Monday, June 14, 2010

Ex-gays face discrimination at every level

Ex-gays face discrimination at every level

Posted by Jack Minor • June 11, 2010 • Printer-friendly

By Jack Minor

At a time when many businesses as well as local and federal government agencies are expanding civil rights protections to include sexual orientation, ex-gays are often denied those same protections.

Parents and Friends of Ex-gays and Gays (PFOX) recently asked for and were denied permission to set up a booth to distribute literature at the annual Parent Teacher Association convention in Nashville. This is not the first time the group has been rejected by the PTA. In the rejection letter, Chuck Saylors, the national PTA president,  said “Through our exhibitors screening approval process, we determined that your organization's mission, goals, and objectives are not in harmony with National PTA’s Diversity and Inclusion Policy; and therefore, do not align with our Association’s core values and beliefs.”

The PTA’s “Diversity and Inclusion Policy” states the “recognition of diversity within organizations is valuing differences and similarities in people.” The policy goes on to list age, ethnicity, language and culture, sexual orientation, economic status, educational background, gender, geographic location, marital status, mental ability, national origin, organizational position and tenure, parental status, physical ability, political philosophy, race, religion, and work experience as differences that should be valued.

The policy also states that PTAs at every level “must foster programs and practices that eliminate bias, prejudice, and misunderstandings within their communities” as well as to “propose change wherever discriminatory practices are perceived.”

The Gazette asked the PTA exactly why PFOX did not meet the definitions of diversity as listed in their policy. James Martinez, the PTA’s Media Relations Manager told the Gazette in an email that the letter on the PFOX web site has all the information around their decision. However, the letter does not explain why the organization does not meet the criteria.

PFOX Executive Director Regina Griggs told the Gazette the purpose in setting up a booth was to pass out an anti-bullying brochure and another about tolerance.  The brochure on bullying says that “bullying policies should provide protection for all students, and not single out certain students.” It also goes on to decry name-calling such as “gay” or “queer” based on the perception of others.

The brochure on tolerance states PFOX is a pro-ex-gay organization and they merely ask for the same protection from discrimination as others. “Ex-gays and their supporters live in an increasingly hostile society where they are labeled as perpetrators of hate against gays simply because they advocate for or live out a different view of homosexuality,” It goes on to state “Since the early 1990s, gay activists have created a public environment where everyone who does not accept that homosexuality is as normal, natural and healthy as heterosexuality is labeled a 'bigot' whose attitudes equate to racism. Alternatives to homosexuality are interpreted as ‘harassment’ against gays, even though the individuals seeking to leave their same sex attractions are merely exercising freedom to reaffirm the gender of their birth.”

Griggs said she asked Mr. Saylors exactly how PFOX violates their diversity policy but they have yet to receive a response. Critics of the ex-gay movement such as Parents, Families, and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG) state that organizations supporting those that have chosen to leave the gay lifestyle are “dangerous.” PFLAG in a brochure called “Straight for Equality in Healthcare” says that organizations such as PFOX are “snake-oil salesmen” and that encouraging those who have chosen to leave the gay lifestyle has been declared unethical by the major medical and mental health associations.

Greg Quinlan, the president of PFOX disputes that assertion, telling the Gazette he is proof that someone can leave the gay lifestyle. Quinlan said he first became involved in homosexuality at the age of 10 with a 13-year-old boy while they were looking at pornography. Quinlan said despite growing up in church, his father showed him no affection and after the first sexual encounter he received acceptance, approval, and affirmation, something he never received at home which made him come back for more. He made his sexual behavior public at age 23 and had many sexual encounters, visited gay bathhouses all across the state, was a regular patron of porn shops, and lived the party life within gay social circles. In 1989 Quinlan said he trusted Christ as his Saviour and left the gay lifestyle and has been living a heterosexual lifestyle since.

The organization’s website www.pfox.org lists testimonies from others who have also left the gay lifestyle such as Steven who says it has been 29 years since he left the lifestyle and now has a wife and two children.

Griggs denies that the organization is anti-gay stating that “while certainly some religious organizations use strong language such as ‘abomination’ or ‘sodomite’ we do not do so. We want individuals that choose to leave the gay lifestyle to know they are loved and encouraged, not vilified and hated for simply making a choice.”

Quinlan said those such as himself that have made this choice should be tolerated and enjoy the same protection from discrimination as any other group. In November 2009, Washington, DC Mayor Adrian Fenty issued a District of Columbia's certificate of appreciation, signed by then they praising Griggs for her “dedication, commitment, and outstanding contributions” in her role at PFOX.

However, when word of the honor hit the newswires Rick Rosendall of the Gay and Lesbian Activists Alliance of Washington, DC fired off a letter demanding Fenty reject the ex-gay movement. “PFOX is notorious as a purveyor of junk science which constitutes an ongoing slander against gay people,” Rosendall wrote in his letter to the mayor.

There have been other examples of discrimination and intimidation of ex-gays. Disney at their 2010 annual shareholders meeting rejected a proposal to discuss including ex-gays in their mandatory diversity training. In 2007, at the Arlington County Fair in Virginia, police stated there was a confrontation between an individual who was upset over the PFOX message about leaving homosexuality and a volunteer at the fair booth.

Griggs said at the time “The gays became infuriated when our ex-gay volunteers testified about leaving homosexuality. … One gay man went so far as to hit our ex-gay volunteer because he refused to recant his ex-gay testimony.” Police reports confirm the events happened as Griggs described.

Quinlan confirmed the harassment that ex-gays face, stating “I have faced far more discrimination and harassment since I left the gay lifestyle than I ever did while I was gay.”


Tagged as: age, Association, booth, choice, DC, Diversity Inclusion Policy, Gazette, language, left, letter, movement, organization, PFLAG, PFOX, policy, PTA, state, status, time, Washington

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