Posted at 08:52 AM ET, 03/29/2007
Letter to the Editor
Under the disclaimer that "These materials are neither sponsored nor endorsed by the Board of Education of Montgomery County, the superintendent, or this school," homeroom teachers across Montgomery County were given fliers from the Parents and Friends of Ex-Gays (PFOX) to distribute to students along with their second quarter report cards on Feb 1. These fliers have sparked a debate that can be heard from the halls of WJ, to the Washington area airways and news stands, all the way to PFOX headquarters in Belford, Va., and of course on Facebook.
PFOX Executive Director Regina Griggs said, "Since there is no equal access and no equal information about PFOX the goal [of the flier] was to send an informative message that told people about PFOX and allowed people to know the facts that change is possible for those who seek change and that is a choice for individuals. We certainly did not put in there that we sought change. It is merely to give [. . .] students the ability to go back to [their] teachers and get proof."
In an editorial published in the Mar. 2 issue of The Pitch, Jared Schneider and Eric Hoffman wrote that PFOX is "A group that advocates the 'curing' of homosexuals."
This statement is inaccurate. According to the PFOX website, the goal of the organization is to provide support for members of the ex-gay community and inform homosexuals that they can change their sexual orientation. According to Griggs, the organization is not out to have people change their sexual orientation.
In respect to the response she received from the MCPS community, Griggs said, "In wonderful Montgomery County where we thought that tolerance and diversity and respect was for all, we found that just the opposite is true. We have found nasty hateful statements. We are amazed that adults would speak out against ex-gays."
In Montgomery County, we preach tolerance for all, but how can we be tolerant if we judge groups that we know nothing about? We can not call ourselves tolerant while sealing off our school from groups that we disagree with. We have to come to the realization that if we want to allow groups like the AFL-CIO and the ACLU to pass out fliers, then we must lend equal access to groups that advocate positions that we do not agree with. We have to open our school doors to the community and let our school become a forum where students are able to express their opinions and be exposed to different positions on important issues so that they can come to their own conclusions. We have to remember that there is no right answer on social issues; it's just not that simple.
The truth is that PFOX is not a hate group. PFOX officials don't think that homosexuals who are happy with who they are should change. In fact, they are not involved in the process of changing people with unwanted homosexual feelings into what they call "ex-gays." All the organization does is provide support for people who had homosexual feelings, but don't anymore. They want to get out the message that it is possible to change, and whether or not everyone may agree with them, they have published scientific research to back up all of their statements.
Griggs said, "If you are happy being same sex attracted, why it is your position to discredit those who have unwanted same sex attraction and don't allow them their voice. Where's the tolerance in that?" According to Griggs, "The students want the information so that they can make their own decisions."
Ultimately, we can not make the right decisions unless we hear all sides of the story. The school board can not and should not pick and choose which organizations are politically correct enough to pass out fliers in schools. We need full disclosure so that we can understand peoples' unique perspectives and value them for just what they are, those peoples' opinions.
Sophomore Amy Hemmati