Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Testimony before Montgomery County (MD) Board of Education

Testimony before Montgomery County (MD) Board of Education

By Peter Sprigg

Resident, Montgomery County

Member, Board of Directors, Parents and Friends of Ex-Gays and Gays (PFOX)

Re: Policy CNA and Regulation CNA-RA (“backpack fliers”)

February 27, 2012


Recently, controversy has again arisen regarding fliers from Parents and Friends of Ex-Gays and Gays (PFOX) that were distributed in several high schools. The flier states, “Every year thousands of people with unwanted same-sex attractions make the personal decision to leave a gay identity,” and asserts that such people should be able to “seek help and information on overcoming their feelings.”


The most defamatory accusation about the PFOX flier is that it is “anti-gay.” The flier included statements such as, “All individuals deserve the right to self-determination and happiness based on their own needs, and not the needs of others.” “All individuals” means all individuals—gay and ex-gay. The flier also declares, “PFOX supports tolerance.” That means tolerance for all—gays and ex-gays. Yet apparently for some people, “tolerance” is a one-way street.


The flier does openly criticize some behavior—namely, “labeling” and “name-calling.” Discrimination based on a person’s perceived sexual orientation is one of the things forbidden in many “non-discrimination” codes. Surely opposition to name-calling and labeling should be a source of common ground, not of division.


PFOX has learned that some teachers refused to distribute the fliers, thus violating our rights as established by not one but two federal court decisions. I urge the Board to obey the law by instructing all MCPS faculty and staff that the fliers must be distributed, and by disciplining those who refuse.


Now, some are urging that you abolish the backpack flier program altogether—potentially punishing every non-profit organization in the county simply to censor one message of freedom and self-determination for all.


That, ladies and gentlemen, would be “reprehensible,” “deplorable,” and “disgusting.”


Peter Sprigg is a resident of Montgomery County and serves on the Board of Directors of PFOX. He was a member of the MCPS Citizens Advisory Committee for Family Life and Human Development for six years (2005-2011).                                            


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