Group Behind Flyer Promotes Pseudoscience and Is Tied To Group That Justified Slavery
WASHINGTON – Truth Wins Out called on the Board of Education of Montgomery County Public Schools to immediately halt the distribution of a harmful flyer produced by Parents and Friends of Ex-Gays. PFOX poses a threat to vulnerable children because it is led by a discredited therapist and linked to a fringe “therapy” group that recently caused a controversy after a key member justified slavery. Mike Rogers, the editor and founder of PageOneQ, first reported the story.
“It is unacceptable that Montgomery County schools are steering students to a website with strong ties to an organization that believes Africans were better off as slaves,” said Wayne Besen, Executive Director of Truth Wins Out. “There are also concerns that this organization’s President, Richard Cohen (pictured), has suggested that avenging spirits are the cause of homosexuality. This could surely influence the way some students view their gay peers, leading to increased alienation or harassment.”
Students who receive a PFOX flyer will be directed to PFOX’s website where there are copious references or referrals to the notorious National Association for Research and Therapy of Homosexuality. In 2006, NARTH’s President, Dr. Joseph Nicolosi, announced he would step down after controversy ensued over an article that appeared on the group’s website. It was written by “Scientific Advisory Committee” member Gerald Schoenewolf and seemed to justify slavery.
“There is another way, or other ways, to look at the race issue in America,” writes Gerald Schoenewolf. “Africa at the time of slavery was still primarily a jungle…Life there was savage… and those brought to America, and other countries, were in many ways better off.”
The National Black Justice Coalition and the Southern Poverty Law Center condemned the article, and the Los Angles Times covered the scandal on Oct. 15, 2006. PFOX’s ties to NARTH are not peripheral, as Cohen has long had an intimate relationship with the group, even serving as a featured conference trainer at their 2000 annual meeting in Washington.
There is also the concern that students are receiving incorrect information on homosexuality that flies in the face of every respected medical and mental health organization in America. It is particularly alarming that PFOX relies on Cohen for much of its information, considering he was expelled from the American Counseling Association in 2002 for malpractice.
“The school board is confusing free speech with false speech and allowing a discredited group to peddle inaccurate information to students,” said Besen. “Ex-gay therapy is also considered unhealthy by mainstream experts and the equivalent of allowing the smoking industry to hand out flyers on campus touting the health benefits of cigarettes.”
In August 2006, the American Psychological Association clearly said that ex-gay therapy was scientifically unsound and could promote discrimination. According to the APA:
“For over three decades the consensus of the mental health community has been that homosexuality is not an illness and therefore not in need of a cure. The APA’s concern about the position’s espoused by NARTH and so-called conversion therapy is that they are not supported by the science. There is simply no sufficiently scientifically sound evidence that sexual orientation can be changed. Our further concern is that the positions espoused by NARTH and Focus on the Family create an environment in which prejudice and discrimination can flourish.”
In Cohen’s book, “Coming Out Straight,” he attributes homosexuality, is some cases, to ancestral curses and cites a book by Dr. Edith Fiore to back up his claim.
“Generally, the influencing spirits are seeking revenge, retaliating for wounds inflicted upon them,” Cohen writes, citing this passage in Fiore’s book to justify his theory.
“I’m not sure that this is the message that Montgomery County officials want to send home with students,” said Besen.
Truth Wins OUT is a non-profit organization that counters right wing propaganda, exposes the “ex-gay” myth and educates America about gay life. For more information, visit www.TruthWinsOut.org.
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