Parents and Friends of Ex-Gays (PFOX) has filed a frivolous discrimination complaint with the Montgomery County (Maryland) Board of Education against its school Superintendent Joshua Starr (pictured). The kerfuffle started in February when PFOX disseminated 8,000 fliers at five Montgomery County schools, which led Starr to rightfully call PFOX “reprehensible and deplorable.”
FStarr claimed that although he vehemently disagreed with PFOX’s noxious message, the school district was legally bound to hand out the fliers because the law stated that the literature of all registered non-profits must be included for distribution. This has led to a reassessment of policy, with the school district considering the termination of the entire flier program. In this case, one rotten apple may ruin the entire barrel.
As the record unequivocally shows, Starr’s assessment of PFOX was correct. Robust and unambiguous evidence proves that PFOX is a radical anti-gay hate group that distributed deeply misleading and offensive fliers. The organization advocates discredited therapy models, denigrates LGBT people, brazenly uses outdated studies, deliberately inflates its credentials, demonizes its opposition, engages in false advertising, and refers students to disgraced therapists who use bizarre techniques.
The Montgomery Country School Board has an obligation to address PFOX’s deception and actual record, not the sophistic public relations campaign evidenced in its trivial complaint. The school board has a duty to protect students from harm and it is clear by PFOX’s own statements that the goal of the organization is to ridicule, malign, and shame LGBT pupils.
Here is the case against PFOX and why the Montgomery County School Board should dismiss its latest empty threat:
1) PFOX is a hate group that loathes LGBT people
In a press release outlining the group’s complaint against Superintendent Starr, PFOX’s Executive Director Regina Griggs wrote that PFOX’s flier “discouraged student name calling and labeling, and urged tolerance for former homosexuals.”
To the extent this is true, it highlights how the flier is deeply deceptive and is intended to conceal the true message of PFOX. While PFOX claims to oppose name-calling, its history tells another story. For example, in August 2010, PFOX president Greg Quinlan spoke at a conference organized by SPLC-certified hate group, Americans for Truth About Homosexuality. In his speech, Quinlan made an outrageous and offensive anti-LGBT slur:
“I wasn’t your flaming faggot, you know,” Quinlan said. “I can say that because I’ve been there and done that. You know, the one’s whose wrists are so limp that when the wind blows they slap themselves in the face. I wasn’t one of them.”
Let’s not beat around the bush – Quinlan’s recorded comment is reason alone for Montgomery County Schools to prohibit distribution of PFOX’s flier. It also gives credence to Starr’s assertion that PFOX’s message is “reprehensible and deplorable.” Had any other minority been publicly subjected to such a slur we would not be having this debate. Quinlan’s comments do, however, lay waste to the claim that PFOX stands for tolerance and diversity and is opposed to bullying and name-calling.
PFOX’s press release goes onto say: “Starr does not respect diversity and is creating an unsafe school environment. As School Superintendent, Starr’s actions make it impossible for Montgomery County public schools to provide an atmosphere where differences are understood and appreciated, or where everyone is treated fairly and with respect free of discrimination and abuse, as mandated by its Nondiscrimination Policy ACB.”
This rhetoric is fascinating considering PFOX board member Peter Sprigg, who works for SPLC hate group, the Family Research Council, once said that he wanted to “export” LGBT people and that he supports criminalizing homosexuality.
In March 2008, Sprigg responded to a question on Hardball with Chris Matthews about uniting gay partners during the immigration process by saying: “I would much prefer to export homosexuals from the United States than to import them.” He later apologized, but then went on to tell MSNBC host Chris Matthews, “I think there would be a place for criminal sanctions on homosexual behavior.” “So we should outlaw gay behavior?” Matthews asked. “Yes,” Sprigg replied.
“By the way, did you notice that a lot of gays who remain in the gay lifestyle also do a lot of body building,” said Goldberg in a live recording at an Americans for Truth About Homosexuality conference. “They will be in the gym a lot trying to build up their pecs…Because they have these body image issues and don’t feel they are masculine enough.”
Another PFOX board member, Matt Barber, recently responded to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s speech declaring that gay rights are human rights by saying, “How dare we, the U.S., export our decline in morality to other nations?”
Barber, who disparagingly calls the gay rights movement “the sexual anarchist lobby,” and the lives of LGBT people “The Gay Deathstyle,” is so extreme that he has even defended the debunked work of holocaust revisionist Scott Lively. Here are a few “loving” gems from PFOX’s Barber:
• “It boils down to this: there is nothing ‘conservative’ about one man violently cramming his penis into another man’s lower intestine and calling it ‘love.’ Or two women awkwardly mimicking natural procreative relations or raising a child together in an intentionally fatherless home.”
• “Indeed, it seems the common moniker ‘homosexual lifestyle’ has it exactly backwards. As opponents of the extremist ‘gay’ lobby have long illustrated, homosexuality falls dead center within our nation’s burgeoning culture of death.”
• “Unfortunately, however, we live in a society where this particular sin is embraced, promoted and even celebrated. People erroneously equate this unnatural and sinful behavior with ‘identity’ and ’orientation’ even taking ’pride’ in an objectively deviant lifestyle.”
• “It’s tragic when people yield to disordered sexual temptations that can literally kill them spiritually, emotionally and physically. Nobody with any compassion enjoys watching others ‘[receive] in themselves the due penalty for their perversion.’”
• “There are even self-professed Christians today who inexcusably join in with the secular Left in affirming homosexual sin as a good thing. There’s a word for these types: apostate. There’s no wiggle room here. If you defend or seek to justify homosexual conduct, you defy God. Not good.”
• “I don’t mean to be flip (okay, maybe a little flip) but can someone please tell me why on earth the Left insists that we ‘tolerate’ homosexual behavior while – as the CDC has once again confirmed – it continues to have results similar to brick-walling?” (Running head first into a brick wall)
The insincere “love” caveat aside, such extreme rhetoric should surprise no one familiar with PFOX. The group’s founder, the late Anthony Falzarano, once referred to hate crime victim Matthew Shepard as a “predator to heterosexual men” and once told CBS News, “AIDS comes from the devil, directly from Satan. He uses homosexuals as pawns and then he kills them.”
To recap: We have a crass organization that refers to LGBT people as “flaming faggots.” PFOX’s disparages and mocks gay men by claiming they, “engage in violently cramming [the] penis into another man’s lower intestine and calling it ‘love.’” And a key board members want to criminalize homosexuality or gay people exported.
Incredibly, this remarkably nasty and virulently homophobic group makes the outrageous claim that they carry the banner of true tolerance? I hope the Montgomery County School Board is not buying what they are selling.
Obviously, PFOX is using its relatively milquetoast flier to conceal its discriminatory actions, mean-spirited remarks, and mask its shocking level of malevolence towards LGBT people. And once vulnerable students read the flier, they are directed to the PFOX website where they will be subjected to poisonous anti-gay rhetoric or quack therapists.
2) PFOX misrepresents its credentials
To boost its credentials and bolster its failed attempts to appear mainstream, PFOX applied for and received a perfunctory “Certificate of Appreciation” from the District of Columbia. What PFOX isn’t telling people is that former DC mayor, Adrian Fenty, said in 2010 that the “honor” was a clerical error. After PFOX refused to take the “award” down, the Secretary of the District of Columbia sent a letter demanding that PFOX “remove Mayor Adrian M. Fenty’s Certificate of Appreciation from your website.”
Arrogantly, PFOX refused the request and the certificate is still on the bottom right-hand side of the organization’s website. This brazen action demonstrates of pattern of gross deception and illustrates that PFOX is deliberately misrepresenting itself as an organization valued by the DC government.
3) PFOX intentionally uses outdated science to deceive its members
Last month, Dr. Robert Spitzer disavowed his infamous 2001 study claiming that some gay people could become heterosexual. This was a major news event that was covered by the mainstream media. Yet, PFOX still has a video up of Dr. Robert Spitzer on the lower right hand side of its website where Spitzer’s is discussing his now retracted information. The disputed Montgomery County fliers direct students to the PFOX website, which contains the outdated Spitzer interview. This is a vivid and indisputable example of PFOX outright lying and distorting reality. This is not a simple difference of opinion or a political or religious dispute, as PFOX wrongly suggests, but a conscious effort to misrepresent the facts.
4) PFOX demonizes and lies about its opponents
PFOX smears LGBT advocates with whom it disagrees and literally demonizes them. For example, on October 7, 2011 PFOX President Greg Quinlan was interviewed on NewsPlus with Mark Segraves (WDCW-TV).
“Truth Wins Out if you look further, including Wayne Besen. He’s asked for people, you know, somebody needs to run Greg over. He needs to be hit with a bus. Somebody should inject him with AIDS. Those are the things that Wayne Besen and Truth Wins Out says about me. That’s pretty hateful rhetoric.”
As a result of this comment, Truth Wins Out sued PFOX and Quinlan (pictured). A Virginia judge quickly dismissed the case claiming that Besen was a public figure, which significantly raised the bar for proving defamation. However, when confronted with TWO’s original threat of a lawsuit, Quinlan abruptly changed his story on PFOX’s website: “The truth is that Besen once said to me in a private conversation that someone should run me over with a bus or inject me with AIDS.”
First Quinlan alleged that Besen made these statements to other people, then he reversed course and said that Besen addressed him directly in a private conversation. TWO challenged Quinlan to disclose when and where this alleged private conversation occurred or to provide e-mail or phone records that would confirm his telling of events. As of this date, PFOX and Quinlan have not provided evidence to back their contrived, defamatory, and fabricated tale.
Quinlan also outright lied on PFOX’s website about Besen being fired from the Human Rights Campaign (He wasn’t). During the court case TWO provided Quinlan and his legal team with a letter from HRC refuting the bogus charge. Yet, Quinlan is still unrepentant and brazenly repeating the false story, which brings into question the character of PFOX’s leadership team.
Last week, in a PFOX website post, the organization requested that people send harmful information about TWO’s Wayne Besen to the e-mail address WackyWayne666@hotmail.com, with the “666” symbolizing the “devil.” This is not the first time that Besen has been literally demonized by PFOX. The group’s former webmaster, who went by the name Burning Black Triangle, distributed a picture on the Internet that portrayed Besen as satanic.
A PFOX ally and former PFOX board member, DL Foster, once drew an Adolph Hitler mustache on Besen, who is Jewish, and circulated it on the Internet.
Despite his propensity to draw Hitler mustaches on opponents, here is PFOX’s description of DL Foster’s ministry:
Powerful Change Ministry Group (PC) is a national fellowship of 11 Christian African-American led ministries whose goal is to advocate change for same-sex strugglers among people of color. PC members work diligently to raise awareness in the Black community on the need for holistic ministry to affected individuals as well as their families. Contact: DL Foster, National Coordinator
Do Montgomery County Schools really want to place students in the hands of people with such alarming and extreme views?
5) PFOX recommends students go to bizarre and discredited therapists
The former president of PFOX, Richard Cohen, was permanently expelled from the American Counseling Association for multiple ethics violations:
Cohen is the individual most associated with the discredited mental health techniques trumpeted by PFOX. When students read PFOX’s flier, they presumably go to the website. Once there, they are directed to either Cohen or those trained in his bizarre methods to “cure” homosexuality. Watch Cohen in action and then decide if this is the healthiest atmosphere for LGBT students who attend Montgomery County Schools:
PFOX also relies heavily on the “ex-gay” organization the National Association for Research and Therapy of Homosexuality (NARTH). Here is an example of NARTH’s “unbiased” and “scientific” views:
“We, as citizens, need to articulate God’s intent for human sexuality,” Dr. Joseph Nicolosi, President of NARTH, said in CNN’ 360 Degrees with Anderson Cooper, April 14, 2007.
At the Feb. 10, 2007 Love Won Out conference in Phoenix, Nicolosi told the audience, “When we live our God-given integrity and our human dignity, there is no space for sex with a guy.”
NARTH was co-founded by late Dr. Socarides who told The Washington Post on August 14, 1997, “Homosexuality is a psychological and psychiatric disorder, there is no question about it. It is a purple menace that is threatening the proper design of gender distinctions in society.”
In 2006, NARTH was ensnared in two major controversies. In the first, psychiatrist Joseph Berger, MD, a member of their “Scientific Advisory Committee,” wrote a paper encouraging students to “ridicule” gender variant children.
“I suggest, indeed, letting children who wish go to school in clothes of the opposite sex–but not counseling other children to not tease them or hurt their feelings,” Dr. Berger wrote on NARTH’s website. “On the contrary, don’t interfere, and let the other children ridicule the child who has lost that clear boundary between play-acting at home and the reality needs of the outside world. Maybe, in this way, the child will re-establish that necessary boundary.”
In the second controversy, Gerald Schoenwolf, PhD, also a member of NARTH’s “Scientific Advisory Committee,” wrote a polemic on the group’s website that seemed to justify slavery:
“With all due respect, there is another way, or other ways, to look at the race issue in America,” wrote Schoenwolf. “It could be pointed out, for example, that Africa at the time of slavery was still primarily a jungle, as yet uncivilized or industrialized. Life there was savage, as savage as the jungle for most people, and that it was the Africans themselves who first enslaved their own people. They sold their own people to other countries, and those brought to Europe, South America, America, and other countries, were in many ways better off than they had been in Africa. But if one even begins to say these things one is quickly shouted down as though one were a complete madman.”
It is critical that the Montgomery County School Board understand that when students take home PFOX fliers and are directed to its website, they are urged to contact NARTH:
Call NARTH (National Association for Research and Therapy of Homosexuality) at 818-789-4440 for the names of therapists in your area who specialize in reorientation therapy. To learn more about NARTH, they have a website at http://www.narth.com
How does the school board rationalize sending gay teenagers to a “therapy” group that justified slavery, calls homosexuality a “purple menace,” and believes that gender variant children can be “corrected” by allowing “the other children ridicule the child.”
It is also worth pointing out that PFOX directs students to JONAH and People Can Change. Both organizations are affiliated with unlicensed counselors, including Alan Downing, who allegedly acted inappropriately with at least four clients. Neither organization properly investigated or took action against the serious allegations.
It is essential to note that all respected medical and mental health organizations oppose “ex-gay” therapy, with the American Psychiatric Association saying that attempts to change sexual orientation can lead to, “anxiety, depression, and self-destructive behavior.”
Why would Montgomery County want to place LGBT youth, already at an elevated risk for bullying, depression, and suicide, in dangerous situations that can lead to tragedy? To continue allowing PFOX into the school system is to court disaster. It is grossly irresponsible, reckless, and a dereliction of the primary duty of administrators, which is to protect students from potential predators.
6) False Advertising
PFOX talks a good game about people going from gay-to-straight, but they have no evidence to back up their false claims. PFOX President Greg Quinlan exaggerated the success rate of Richard Cohen by saying that he cured 90% of his clients.
Where is Quinlan’s or Cohen’s proof to back up such wildly optimistic assertions? It is interesting how they conceal their “amazing” results and the methods they used to achieve them.
Ironically, PFOX is making such outrageous claims at a time when other so-called “ex-gay” activists are scaling back their empty promises. Alan Chambers, President of Exodus International, had this to say at the Gay Christian Network conference in January:
“The majority of people that I have met, and I would say the majority meaning 99.9% of them have not experienced a change in their orientation or have gotten to a place where they could say that they could never be tempted or are not tempted in some way or experience some level of same-sex attraction.”
John Smid, the former director of the “ex-gay” organization Love in Action, recently said:
“I’ve never met a man who experienced a change from homosexual to heterosexual.”
Last year, Former Brazilian “ex-gay” activist Sergio Viula admitted:
“In fact, ex-gays don’t exist – it’s pure self-suggestion.”
Even with such strong testimony against “change”coming from the least likely quarters, PFOX still uses the following billboard, which can be seen on its website:
The record of Parents and Friends of Ex-Gays (PFOX) really is “reprehensible and deplorable.” The Montgomery County Board of Education and its Superintendent Joshua Starr should dismiss their frivolous complaint and do everything in their power to keep this toxic hate group’s lies away from students.