FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Incident Highlights How Dangerous “Ex-Gay’ Message Influences Legislation, says TWO

Miami Beach, FLA. – Truth Wins Out called on a Florida lawmaker to apologize today for insulting student lobbyists and telling them that they need to enter a dangerous form of therapy that is rejected by every respected medical and mental health association in America.

In Tallahassee, students belonging to a group called the Florida Safe Schools Coalition visited with lawmakers to urge them to include sexual orientation in an anti-bullying bill. The students met with Rep. Alan Hays (R-Umatilla) who reportedly berated the students and suggested that they were mentally ill.

“After telling him my story he proceeded to say he was repulsed by homosexuals, and we needed extensive psychological treatment,” said Jessica Osborn, 22, a student at the University of Central Florida.

According to the Fort Myers News-Press, Hays confirmed that he met with the students, but said he couldn’t recall saying he was “repulsed” by homosexuals.
“But I did tell them that they needed some psychological treatment,” said Hays, who said he first asked them whether they wanted to hear his views on homosexuality. “I listened to their beliefs and asked them if they wanted to hear my beliefs.”

“Hays’ insensitive comments are outrageous and show a great deal of ignorance about homosexuality,” said Truth Wins Out’ Executive Director Wayne Besen. “Gay people are not considered mentally ill and all the major mental health associations say that attempts to change sexual orientation can lead to anxiety, depression and self-destructive behavior. Hays’ bullying of these student lobbyists shows precisely why sexual orientation needs to be added to this anti-bullying bill.”

“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 American Psychological Association wrote in June 2006.

“This sordid incident highlights why the ex-gay myth is so dangerous,” said Besen. “It allows legislators to justify their prejudice and vote for discrimination.”

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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