A public high school in Montgomery County, Maryland, is being criticized for distributing literature of Parents and Friends of Ex-Gays and Gays, a group tells gay youth to “transition out of a homosexual identity” even though the American Medical Association, the American Psychological Association, the American Academy of Pediatrics, the National Association of Social Workers and the American Psychiatric Association all deny the effectiveness, safety and ethics of reparative therapy. While Religious Right groups have sued for the right to distribute literature in Montgomery County schools, like the PFOX flyer which propagates discredited and harmful misinformation about sexual orientation and gender identity, they have also sought to deny this right to groups they disagree with.
Their pamphlet Preventing Bullying at Your School says that kids become gay because people call them gay, and that later in their lives gay people bully those who “decide to pursue alternatives to homosexuality”:
Many people, especially during adolescence, are called “gay” or other names even though they do not have same-sex attractions. Appearance is not a reliable means to know what another person feels. No one should be labeled “gay,” “sissy” or “queer” based on the perception of others. They may begin to believe what others tell them about themselves, which may be completely false labeling and cause gender confusion for the victim.
Moreover, a number of teens who do have same-sex attractions choose not to be identified based on who they are attracted to. Others are working to overcome their unwanted same-sex attractions and should not be called “homophobic,” “pretender,” or “fake” – derogatory words often used to describe ex-gays. Such name-calling can lead to depression, fear and feeling unsafe.
Students who have transition out of a homosexual identity, or decide to pursue alternatives to homosexuality, deserve compassion and respect. Their decision should not subject them to discrimination, ridicule, fear or hate.
Another PFOX pamphlet, Feelings Change, encourages kids to seek reparative therapy:
Lots of our friends had same-sex attractions when they were young and later on descovered [sic] they weren’t gay. You yourself may have heard, “You must be gay!” But no one should be labeled “gay” based on the perception of others. Get Smart! Explore the origins of your same-sex attraction. Why do I have these feelings/ Where did they come from? Why should I pre-label my life?
A growing number of teens with same-sex attraction are looking beyond a gay identity to define who they are.
Although your same-sex attraction may feel like a gay identity, a gay identity may not fit into who you are. If you are not happy with same-sex attractions or a gay identity, there is help. Find out for yourself. Get the facts! Find out who you truly are! Be informed before you decide. Before adopting a gay identity, get smart! Get the facts!
The PFOX board [pdf] is also composed of some of the most stringently anti-gay voices in politics today, including Matt Barber of Liberty Counsel, who claims gay youth are more likely to commit suicide because they intuitively know homosexuality “is wrong and immoral;” Robert Knight of the American Civil Rights Union, who thinks there is a conspiracy among gay Hill staffers to control Congress; Peter Sprigg of the Family Research Council, who has called for gays to be deported from the U.S., and of course, Greg Quinlan, who was once married to a fellow “ex-gay” woman until she divorced him. As Amanda Hess of the Washington City Paper notes, very few people serving on the PFOX board are actually “ex-gays,” but that hasn’t stopped them from promoting dangerous “ex-gay” reparative therapy to children.