Demand Ex-Gay Tolerance Training for Staff and Students
February 9, 2012 – In response to media reports that Montgomery County (Maryland) Superintendent Joshua Starr called ex-gay flyers distributed to high school students as “reprehensible and deplorable” with a “really, really disgusting message,” Parents and Friends of Ex-Gays and Gays (PFOX) is calling for the Board of Education to reprimand Starr. PFOX’s flyers provided information to students with unwanted same-sex attractions, discouraged name calling and labeling, and urged tolerance for former homosexuals.
“We call on the Montgomery County Board of Education to enforce its Nondiscrimination Policy and censure Starr immediately,” said Regina Griggs, executive director of PFOX. “The Policy mandates that schools provide ‘an atmosphere where differences are understood and appreciated, and where all persons are treated fairly and with respect in an environment free of discrimination and … abuse.’ Clearly Superintendent Starr has violated the Board’s Policy,” said Griggs.
“Starr’s verbal abuse, disrespectful behavior, and slurs against the ex-gay community amount to hate and illegal sexual orientation discrimination, which are all forbidden by the Policy.”
According to media reports, Starr is discussing with his staff how to turn the flyers into a learning experience for students. “Starr does not respect diversity and is creating an unsafe school environment,” said Griggs.
The Board’s Nondiscrimination Policy also mandates training for students and staff to ensure its implementation. “Starr’s flagrant violation of the Policy demonstrates that all tolerance training and diversity education must include ex-gays, which is the only sexual orientation discriminated against in Montgomery County Public Schools. Its Respect for Differences in Human Sexuality lessons promote tolerance of gays, bisexuals, transgenders, cross-dressers and the intersexed, yet fail to include ex-gays, which explains the appalling lack of respect for former homosexuals. The Board must act immediately to remedy this blatant discrimination and include ex-gays.”
Last year PFOX met with Kevin Jennings, former Assistant Deputy Director of the U.S. Department of Education. Jennings affirmed the right of ex-gay organizations to have equal access in the nation’s public schools and agreed that former homosexuals should not be discriminated against during outreach efforts for students with unwanted same-sex attractions.
PFOX also met with Joseph Wheeler, Attorney for the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights. Wheeler agreed with the 2009 Court ruling that ex-gays are a legally protected class. PFOX had brought this lawsuit to ensure equality for the ex-gay community.
PFOX attended the Federal Partners in Bullying Summit held by the Department of Education in Washington, D.C. As only 175 attendees around the country were invited, PFOX was among the leaders in the field of bullying prevention invited to convene with the federal government and other national leaders to help stop bullying.
Ironically, Peter Sprigg of PFOX had received a letter of commendation from Starr for serving six years on the Board’s curriculum committee.