Ex-Gay Group May Pursue Legal Action Against Va. Public Universities Over 'Viewpoint Discrimination'

An ex-gay organization has demanded that public universities in the Commonwealth of Virginia that have LGBTQ resource offices provide a more balanced view on homosexuality.

Voice of the Voiceless (VoV) has stated that several universities must provide resources for homosexuals seeking to change their sexual orientation or face possible legal action.

Christopher Doyle, president and co-founder of VoV, told The Christian Post that he believed gay activists were silencing those have "unwanted same-sex attraction (SSA)."

"They portray therapists or ministries that support those with unwanted SSA as simple-minded religious bigots who merely 'pray away the gay' and use archaic behavioral techniques to district one away from their homosexual urges," said Doyle.

"There are thousands of others like me across the United States, but our voices are not being heard due to bullying by gay activists. This is an institutional epidemic that needs to change."

Doyle also told CP that various state-funded Virginia universities were barring information offered by groups who provide sexual orientation change therapy (SOCE).

"This type information and these types of referrals are suppressed or discouraged by biased resource center employees," said Doyle.

"Most counselors relied on stereotypes of SOCE or ex-gay ministries, and many of them didn't even refer to the specific type of counseling correctly."

A suspicion

Doyle told CP that the effort first came about based on a "suspicion" that "proper services through state-funded universities in Virginia" were unavailable for those with unwanted SSA.

"We visited seven state-funded universities in Virginia. Virginia has a total of 15 state-funded, four-year universities," said Doyle.

Often posing as an individual unsure of their sexual orientation, Doyle and another VoV member gathered information on what was being provided at LGBT resource centers on several campuses.

Their objection was to see if certain literature and other materials offered by ex-gay groups were readily available at the resource centers.

The academic institutes visited by VoV were the University of Virginia, James Madison University, Virginia Commonwealth University, Old Dominion University, Christopher Newport University, the College of William and Mary and George Mason University.

"After collecting this evidence, we contacted Liberty Counsel to notify them of our findings," said Doyle, adding that VoV members used audio and video recordings to document their evidence.

"After consulting with Liberty Counsel, they concluded that six of the seven universities were in violation of viewpoint discrimination by only including one point of view on homosexuality in their online or physical resource centers."

An unhealthy practice

While the Liberty Counsel and VoV have argued that ex-gays are the victims of "viewpoint discrimination," the campuses have countered that the procedures groups like VoV advocate for are rejected by mainstream science.

Rose Pascarell, the vice president of University Life at GMU, told the student newspaper the Fourth Estate about why such resources were not readily available.

"Mainstream medical associations have rejected it and have said that it is not a healthy response to the individuals and their questions and concerns about their sexual orientation," said Pascarell.

"I think we have a phenomenal LGBTQ resource center that absolutely supports students in all their choices."

Richard Chollar, director of the Mason LGBTQ center, explained to the Fourth Estate took issue with the allegations of bias leveled by Doyle and VoV.

"As soon as someone asks me for information about these groups, I tell them we have the information and if they would like some, I'll get that for them," said Chollar.

"He and I sat in the office and I turned and I pulled the file drawer out and I have them sitting in my file drawer."

Chollar also told Fourth Estate that the center at GMU does not "give students advice," but rather "options" and that he did just that when Doyle came.

"What groups like his are asking, in fact demanding, is that written information like brochures be displayed publicly," said Chollar.

"I will admit that is not what we do. However, he also says that he had to aggressively ask over and over again. That is just not my memory at all."

In addition to aiding VoV's efforts, in other states the Liberty Counsel is representing groups that offer sexual orientation change therapy against newly passed laws banning the practice for minors.

Advocates of sexual orientation change therapy have countered that gay sex is harmful and that no confirmed linkage exists between undergoing change therapy and depression or suicide.

The deadline

VoV gave the Virginia universities until Friday, Oct 25, to respond to their allegations of viewpoint discrimination.

Doyle told CP that as of Thursday he had not received any official responses from any of the academic institutions that were contacted.

"We do know that some of the universities have contacted each other, so they may be working on a consistent response," said Doyle.

"We intend to follow-up with each university after their response to send them additional documentation of their university's abuse and recommend specific reforms and policy changes. Their cooperation would help them stay away from a lawsuit."

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