Fearing that facts may undermine stigmas and stereotypes, Focus on the Family and the Family Research Council have spoken out against Just The Facts, an educational resource guide that was developed by a 13-member coalition that includes the American Academy of Pediatrics, the National Education Association and the American Association of School Administrators.
According to The Washington Blade, the factbook was sent to 12,000 high-school administrators on Feb. 8, advising that schools should refrain from subjecting students to potential harm by promoting various unproven or discredited “ex-gay” conversion “therapies.”
The coalition had sought to update its previous, 1999 primer as reports escalated of schools being pressured to teach about reparative therapy and of youths such as Zach Stark being forcibly subjected to unlicensed counseling by an Exodus live-in program.
According to The Washington Blade, the booklet:
states various organizations’ positions on homosexuality and conversion therapy. The section includes a 2000 statement from the APA stating that the validity of conversion therapy is questionable and that practitioners should refrain from attempting to change a person’ sexual orientation.
The booklet argues that teaching about “ex-gay” therapy would be unconstitutional. Such teachings would violate separation of church and state because “ex-gay” beliefs are often based on religious grounds, the booklet states. And teaching about “ex-gay” therapy violates the 14th Amendment provision for equal treatment because, according to the booklet, such teaching could make gay students uncomfortable.
Ex-gay activist Melissa Fryrear of Focus called the book “demoralizing” for denying youths the unlikely hope that their sexual orientation can be changed by choice. The ex-gay movement advocates various therapies which, depending upon practitioner, may consist of:
- blaming parents for a child or adult’s orientation,
- pressuring youths to reject hobbies and gay-tolerant friends and to adopt gender-stereotypical hobbies and intolerant friends instead,
- encouraging youths and young adults to purge themselves of sexual and romantic thought,
- subjecting individuals to futile sessions of self-shame and self-humiliation, and
- discouraging treatment by mainstream professionals who are qualified to treat such matters as depression or compulsion.
FRC said that giving schools access to the facts amounted to professional organizations “using their influence to transform public schools into incubators for their radical social agendas.”
However, Focus on the Family said it “absolutely agree[s]” that the school environment should be a place where young people should be able to share their struggles with others.