Monday, February 27, 2012

Speech before the Montgomery County (Maryland) Board of Education

I am Grace Harley, speaking for Parents and Friends of Ex-Gays & Gays, known as PFOX, a non-profit organization that works to eliminate negative perceptions and discrimination against former homosexuals. 


I lived for 18 years as a transgendered man called “Joe.”  During that time, I was involved in same-sex relationships.  But now I am a member of the ex-gay community for over 19 years. 


I am sad that Superintendent Joshua Starr has called me and other ex-gays names like “deplorable” and “disgusting.”  What saddens me more is that you, the Board of Education, have not reprimanded Superintendent Starr.  If he had said the same things about gays, you would have fired him by now.  But because he hates people like me, you support him. 


I have suffered more discrimination and intolerance as an ex-gay than I ever did when I was gay.  Please stop hating us.  Follow your own Non-Discrimination Policy.  You and the Superintendent are role models for children in the Montgomery County Public Schools.  If you stop hating former homosexuals, our students will not learn to hate either. 


We absolutely need diversity training in our schools on tolerance for the ex-gay community.  Teachers, principals, and Superintendent Starr cannot be allowed to use their official position to display hate against any group of people.  Our schools must provide equal access.


I am submitting a newspaper editorial written by a student at Walter Johnson High School.  She says, “We cannot call ourselves tolerant while sealing off our schools from groups that we disagree with…we cannot make the right decisions unless we hear all sides of the story.”  Let’s learn from our students.  Thank you.


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