions that are nonsense. By this reasoning the AMA would only approve changing your sexual orientation for purely cosmetic reasons, like you'd get liposuction or a nose job -- "I'd be so much more attractive if I were straight." No, people don't want it for that reason, sorry, they want to change because they think there's something wrong with them.

There's a little bit more, criticizing Fishback's choice of words etc., but you get the gist. The letter winds down with personal criticism of David Fishback and complaints about the "old new" curriculum, which was thrown out in a legal settlement in 2005.

The hard part for me is imagining this from the state school board's perspective. You get these letters from one side and the other. These messages are not dropping into a vacuum, everybody has some knowledge and some opinion on these topics. On the other hand, most people have not studied these issues in any amount of detail -- who, outside of the handful of people involved in these controversies, has ever even heard of an "ex-gay" before?

Groups like CRC try to capitalize on the fact that most people don't know about these things. You hear the phrase "ex-gay," and you might be tempted to think that there are actually "ex-gay" people walking around, you wouldn't think to guess that this is a hoax dreamed up by some conservative organizations to support their anti-gay mission. You hear about a group like NARTH, with its impressive name with the word "research" in it, and you might think it's a for-real organization, not a handful of weirdos trying to make a living convincing gay people they can become straight. Or the American College of Pediatricians -- that sounds impressive, you can't tell by the name that it is purely a political organization dedicated to the promotion of conservative policies.

These school board members have seen a lot of stuff come through their boardroom. But I can't imagine what it's like getting these letters without knowing about all the twists and turns this controversy has taken, the lies and the misconstruals, the threats and insinuations. It's gotta be hard, figuring this out.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Kennedy tries to refute Garza

and fails.

April 25, 2007 1:11 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

andrea- not anon-
Johnny, stop writing in support of yourself. Anyone who thinks Narth and the ACP are respected organizations probably also thinks the wife of the slain minister of finance of Sierra Leone is really writing to them. No one has to refute Garza- his poor writing and non-scholarship speak for itself.

April 25, 2007 3:00 PM  
Anonymous David S. Fishback said...

Thank you, Jim, for sharing John Garza's missive with us. I do not have much to add to your excellent discussion of it.

As you note, I attached to my letter to the State Board of Education the full documents from the AMA, the AAP, and the APA, which I cite. So the State Board members can read them for themselves. As responsible public officials, I am sure they will. This "debate" is really just between the mainstream health professional community and people with views like Mr. Garza's.

I also would like to note that I had the courtesy (and sense of fair play) to send a copy of my letter to Mr. Garza at the same time I sent it to the State Board. He did not, however, extend the same courtesy to me.

April 25, 2007 5:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

D Fishback wrote: also would like to note that I had the courtesy (and sense of fair play) to send a copy of my letter to Mr. Garza at the same time I sent it to the State Board. He did not, however, extend the same courtesy to me.


Garza is a joke and everyone knows it. Extending courtesy never happens with bigots and homophobes.
Garza is both.


April 25, 2007 11:52 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Go read the entire Gaza letter over at the CRC website. There are other items not mentioned by JK.

April 26, 2007 8:15 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"This "debate" is really just between the mainstream health professional community and people with views like Mr. Garza's."

Not true. MCPS and TTF doesn't consist of a bunch of mainstream health professional but liberal advocates who twist the statements of health organizations.

Any record of a dialogue or response from the mainstream health community to any CRC statement?

April 26, 2007 11:48 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Andrea- not anon

seriously- your note about MCPS is a joke, right?
Mainstream health organizations have made clear statements- did you even read crazy Johnny's stuff? He admits what these mainstream organizations have said and then he qualifies it(making up lies as he always does) by saying these statements published by the mainstream medical organizations are the opinions of a small minority- yet that is not what the APA and the AMA said when they published these statements. Johnny is certainly not the spokesperson for the AMA or the APA. The AMA and the APA stand by their statements on such things as reparative "therapy- the CRC just keeps twisting the statements to try to make people like you think there is some validity. Their own side is hitting back at them- lock at some of the statements by Throckmorton and "I am not ex-Gay" Peter Sprigg.


April 26, 2007 1:30 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


Neither the AMA or APA opposes self-initiated efforts to alter same-sex attraction. The APA president stated this last summer at their convention and the AMA's statement clearly says it only concerns those who are pressured to change.

David is twisting their statements.

Also, neither AMA or APA has engaged in any debate with CRC.

Wrong, David, again.

April 26, 2007 1:56 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Andrea- not anon
The AMA and the APA are not going to "debate" with CRC. They have stated their viewpoints-CRC twists them or lies(Garza claiming the published views are those of a small minority of the organizations- in his sad dreams). You may think CRC should be elevated to the same status as a national professional organization of MDs or psychiatrists or psychologists but no one else does.


April 26, 2007 3:58 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"The AMA and the APA are not going to "debate" with CRC."

Don't tell me. Tell David. He's the one who said they were debating CRC. I agree with you. They're not in this debate.

"They have stated their viewpoints"

Yes, they have. They're not opposed to those who, of their own volition, seek help trying to change bad desires and habits.

April 26, 2007 4:04 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Let me just add that given there are those who are willing to help, it's an injustice to not let kids who want help know it's available.

April 26, 2007 4:06 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

given there are those who are willing to help, it's an injustice to not let kids who want help know it's available.

Most people don't consider shoving gays into closets to be "help" and kids like Zack Stark do not "want help". Kids need to be safe to grow. They need to be protected from those who would try to force them to try to change their nature.

April 26, 2007 10:14 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Most people don't consider shoving gays into closets to be "help" and kids like Zack Stark do not "want help""

The TTF mentality is unbelievable. No one is talking about "shoving" anyone.

April 27, 2007 7:08 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It is a fact Zach Stark was "shoved." He was forced against his will by his parents to attend Love In Action. Many teens who muster the courage to come out to their parents are then coerced or forced, just like Zach was, to attend conversion therapy. Just because you don't want to talk about it doesn't mean that this is not the reality for thousands of teens.

Forcing or coercing teens into conversion therapy causes real damage. Real damage results even when this therapy is entered into on a voluntary basis, as reported by Shidlo and Schroeder in 2002.

Ex-gay ministries are actively targeting youth through their parents these days. ( These so-called ministries don't care about the harm they cause teens. They only care about the profits to be made as they work to allay parents' feelings of guilt, parents who, by the way NARTH blames for turning boys gay in the first place. They insist each boy turns gay because of "the absence of a happy, warm, and intimate closeness with his father...[and]...[c]omplementary dynamics involving the boy's mother." (

What a nice, self-perpetuating money-making system they've set up.

April 27, 2007 10:03 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

ff from Robert (I can't get my account to work either)

Dearest anonymous,

Wasn't it the APA that said that therapy that starts with the a priori assumption that it's bad to be gay is unethical? The only way you can argue that reparative therapy is not unethical is that it does not start with that assumption.

No let's look at the details: both CRC and PFOX are on record saying that gay=bad (PFOX at one point had a statement on their website that openly gay people are not eligible for salvation; John Garza on TV said that lessons which are supportive of LGBT people encourage homosexuality, and that is against some people's religion; i.e. gay=bad).

Therefore, the APA opposes the sort of reparative therapy that CRC and PFOX support. Some of these folks sometimes try to argue that they are just offering options to youth, but it's like trying to dress up a tired queen in a new outfit: everyone sees through it.

These folks (and I would venture to assume you also) think being gay is not such a good thing. The APA opposes that. David Fishback's and Jim Kennedy's statements are accurate; John Garza's are not.

Do you see the difference? There's a commandment about this.


April 27, 2007 5:03 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Wasn't it the APA that said that therapy that starts with the a priori assumption that it's bad to be gay is unethical?"

Hey, long time no chat, Robert.

Honestly, I think their view, and what they mean by "a priori", is that no one should do this out of pressure from someone else's conclusions. If one were to consider and come to the conclusion, on their own, that this something they wanted to change, that would not be "a priori".

When the APA president mentioned that he had nothing against conversion therapy, he specifically mentioned the conflict between religious belief and sexual attraction as a legitimate area where it might be appropriate.

April 27, 2007 5:16 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The APA president hasn't said anything on this topic. A former APA president did.

I wonder how anon would feel if somebody quoted Jimmy Carter, and said, "the president of the united states says such-and-such?"

April 27, 2007 5:18 PM  
Anonymous Must be nice said...

Oh come now Robert. If CRC types can't even manage to remember "thou shalt not steal" information from PTA directories even after being warned to cease and desist stealing PTA information long ago, I don't think you should expect much commandment following on their part.

Anon asks I wonder how anon would feel if somebody quoted Jimmy Carter, and said, "the president of the united states says such-and-such?"

Anon would feel just like Ruth Jacobs does when she quotes C. Everett Koop and says "the Surgeon General says blah blah blah" knowing full well he only was the Surgeon General from 1982 to 1989.

The ten commandments or even simple rules of decorum don't apply to the CRC apparently.

April 27, 2007 6:40 PM  
Blogger Randi Schimnosky said...

Anonymous said "Let me just add that given there are those who are willing to help, it's an injustice to not let kids who want help know it's available."

Wrong, its an injustice to use social and religious pressure to oppress and demonize gay kids so that they seek to change who they are to avoid the oppression and doubly unjust to lead them to believe they can change same sex attractions into opposite sex attractions when all the evidence says this virtually never, if ever happens.

April 27, 2007 8:27 PM  

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