Discrimination against ex-gays: Evidence of desperation
Culture warriors can hurt their causes by overreaching. It is one thing to advocate one's beliefs; it is another to seek to quash others'. I think the pro-choice groups overreach by trying to forbid counseling about the biological truth about a fetus, alternatives to abortion, or the possible psychological aftereffects of having an abortion.
Why not allow all the information to be presented to young girls who are pregnant? Seeking to silence opposing points of view seems to me evidence of insecurity - and suggests one's position cannot withstand scrutiny.
Some gay rights advocates also, in my view, do themselves no favors by pushing too hard.
For instance, regardless of one's views on homosexual rights, the war against the Boy Scouts is a prime example of ideology trumping good sense. If the gay/lesbian/transsexual activists are seeking some sort of 'mainstream' status in American culture, they need to understand there are places mainstream Americans don't want them to go.
(If you are not clued in about the mainstreaming effort, read The Marketing of Evil).
This recent example of overreaching was forwarded to us by PFOX.
On March 30, 2006, Parents and Friends of Ex-Gays and Gays (PFOX) exhibited at the Virginia School Counselor Association (VSCA) annual conference. We exhibited for approximately three hours before the VSCA and the Holiday Inn Select/Koger South Conference Center in Richmond, Virginia approached our exhibit booth and asked us to leave. The hotel offered us free lodgings if we would leave. We refused, citing breach of contract by the VSCA which had approved our exhibit application. Nonetheless, the senior sales manager and the front office manager of the hotel forcibly removed our exhibit with the approval of the VSCA president and past president.
That day the VSCA was scheduled to present a conference session entitled:
"Sexual Orientation: Meeting the Challenge to Promote the Health and Well Being of All Students. The presentation will be based on the concept of sexuality as a continuum and will provide a brief overview of gay history and culture, followed by a discussion about sexual identity development and the ways in which cultural attitudes and societal institutions have a negative impact on the health of GLBTQ students. Handouts will be provided and implications for school counselors will be discussed. Level: Elementary/Middle School"
When VSCA threw us out, we asked them why they were presenting a gay seminar but not allowing an ex-gay exhibit. They denied it and agreed we could attend the seminar and pick up the handouts. When we arrived for the seminar, a sign on the door said that the seminar had been cancelled because the speaker was unavailable.
This is the first time we have seen a gay seminar presented to school counselors for the elementary school level, at least in Virginia.
Although the VSCA liked two of our PFOX brochures on teens and bullying, they still would not permit us to exhibit only those brochures, although we were listed in the conference brochure and school counselors at the conference accepted our materials. The hotel staff rejected all of our materials. We believe that if PFOX had been allowed to exhibit for the full two-day conference as originally planned, we could have reached many more school counselors.
Following is some background on this issue, from PFOX:
Since the early 1990's, gay rights organizations have held that everyone who does not accept the notion that homosexuality is equivalent to heterosexuality is labeled as a bigot whose attitudes equate to racism. Consequently, it is those who disagree with homosexual behavior who need protection.
Alternatives to homosexuality are interpreted as discrimination "against" gays, even though the individuals seeking to leave behind their same sex attractions are merely exercising a freedom to reaffirm the gender of their birth. Indeed, fighting "discrimination" against gays has become a euphemism for attacks against ex-gays. In this climate of intolerance against ex-gays due to their very existence, support for the ex-gay community is interpreted by gay activists as discrimination against homosexuals. Claims of discrimination based on "sexual orientation" protection laws are used to silence or punish the ex-gay community and their supporters, thereby legitimizing intolerance against ex-gays. Courageous men and women who have left their homosexual identity must not be denied their constitutional rights by the passage of sexual orientation laws.
Q: What are some of the discriminatory actions against ex-gays?
Representatives of Parents and Friends of Ex-Gays and Gays (PFOX), a Virginia based non-profit organization, can testify to the acts of intolerance perpetrated against ex-gays in the Commonwealth of Virginia. Some examples include:
- Virginians for Justice, a gay rights group, demanded that Metro remove PFOXâ€™s subway billboards advocating tolerance for former homosexuals because such ads constituted "discrimination" against gays. Virginians For Justice and other Virginia gay groups do not interpret former homosexuals as being included under the definition of sexual orientation. They advocate that ex-gay speech in the workplace be termed as hate speech because it "discriminates" against gays. If sexual orientation legislation is passed in Virginia, ex-gay employees and their supporters will be subjected to claims of discrimination because they advocate for or live out a different view of homosexuality.
- When the Fairfax County school board passed its sexual orientation non-harassment policy, Dr. Daniel Domenech, the former superintendent of schools for Fairfax County, met with gay organizations to help implement homosexual presentations and materials throughout the countyâ€™s schools, but refused to meet with ex-gay representatives or discuss equal access for ex-gay groups. The School Board uses its sexual orientation anti-harassment policy to protect some sexual groups (gays, bisexuals, and transgenders) while discriminating against others (ex-gays). And, as with all other entities, the School Board uses sexual orientation policies to open the door for homosexual presentations under the guise of implementing sexual orientation policies.
- Robert Rigby, a Fairfax County, Virginia schoolteacher and leader of the Virginia GLSEN (Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network), picketed an ex-gay conference in Northern Virginia with some of his students. Mr. Rigby opposes ex-gay books and curriculum, although he endorses gay books and gay-affirming presentations in Virginiaâ€™s schools, and lobbied for sexual orientation protection for students that would specifically exclude any mention of ex-gays.
- During Sexual Equality Awareness Week at James Madison High School, a man who had left his wife and children to pursue a same sex relationship was allowed to address students on the "discrimination" he and his boyfriend faced in trying to adopt children, but a PFOX's request for an ex-gay speaker was denied. Therefore, gay speakers and presentations are allowed in schools but ex-gay speakers are censored.
- At the urging of gay activists, Fairfax County School Board censured fellow school board member Steve Hunt for recommending that high schools increase their diversity efforts by inviting ex-gay speakers in addition to already scheduled gay speakers.
- Jack Dale, the current Fairfax County school superintendent, met with GLSEN and Equality Fairfax, two gay rights organizations, to inform them that no gay teachers would be fired for being gay. He did not meet with PFOX or other ex-gay representatives.
- The Falls Church News-Press, a Northern Virginia community newspaper, carries a regular column by Wayne Besen, a gay rights activist who publishes with an anti-ex-gay byline.
Also: Please look at both our attached Tolerance Sheet and news articles here for examples of intolerance by gay activists against ex-gays and their supporters, as well as the below links:
Here. (Gay activists discover PFOX ex-gay store)
And, of course, gay activists protest ex-gay events almost everywhere. Here's one recent example:
Gay Rights Groups Protest 'Ex-Gay' Rally
by 365Gay.com Newscenter Staff
February 26, 2006 - 11:00 am ET
(St. Louis, Missouri) Hundreds of gay rights demonstrators protested in front of a suburban St. Louis church where the so-called ex-gay movement was holding a rally.
Inside the First Evangelical Free Church about 1,500 people each paid $50 to attend the 'Love Won Out' conference organized by the conservative groups Focus on the Family and Exodus International.
The audience was mostly made up of people aged 40 and over and mainly parents and family members of gays and area clergy.
Speakers used facts and figures to attempt to back up their claims that homosexuality is a matter of choice than can be altered. At no time was the audience told that the material already had been discredited by the American Psychiatric Association and the American Psychological Association.
Other speakers claimed to have been "cured" of their homosexuality by prayer and by intervention by "ex-gay" groups.
One of the speakers, Melissa Fryrear, said she had been "saved" from her lesbianism. She said that often homosexuality is the result of a fractured parent child relationship or sexual abuse.
"Ever wonder why some lesbians look mannish?" she asked the audience. "It's a vulnerability to be a woman. That suit of armor to keep you from being hurt."
Speakers also promoted books and other material on sale at the conference, including a $50 boxed set called "Male Homosexuality Package," that included books called "Coming out of Homosexuality" and "You Don't Have to Be Gay."
Some opponents of the so-called ministry were among the audience.
"What I'm hearing instead is, `We'll really love you more if you will change,'" Meredith Anderson, a student at a United Church of Christ seminary told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.
"What makes me so angry is that a lot of clergy and straight folks aren't speaking out about this."
Anderson pointed out that the UCC considers itself a gay welcoming denomination and supports same-sex marriage.
Outside, protestors carried signs that read 'God Made Me Gay', and 'Love Needs No Cure'.
"Telling a person who is struggling to integrate their sexuality with their spirituality that they must change to be loved or loveable or even to be loved by God is such a hostile damaging act. Love is unconditional or is not love at all," said Sam Sinnett, President of DignityUSA.
Dr. Mark Pope, a professor of Counseling and Family Therapy at the University of Missouriâ€“Saint Louis, condemned the conference by saying, "The organizers of Love Won Out state that homosexuality is preventable and treatable. They are trying to confuse science and religion. But you can't prevent or treat something that isn't a disease." He noted that the American Psychological Association has stated that "the potential risks of 'reparative therapy' are great, including depression, anxiety and self-destructive behavior."
Nearby as conference attendees filed out of the church a group of young women chanted, "Two-Four-Six-Eight, how do you know your wife is straight?"
Here is the PFOX 'Tolerance Sheet':
TOLERANCE FOR EX-GAYS
Each year, thousands of men and women with same sex attractions make the personal decision to leave homosexuality. Their choice is one only they can make. However, there are others who refuse to respect that choice, and endeavor to attack the ex-gay community. Media dealing with tolerance and hate issues generally fail to discuss the discrimination faced by ex-gays and their supporters. Consequently, many Americans are unaware of the widespread intolerance practiced against homosexuals who choose to leave homosexuality:
- The Gay, Lesbian and Straight Educational Network (GLSEN) has spent thousands of dollars distributing a school booklet accusing ex-gays of "harassment" because ex-gays want the same access to schools as gay affirming groups. GLSEN also urged the Seattle school district to stop renting space to a church because the church supports ex-gays. GLSEN's local Education and Training Director equated the ex-gay "message on campus" to "bullying and harassment" of students.
- The Human Rights Campaign (HRC) demanded that a contributor (AOL's Mrs. Steve Case) reconsider her sizeable donation to a children's school merely because it had indirect ties to an ex-gay ministry.
- Tim Wilkins was fired from his job as supervisor at the Raleigh News & Observer for daring to "come out" as a former homosexual.
- An episode of the NBC TV show "Will and Grace" condemned ex-gays as "freaks," "self-loathing closet cases," and "morally wrong."
- Police were forced to escort former lesbian Yvette Schneider off the Dartmouth University campus when angry homosexuals disrupted her speech.
- At the request of several gay student groups, Harvard conducted two separate investigations against employee Larry Houston because he discussed his former homosexuality on the school campus.
- Facing homosexual pressure campaigns, Detroit's three major television networks refused to run ads featuring ex-gay men.
- After receiving complaints from gay activists, the Michigan State Medical Society abruptly revoked its grant of continuing education credits for an ex-gay conference sponsored by the Catholic Medical Association.
- TV station KBYU, Salt Lake City, Utah yanked a scheduled segment on reparative therapy in response to calls for censorship of ex-gay programming by the state's gay political action committee.
- Cornelius Baker, the executive director of an AIDS clinic (Whitman-Walker) that receives federal funding, labeled ex-gays as "political extremists" who "tortured and brainwashed" teens, although he endorses gay outreach to questioning youth.
- After receiving "threats, insults and brutal letters" for running an advertisement for an ex-gay book, Psychology Today Editor Bob Epstein acknowledged the "dark, intolerant, abusive side of the gay community."
- Parents and Friends of Ex-Gays & Gays (PFOX) had to file a sexual orientation discrimination complaint against the National Education Association (NEA) for prohibiting ex-gays from exhibiting at NEA conventions. The NEA, which allows gay booths, is the nation's largest teachers' union, and in some areas membership by educators is mandatory. Although the NEA has condemned the Boy Scouts for excluding gays as scout leaders and urges public schools to refuse use of their facilities for Boy Scout meetings, it consistently discriminates against former gays. The NEA claims it can legally exclude ex-gays from its facilities because it is a private organization. Ironically, this is one of the same arguments used by the Boy Scouts in its successful Supreme Court case, Boy Scouts of America v. Dale. However, unlike the Boy Scouts, the NEA has issued resolutions calling for sexual orientation tolerance and diversity, so it cannot claim that it has asserted views opposing sexual orientation.
- Orlando Commissioner Patty Sheehan denounced her fellow commissioner for issuing a proclamation honoring an ex-gay organization even though she herself freely makes proclamations celebrating "Gay Days" every year at Disney World. Ms. Sheehan, an open lesbian, went so far as to compare the ex-gay organization to the KKK, thereby demeaning African-American ex-gays.
- After meeting with questioning youths in order to offer alternatives to the GSA (Gay Straight Alliance) at his son's school, former homosexual Stuart Van Dorn was physically assaulted by the older boyfriend of one of the youths because the youth had decided that he no longer wanted a same-sex relationship.
- Equality Virginia and other gay activist groups demanded that DC Metro remove PFOX's subway billboards advocating tolerance for ex-gays. As a result, the District of Columbia Metro system voted to eliminate the non-profit billboard rate for all charities.
The list is endless because every day brings new hostile acts against the ex-gay community simply because we dare to exist. The demonization of ex-gays by gays themselves is a sad end to the long struggle for tolerance by the gay community. That ex-gays and their supporters are now oppressed by the same people who until recently were victimized themselves, demonstrates how far the gay rights movement has come. Indeed, a new chapter in the movement has begun - the right of homosexuals and lesbians to leave that lifestyle. Although gay organizations advocate for the rights of homosexuals, lesbians, bisexuals, and transgenders, they do not add "ex-gay" to that list. Therefore, if it were not for ex-gay organizations like PFOX, former gay men and women would have no support in an increasingly hostile environment.
Americans need to face the real issue of bigotry -- oppression of ex-gays. Gay activists cannot claim sympathy as victims when they victimize their own.
Parents and Friends of Ex-Gays and Gays (PFOX)
~ supporting the right of homosexuals to change ~
Box 561 ~ Fort Belvoir VA 22060 703-360-2225 ~ firstname.lastname@example.org ~ www.pfox.org.
Parents and Friends of Ex-Gays and Gays (PFOX) is a non-profit organization supporting the ex-gay community. PFOX believes that all people should be treated with dignity, gay and ex-gay. We respect the opinions of others, even if they disagree with us. Indeed, we do not ask for their approval - only their tolerance.
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