Tuesday, Feb. 7, 2012

Contact: Wayne Besen, Executive Director
Phone: 917-691-5118

TWO Addresses Concerns with Montgomery School Superintendent Joshua Starr in Open Letter

WASHINGTON – Truth Wins Out sent an open letter to Montgomery School Superintendent Joshua Starr strongly urging him to stop disseminating “ex-gay” fliers by the discredited organization Parents and Friends of Ex-Gays (PFOX). The virulently anti-gay group distributed 8,000 sheets at five Montgomery County schools this week, even though Starr calls the fliers “reprehensible and deplorable.”

 “While non-profit literature must not be blocked based on viewpoint, it can and should be prohibited if it contains blatant misinformation that jeopardizes the health and well being of students,” wrote TWO’s Executive Director Wayne Besen in the letter to Starr. “The PFOX flier easily fits this description and the group has a dubious history that includes bizarre and bigoted practices that have no place in your public school system.”

The letter points out that PFOX board member Peter Sprigg, who works for Southern Poverty Law Center hate group the Family Research Council, once said that he wanted to “export” LGBT people and that he supports criminalizing homosexuality.

In August 2010, PFOX president Greg Quinlan spoke at a conference organized by another 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.”

At the same-conference, PFOX public speaker and convicted felon, Arthur Abba Goldberg, smeared LGBT people with ugly stereotypes disguised as scientific observation:

“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. “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.”

“Let’s not beat around the bush: If an unsavory organization insulted other minorities with despicable epithets and demanded that they be ‘exported’ or jailed – no school in Montgomery County would be distributing their leaflets,” TWO’s letter said. “The fact that you would allow this politically motivated organization to spread its noxious message about LGBT people shows an unreasonable and unfathomable double standard.”

Furthermore, 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.

“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?” TWO’s letter asks. “To continue allowing this specific organization into your school system is to court disaster. It is grossly irresponsible, reckless, and a dereliction of the primary duty of administrators to protect students from harm.”

Truth Wins Out is a non-profit organization that fights anti-LGBT religious extremism. TWO specializes in turning information into action by organizing, advocating and fighting for LGBT equality.