A Maryland group that claims homosexuals can change has angered a few parents after handing out flyers about their beliefs in student report cards at a local high school.
The Parents and Friends of Ex-Gays and Gays (PFOX) was allowed last week to give students at Albert Einstein High School in Montgomery County, Md., literature questioning claims that homosexuals are born gay, which has started a debate among parents in the community. A school board policy in Montgomery County allows nonprofit groups to send flyers home with students on four occasions a year.
The group describes itself on its official website as a nonprofit organization that supports families and educates the public on sexual orientation and the ex-gay community. It explains that it is not an anti-gay organization, that it respects people of all orientations, but also wants to ensure that people who no longer identify as homosexuals receive the protection that they deserve.
"Ex-gays are subject to an increasingly hostile environment where they are labeled as perpetrators of hate and discrimination against homosexuals simply because they advocate for or live out a different view of homosexuality," the website states, and argues that ex-gays are pressured heavily by the gay community to stay "in the closet" and not come out to show that their former lifestyle was a choice.
PFOX explains that its mission is to advocate for the right of ex-gays, who are often shunned both by heterosexual and homosexual friends.
The flyer that was attached to student report cards contained a similar message.
"In order to make an educated decision, you have to be informed! Sexuality develops over time. It isn't necessary to label yourself today," it reads.
"I don't like it," Karen Yount-Merrell, a clinical social worker who read one of the flyers that came with her son's report card, told WTTG FOX 5. "Everything in this flyer makes it sound like the goal is to be (an) EX-gay, (or an EX)-lesbian. It is not embracing of a different orientation. It reiterates a societal view that there's something 'wrong' with you, if you're not in the norm. If you aren't heterosexual. And teenagers have a hard enough time dealing with who they are and feeling good about themselves."
WTTG's report on the flyers caused a stir of comments, both from readers offended by suggestions that homosexuality is a choice, and others saying that PFOX's only goal is to support ex-gays, which it identifies as a minority group being repressed.
"The flyer assumes people aren't born gay because we don't know the medical details of how it happens. The flyer also says that falsely calling someone gay leads that person to falsely assume that they're gay. They think they're the ones 'really' being discriminated against; I've heard bigots say that before. Painfully bad logic," wrote one user named Alan.
"So why is it OK for liberals to call Christians names like 'bigots,' 'cultists,' 'narrow-minded' etc? Seems to be a classic double standard for which liberals are renown. Face it. Homosexuality is a sin and the person who chooses (yes, it is a choice) that lifestyle is going to be subject to penalties for that sin. What penalties? A wide range of diseases, a shortened lifespan and a difficulty in having stable relationships, for starters," replied a user named "truthhound."
A disclaimer was included at the bottom of PFOX's flyer, which read: "These materials are neither sponsored nor endorsed by the Board of Education of Montgomery County, the superintendent, or this school."
A PFOX representative was not available for comment at the time of publication.