Tuesday, February 23, 2010

PFLAG/RYA Letter to School Board About PFOX

Metro DC Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG) and the Rainbow Youth Alliance (RYA) sent this letter this week to the Montgomery County Public Schools' Board of Education.
The Honorable Patricia O'Neill, President
Mongtomery County Board of Education
Montgomery County Public Schools
850 Hungerford Drive
Rockville, Maryland 20850

Re: Flyer distribution by PFOX

Dear President O’Neill:

Fliers from Parents and Friends of Ex-Gays (PFOX) recently were distributed to Montgomery County high school students. See http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/02/04/AR2010020404535.html) (“Potomac high-schoolers get note saying therapy can turn gays straight”). These fliers (a copy of which is attached) were distributed in accordance with official MCPS policy, which was modified to be consistent with the decision in Child Evangelism Fellowship v. MCPS, 457 F.3d 376 (4th Cir. 2006). The PFOX fliers tell students that gay people can become straight through "therapies.” We know that the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit held, in Child Evangelism Fellowship, that the MCPS flyer distribution program was a "quasi public forum," as to which there could be no "viewpoint" discrimination.

But, if MCPS wishes to continue the distribution program in its high schools, does Child Evangelism Fellowship require MCPS to distribute fliers that advocate doctrines relating to health that are in direct conflict with the consensus of the mainstream medical and mental health community? Alternatively, if the United States Constitution requires allowing the PFOX distribution in the event that MCPS maintains a distribution program for MCPS high schools, would it be better public policy to terminate the high school distribution program altogether?

The Metro DC Chapter of Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG) asks this second question, even though PFLAG has itself utilized the program since 2006, and plans to distribute its own fliers (in conjunction with the Rainbow Youth Alliance) this coming April. (A copy of that flyer is attached). It is imperative that the dangerous assertions set forth by PFOX not be distributed under MCPS auspices. By asserting that people can decide to change their sexual orientation, PFOX promotes a doctrine that has been discredited by every American mainstream medical and mental health professional association. For example, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), in a report available at http://aappolicy.aappublications.org/cgi/content/full/pediatrics;113/6/1827, states that the American Psychiatric Association has found that "homosexuality [is] . . . not a mental disorder." The AAP further concludes that “sexual orientation is not a choice; that is, individuals do not choose to be homosexual or heterosexual," nor is it something "that voluntarily can be changed." Indeed, the American Medical Association explicitly opposes “therapies” based on the incorrect premise that gay people are ill or that they should change their sexual orientation. See AMA Policy Number H-160.991 Health Care Needs of the Homosexual Population, available at http://www.ama-assn.org/ama/pub/category/14754.html.

In fact, MCPS itself provides as a resource for pupil personnel workers the American Psychological Association's Just the Facts About Sexual Orientation and Youth: A Primer for Principals, Educators, and School Personnel. This publication was developed expressly for school personnel and is endorsed by 13 other organizations, including the American School Counselors Association, the National Association of School Psychologists, and the AAP. It explicitly states that "the nation's leading professional medical, health, and mental health organizations do not support efforts to change young people's sexual orientation through therapy and have raised serious concerns about the potential harm from such efforts." http://www.apa.org/pi/lgbt/resources/just-the-facts.pdf at pp. 8 and 9.

PFOX is not a benign organization; the contrary is the case. One of its board members is Peter Sprigg, who served as a representative of PFOX on the Board of Education’s Citizens Advisory Committee on Family Life and Human Development from 2007 to 2009. Just a few weeks ago, on February 2, 2010, Mr. Sprigg stated, on MSNBC's Hardball program, that he advocates the criminalization of “gay behavior”: At the end of discussion on the inclusion of gays in the military (specifically, at the 8 minute, 38 second mark) (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/alvin-mcewen/frcs-peter-sprigg-support_b_446854.html ), Mr. Sprigg was asked by host Chris Mathews if "gay behavior" should be outlawed. Mr. Sprigg responded that "I think there would be a place for criminal sanctions against homosexual behavior." Then Mr. Mathews, presumably to make certain that Mr. Sprigg understood what he had just said, asked, "So we should outlaw gay behavior?" Mr. Sprigg replied, "Yes."

It may be regrettable that Mr. Sprigg currently is one of 15 members on the Citizens Advisory Committee on Family Life and Human Development, whose responsibilities include the review of materials for health classes that may address matters of sexual orientation. (We recognize that none of the appointments made in 2009 were based on organizational affiliation.) But it is far worse than regrettable for his views and those of the organization he represents to be propagated under MCPS auspices. While we are fully aware of the fliers’ mandated disclaimer (which is in small, fine print at the bottom of the PFOX flyer), we have heard enough complaints regarding the unnecessary hurtfulness of the PFOX fliers that we strongly believe the fliers have no legitimate place in MCPS.

Moreover, the history of negative mental health outcomes from such “therapies” could open up MCPS to legal liability. For example, suppose a 14-year old ninth grader, who recognizes he is gay but is under enormous peer and other pressure to be straight, receives the flyer and as a consequence seeks out a therapy endorsed by PFOX? The student may not know that the promoted therapy has been deemed dangerous by the AMA. As the therapy fails to change his feelings, he becomes more and more depressed, leading to suicide. See Report of the American Psychological Association Task Force on Appropriate Therapeutic Responses to Sexual Orientation, http://www.apa.org/pi/lgbt/resources/therapeutic-response.pdf, at p. 42 (“attempts to change sexual orientation may cause or excerbate stress and poor mental health in some individuals, including depression and suicidal thoughts”). Would there be a wrongful death lawsuit that could succeed against MCPS, particularly since MCPS is already in possession of the information discussing the dangers? It is not at all clear that the required disclaimer on the flyer would insulate MCPS from such liability.

Whether MCPS may, consistent with the Child Evangelism Fellowship decision, bar the PFOX fliers without eliminating the flyer distribution program in the high schools altogether may be an open question. But what is not an open question is that PFOX promotes medically discredited therapies that are dangerous to children's health.

We stand ready to work with the Board of Education and MCPS to find ways to deal with this threat to students’ well-being.


David S. Fishback
Advocacy Chair, Metro DC PFLAG
Olney, Maryland

Stephanie Kreps
Co-founder, Rainbow Youth Alliance
Secretary, Metro DC PFLAG
Gaithersburg, Maryland


Anonymous Robert said...

Indeed, in light of PFOX's misuse of it, MCPS needs to consider whether to keep the "limited open forum" open.

February 23, 2010 11:44 AM  
Anonymous i'm down said...

"dangerous assertions set forth by PFOX"

sounds like the people who wrote this letter have it out for PFOX

oh, look at the bottom

it's David

I'm sure MCPS remembers when they followed David's advice and approved the Fishback revisions, only to have a court rule that MCPS is a bunch of unconstitutional monsters

yeah, MCPS, go for it again

follow David's advice

go ahead

make my day!!

“attempts to change sexual orientation may cause or excerbate stress and poor mental health in some individuals, including depression and suicidal thoughts”

this is could apply to any attempt to change undesirable behavior from smoking to overeating to promiscuity to cussing at school to voting Democrat to forgetting to cut your hair to attending TTF meetings

you never know

it could cause morose feelings

people don't like change

February 23, 2010 1:23 PM  
Anonymous turn of the oven- Dems are done said...

it's such an exciting time

Dems are about to drink their Great Leader's kool-aid:

"If the Democrats use budget reconciliation to bypass the Republicans, they will be making a big mistake.

The longer Democrats have talked, the more firmly the voters have rejected their ideas.
Reconciliation is not meant to handle these sorts of problems; it’s meant to help Congress get revenues in line with outlays without letting protracted negotiations push us into a budget crisis. It’s not possible to do any sort of comprehensive, rational overhaul of the Senate health bill — which after all, was intended to be the opening salvo in a negotiation, not the final bill.

More broadly, for all that Democrats are declaring that they have a mandate, it’s pretty clear that the public does not want them to pass any of the health care bills on the table — which has to include the Obama plan, since it is only a minor tweak on the existing proposals. Polls have shown more Americans opposing passage than supporting it since early summer, and opposition has risen fairly steadily over time.

While President Obama promised health care reform during the election, the plan he ran on was much different than the one he is hoping to sign into law. Most notably, it contains an individual mandate, which he opposed during his campaign — and which the American public opposes. The individual mandate, along with the hefty price tag, are the two factors that Americans who oppose the legislation are most worried about.

Of course, sometimes politicians have to do the right thing rather than the popular thing. But this cannot be a blanket authority to ignore the desires of one’s constituents.

Democrats have had plenty of time to make their case. They have failed to do so. The longer they have talked, the more firmly the voters have rejected their ideas. If Congress goes ahead anyway, they will pay a terrible political price.

Many progressives are pushing the notion that having already once voted for it, Democrats will pay that political price no matter what, so they might as well pass it. That ignores several factors. First, a hated bill that failed last December is not going to engender the same ire as a hated bill that passed in May.

Second, Republicans will capitalize on the use of the reconcilation process, characterizing it as a procedural trick. And third, the provisions that go into effect early, like forbidding insurers to discriminate on the basis of pre-existing conditions, are probably going to push up the cost of coverage in the short run.

It’s far from clear that Democrats have the votes to pass anything close to this bill, even through reconciliation. Pro-life Democrats in the House may not go along with the Senate bill, which has more liberal language on abortion.

But even if they eventually go along, Speaker Pelosi could still be short of the votes she needs, thanks to attrition. To pass the Senate bill, she will probably need to flip a significant number of “no” voters into the “yes” column. Since most of the “no” voters come from relatively conservative districts, this is tantamount to asking them to commit political suicide."

February 23, 2010 3:07 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"If Obama fails on a comprehensive health care overhaul where Bill Clinton and other presidents failed before him, the chance won't come around again anytime soon.

The whole endeavor will now rise or fall on Obama's ability to sell his plan at the summit, and the reaction from lawmakers and the public in the days ahead.

Some rank-and-file Democrats were openly skeptical that the White House and congressional leaders could pull it off. Rep. Jason Altmire, D-Pa., a moderate who opposed the health legislation when it passed the House, questioned whether Pelosi could hang on to the votes that allowed her to get the bill through 220-215 in November. Since then a couple of Democrats have left the House, and Pelosi may also lose votes from anti-abortion Democrats who oppose the less restrictive abortion language in the Senate bill, which Obama kept in his plan.

Only 32 percent of Americans say Congress should move soon to pass a comprehensive bill, embodied in the House and Senate Democratic legislation and Obama's new plan. That was the finding of a poll released Tuesday by the nonpartisan Kaiser Family Foundation."

February 23, 2010 4:31 PM  
Anonymous 12345678910 said...

blah blah blah blah blah blah blah.

So many voices in your head, Anon.

February 23, 2010 4:59 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Here's another voice

At an anti-choice press conference in Virginia, staged to encourage the state legislature to pull funding from Planned Parenthood, Republican state representative Bob Marshall told the audience that:

“The number of children who are born subsequent to a first abortion with handicaps has increased dramatically. Why? Because when you abort the first born of any, nature takes its vengeance on the subsequent children,” said Marshall, a Republican.

“In the Old Testament, the first born of every being, animal and man, was dedicated to the Lord. There’s a special punishment Christians would suggest.”

February 23, 2010 5:03 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I saw that fellow on TV last night, who apologized and said he didn't mean it the way it sounded.

February 23, 2010 5:24 PM  
Anonymous David S. Fishback said...

To "I'm down":

It is so convenient for you to ignore the fact that, in 2007, MCPS implemented curriculum revisions that, in many ways, was much more comprehensive than the small revisions we proposed in 2005. PFOX and CRC again tried to derail it in court -- this time avoiding the federal court in which they won their temporary May 2005 victory because they knew that could not fool the federal court a second time (remember, that proceeding was an ambush, in which MCPS had virtually no time to develop a response and the judge based his TRO on an incorrect assessment of the facts and on a doctrine that had already been rejected by the Supreme Court).

Instead, PFOX and CRC went to the State Superintendent of Education, then the State Board of Education, and, finally, the Montgomery County Circuit Court, where they were soundly defeated each time. In 2007-08, we were ready for their frivolous arguments, and we blew them out of the water. The legal defeat was so thorough, that CRC and PFOX did not even try to appeal to the Maryland Court of Special Appeals or the Maryland Court of Appeals.

February 23, 2010 5:42 PM  
Anonymous the eyes in my head see the world spinning round said...

hmmmm...so, you're saying MCPS should take your advice and risk another major judicial defeat?

I'd like to see MCPS get defeated again too so it sounds like we agree

this is almost like the time me and Robo reached consensus on the roast beast at Roy Rogers

February 23, 2010 5:58 PM  
Anonymous like Obamacare, not so friggin' fast!! said...

"WASHINGTON (Feb. 23) -- The top officers of the U.S. Army and Air Force told lawmakers Tuesday that they should not repeal the military's ban on openly gay service members, parting ways with the nation's senior uniformed officer who testified earlier that it was "the right thing to do."

"I have serious concerns about the impact of repeal of the law on a force that's fully engaged in two wars and has been at war for 8 1/2 years," Army Gen. George Casey told the Senate Armed Services Committee. "We just don't know the impacts on readiness and military effectiveness."

Across Capitol Hill, Air Force Gen. Norton Schwartz echoed that sentiment. He told the House Armed Services Committee it was his "strong conviction" that "this is not the time to perturb the force that is at the moment stretched by demand in Iraq and Afghanistan."

The service chiefs' testimony comes less than three weeks after Adm. Michael Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told senators the 17-year-old "don't ask, don't tell" policy forced gays and lesbians "to lie about who they are" in order to serve their country. Mullen made it clear he was expressing his personal view.

The reluctance of the service chiefs -- Marine Corps Commandant Gen. James Conway testifies Wednesday but is believed opposed to any change -- could guarantee that President Barack Obama's goal of overturning the policy won't come any time soon.

Both generals opposed a moratorium on discharges while the military studies whether to repeal the law banning gays from serving openly.

But Casey and Army Secretary John McHugh told senators a moratorium would cause confusion by putting existing cases in legal limbo.

"This process is going to be difficult and complicated enough," Casey said. "Anything that complicates it more, I think, I would be opposed."

The generals were warmly received by Republican Sen. John McCain, who earlier had flip-flopped on the issue when he discounted Mullen's testimony after saying he would abide by the opinion of military leaders.

McCain said a moratorium on dismissals "flies in the face of what the defense secretary has committed to."

The generals are employing "the thorny question strategy" favored by opponents of change.

"It's the same strategy used in 1993," he said, referring to the reaction when President Bill Clinton tried to lift the ban on gays and was forced to compromise by letting gays serve if they remain closeted."

February 23, 2010 6:11 PM  
Anonymous DADT is here to stay said...

it will never die


February 23, 2010 6:55 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Fishback has created a new protected class of people.

February 23, 2010 10:28 PM  
Anonymous Derrick said...

You´re losing, Anon.

Just accept it.

We can´t change minds, but we can ensure equality wins-- even if the bigots don´t like it.

February 23, 2010 11:03 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"remember, that proceeding was an ambush, in which MCPS had virtually no time to develop a response"

this attempt to portray the richest school district in America as David to the Goliath of some hastily formed parents' group has always been a little pathetic

give us a break

February 23, 2010 11:06 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"We can´t change minds, but we can ensure equality wins--"

you mean like in every state in the Union where people have voted and rejected "gay marriage"

is that the "ensure" you're talking about?

February 23, 2010 11:09 PM  
Anonymous Derrick said...

Looks like the "Ex-" Gay programs are going to face their false, harmful lies in the courts.


Great. Now we can prove that bigots and homophobia are the reasons for gay-related issues (suicide, depression, etc.)-- being gay, on the other hand, is not.

February 23, 2010 11:22 PM  
Anonymous wahhhh! i'm depressed by meophobia said...

what a great new reason to curtail freedom of speech:

if you say something someone doesn't like, they might get depressed and kill themselves

of course, if you aren't allowed to say things people don't like, what free speech could there be?

you're obviously free to say whatever people like

this could be a great new tactic:

we'll say Obamacare is so upsetting that it gives us suicidal thoughts

then we'll sue and bring in scientists to prove it

(little known fact: you can find a scientists who will verify and argue for almost anything)

we'll prove that the thought of paying more for lower quality care is depressing

we'll prove it in court

February 24, 2010 12:02 AM  
Anonymous Robert said...


We can change minds, I've seen it happen.

Equality when you are hated isn't worth that much, and is risky.

Let's check back in with our anonymous friend in 10 years and see what he thinks.


February 24, 2010 4:19 AM  
Anonymous grim prospects for the gay agenda said...

better yet, look back two years ago when TTF was saying scientists have proved that abstinence education works and that the globe has never been this warm and that "gay marriage" is a slam dunk in California

or last year at this time when the new hopey changey administration said it would end DADT and that Sarah Palin was history

the future holds but one certainty:

the gay agenda will lose

February 24, 2010 8:16 AM  
Anonymous Aunt Bea said...

Here's what years of anger, resentment, and hate have caused some men to do.

James W. von Brunn killed a black guard at the US Holocaust Museum

Scott Roeder shot Dr. George Tiller at his church

Joseph Stack set his house on fire and flew his airplane carrying extra fuel into an IRS office building, killing himself and an IRS employee

Let's pray for a change of heart for every one of our angry, resentful, hateful Anonymous commenters.

February 24, 2010 8:31 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Derrick said...

Great. Now we can prove that bigots and homophobia are the reasons for gay-related issues (suicide, depression, etc.)-- being gay, on the other hand, is not.

Sorry –you are wrong.
United States National Institute of Mental Health
Suicide in the U.S.: Statistics and Prevention

“More than 90 percent of people who kill themselves have a diagnosable mental disorder, most commonly a depressive disorder or a substance abuse disorder.” “However, suicide and suicidal behavior are not normal responses to stress;…”
Nowhere does the NIMH say that bigots and homophobia causes suicide and depression.

February 24, 2010 9:01 AM  
Blogger JimK said...

... better yet, look back two years ago when TTF was saying scientists have proved that abstinence education works and that the globe has never been this warm and that "gay marriage" is a slam dunk in California ...

Just in case somebody is new to this site, I will point out for the record that these are Anon's fabrications. These are typical, it seems that Anon says these kinds of things in order to give the impression that he or she has an actual point to make.


February 24, 2010 9:02 AM  
Anonymous Robert said...

The gay agenda is full equality for lgbt people.

The antigay agenda is the obliteration of lgbt people.

All projections aside, which is the better purpose?

February 24, 2010 9:30 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Here's what years of anger, resentment, and hate have caused some men to do."

casual perusal of the posts here would tend to suggest that these type of years are what TTF advocates have been having

"Let's pray for a change of heart for every one of our angry, resentful, hateful Anonymous commenters."

Well, it's a start so I won't discourage you.

"Just in case somebody is new to this site, I will point out for the record that these are Anon's fabrications."

since the detailed history of statements here apparently isn't enough of a "record", let's just make three points:

1. for years, TTF's mantra has been "science has proved abstinence education doesn't work"

it's an assertion that has been refuted by a recent study that was called "game-changing" by a former comp sex ed advocate in a Washington Post front page story

2. for years, "scientists" of CRU at East Anglia manipulated data to make it appear that the current warming of the globe is a unique event in human history

last week, Phil Jones, chief perp in the climategate scandal, admitted that this clay and granite planet was actually warmer during medieval times than now

3. about this time two years ago, TTFers and other gay agenda promoters were giddy about the upcoming referendum in our most populous state, which was about to make "gay marriage" the law for about 10% of the population

they got a surprise in November 2008


now, after this week's testimony of key military leaders before Congress, it doesn't look like DADT is ending anytime soon

the future holds but one certainty:

the gay agenda will lose

February 24, 2010 3:13 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Andrea- not anon
I love Anon accepting the "apology" of that moron who represents Manssas,Va. He is a poor GOP politician who realized(or was told) he had insulted the teaparty goddess, Sarah Palin. I guess insulting the rest of us who have disabled children would be A-OK.

Hey, Anon, did you also accept the apologies of Edwards, Vitters, Spitzer, Sanford and Gingrich? See, I am apolitical when it comes to cheaters and liars.

February 24, 2010 4:18 PM  
Anonymous i see dreary people said...

other than apologize, what else did you want him to do, Andreary?

you might want to consider if you are, in fact, a self-righteous jerk

just a thought

February 24, 2010 5:08 PM  

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