Thursday, April 21, 2011

Ex-gay group, Peter Sprigg trying to cause anti-gay havoc in Maryland schools

Peter Sprigg, Family Research Council
A situation is brewing in a Maryland school district which demonstrates not only the duplicity of the so-called ex-gay movement, but also the Family Research Council.

From the webpage Teach The Facts:

 . . .  the MCPS Citizens Advisory Committee for Family Life and Human Development voted to make some minor changes to the sex-ed curriculum. These changes were actually recommended by a previous citizens advisory committee and rejected by the district in 2007, and now a new committee has asked the Superintendent again to recommend to the Board that they modify the curriculum.

Last year the Maryland chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics sent a letter to the Montgomery County Public Schools noting that some statements that had been recommended for inclusion in the curriculum were rejected, and urged the Board of Education to consider adding the material. The letter was partly a reaction to an anti-gay fake pediatric group contacting the school district. The statements are:

* Homosexuality is not a disease or a mental illness (teachers currently can only say this in response to a question)

* Sexual orientation is not a choice and the American Medical Association opposes "therapies" that seek to change sexual orienation that are premised on the assumption that people can or should change their sexual orientation

* Children raised by same-sex couples do just as well as those raised by heterosexuals, and are no more likely to be homosexual

* Children who have fleeting same-sex attractions may assume incorrectly that they are gay or lesbian. Mere fleeting attraction does not prove orientation.

* Homosexuals can live happy, successful lives; they can be successful parents

The citizens advisory committee voted 9 to 3  . . .  to add these recommendations to the curriculum, removing the words "can or" from the second item.

Naturally some folks aren't happy about this. An ex-gay group, PFOX (Parents and Friends of ExGays and Gays) claims that the statements are bashing ex-gays, even though none of the statements say a word about "ex-gays."

PFOX told the American Family Association's One News Now:

. . .the initiative for the statements appears to come from David Fishback, the advocacy chair of Parents, Family and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG). That group, says PFOX, "actively supports hate against the ex-gay community" -- and Fishback, the group adds, "has a long history of ex-gay bashing."

Of course PFOX conveniently didn't go into detail just what PFLAG has done to "support hate against ex-gays."

However on its webpage, PFOX says the following about Fishback:

Fishback is the discredited chairman of an earlier Committee which had drafted controversial lessons on homosexuality and condom use that the School Board threw out after a federal court ruling in a lawsuit brought by PFOX. The School Board’s attorneys at that time had reviewed and rejected the statements. Fishback’s illegal curriculum cost Montgomery County taxpayers over $36,000 in legal fees.

However, according to Teach The Facts, Fishback:

chaired a citizens advisory committee that developed a comprehensive sex-ed curriculum for our county. The school district in the end decided not to adopt the curriculum as part of a legal deal to prevent a lawsuit, and also reformed the committee with all new members, including its chair, in accordance with the same settlement agreement. The curriculum was not "illegal" in any sense whatsoever. PFOX and other nutty groups won a temporary restraining order against implementation of the curriculum, and the school district bargained with them to prevent a lawsuit, so they could move forward improving the curriculum.

The site also says the following about PFOX and the legal fees allegedly caused by Fishback:

. . . it is ludicrous for PFOX to say that Fishback cost the county $36,000 in legal fees, when they themselves were the suers.

But the most interesting part of the story comes with the inclusion of another party. From the same article in One News Now:

Peter Sprigg is senior fellow for policy studies at the Family Research Council and a member of the board of directors of PFOX. He represented PFOX on the advisory committee and tells OneNewsNow he was offended by most of the statements -- especially the one condemning individuals who seek therapy for unwanted same-sex attractions.

. . . according to Sprigg, the other statements praise homosexuals as "successful parents" with children who "do just as well as those raised by heterosexuals," and that "homosexuals can live happy, successful lives."

The other statements, says the PFOX representative, "were basically presenting a rosy picture of life as a homosexual without presenting some of the counter-evidence or counter-facts about this lifestyle."

Sprigg said he plans to voice his disapproval at the next school board meeting.

Of course Sprigg didn't go into detail about said "counter evidence." Nor did he say just how he will voice his disapproval at the next school board meeting.

One has to wonder will he repeat the statements that led his organization (the Family Research Council) to be named as an anti-gay hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center. Statements such as:

  • Homosexuals molest children at far higher rates than heterosexuals,
  • Same-sex parents harm children, or
  • Homosexuals don’t live nearly as long as heterosexuals.

It would be interesting if he did, seeing that these statements have been refuted or debunked numerous times, including by the SPLC in this piece.

Or will Sprigg cite distorted pieces he wrote, especially one called The Top Ten Myths About Homosexuality.

The Top Ten Myths About Homosexuality is rife with numerous errors including:

1. Ten Myths repeats the lie that the Robert Spitzer study proves that homosexuality is changeable, excluding the fact that Spitzer has said on more than one occasion that his research was being distorted.

2. Ten Myths utilizes the work of  the organization National Association for  Research and Therapy of Homosexuality (NARTH). The website Truth Wins Out calls NARTH  a discredited "ex-gay" fringe organization that peddles fraudulent "cures" for homosexuality.

3. Most importantly, Ten Myths intentionally distorts information to make it seem that negative behaviors, i.e. drug and alcohol abuse, are indicative of the lgbt orientation. The pamphlet accomplishes this by citing data in regards to the lgbt community and such negative behaviors while omitting the fact that much of the data places the blame on homophobia for these negative behaviors.

A more detailed break down of Sprigg's errors and deceptions in The Top Ten Myths of Homosexuality is in this Huffington Post article.

As one can see, religious right groups cause chaos not only on the nationwide scene, but also on local scenes.
Sometimes the lgbt community and our allies tend to miss what can happen on these local scenes and it has the potential of coming back to haunt us.

I hope the folks in Montgomery County who support the new sex-education curriculum will not let this happen.



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1 comment :

Mykelb said...

Alvin, I sent your article to the members of the school board (with links). I copied you. I expect that these education leaders should use peer-reviewed science and fact based evidence to teach children in schools funded by the taxpayer, not faith-based opinions from a hate group policy maker.