Gay rights groups are distributing fliers in county schools this week to show support for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender students after an organization distributed fliers saying that people can choose not to be gay.
Have you received any fliers in Wheaton? What do you think of them? Tell us in the comments.
Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays, the Southern Poverty Law Center and the Equality Maryland Foundation planned to begin distributing 50,000 fliers on Wednesday in all 25 county high schools.
The fliers include information about what the groups called “mainstream medical and mental health professional associations,” such as the American Academy of Pediatrics, say about sexual orientation. They also include links to literature from the American Psychological Association and the American Medical Association about so-called reparative therapies that are meant to change a person’s sexual orientation.
“Many religious denominations and congregations are completely affirming of LGBT people,” the fliers state, adding that DC Metro PFLAG can help LGBT people find “friendly congregations.”
The two-sided fliers also include links to resources from the SPLC and the Equality Maryland Foundation, the educational arm of the gay rights organization.
Click on the PDFs above to view the fliers.
The effort is a response to fliers distributed at county schools earlier this year by Parents and Friends of Ex-Gays and Gays that said that “people with unwanted same-sex attractions can seek help and information on overcoming their feelings.”
County schools Superintendent Joshua P. Starr decried the message of the PFOX fliers, calling it “disgusting.”
“We applaud the superintendent’s position,” David S. Fishback, the advocacy chair of Metro DC PFLAG, said in a news release. “But it is unfortunate that the [Montgomery County Public Schools] health education curriculum does not address this issue, nor does it permit health teachers to convey to students the conclusions of the mainstream medical and mental health professional associations that being gay is not an illness—unless a student specifically asks.”
Fishback recently debated Peter Sprigg, the Senior Fellow for Policy Studies at the Family Research Council and a PFOX board member, on News Channel 8’s NewsTalk. Video of that debate is available on the PFLAG National: Focus on the Field blog.
The news release from PFLAG, the SPLC and the Equality Maryland Foundation said that the groups are distributing the fliers “so that LGBT students will know they are being supported by the adults in the community, and to fill in the gaps currently existing in the health education curriculum.
“The absence of such knowledge contributes to bullying," the release said.
Students at Rockville schools told Patch that they were largely unaware of the PFOX fliers and found their message offensive. Rockville High School principal Debra Munk chose not to distribute the fliers as classroom handouts, but made them available in the school’s main office.
“It is vital for young people in Montgomery County to have access to accurate information,” Christine P. Sun, the director of SPLC’s LGBT rights project, said in the groups' news release. “While spreading this kind of misinformation is dangerous to the well-being of LGBT youth, not having the facts is a threat to all students.”
A PFOX official told The Gazette that the group is distributing its fliers this week at the seven county high schools that had not yet received them.