Parents and Friends of Ex-Gays Kept out of Maryland Schools: Threaten to Sue

By Peter J. Smith

  ROCKVILLE, Maryland, July 18, 2007 ( - School board officials in Maryland’s Montgomery County may celebrate "tolerance" and "diversity" for gays, lesbians, bisexuals, transsexuals, and other non-heterosexual lifestyles, but have chosen to silence the viewpoints of ex-homosexuals in favor of a radical pro-homosexual sex-ed curriculum.

  The Alliance Defense Fund warned the Montgomery County Board of Education on Monday that it had to desist from censoring the viewpoints of outside groups that disagree with its pro-homosexual agenda. The ADF sent a letter to the Board on Monday on behalf of Parents and Friends of Ex-Gays & Gays (PFOX), which had attempted to offer students an alternative viewpoint to the pro-homosexual propaganda in Montgomery public schools.

"The board has a policy permitting the distribution of literature by outside organizations and community groups, and it is unconstitutional then for district employees to single out certain organizations for censorship," said ADF Senior Legal Counsel David Cortman.

  The Board had permitted a number of teachers and principals at district schools to warn against or actively discourage PFOX from entering their schools, distributing their flyers or making contact with students.

  At Thomas S. Wootten High School, a teacher and co-sponsor of the school’s Gay Straight Alliance (GSA) denounced PFOX as being "like the KKK but only in the form of religion." The teacher wrote to PFOX on his school email account to: "STAY OUT OF OUR SCHOOLS AND LEAVE OUR CHILDREN ALONE!"

  Dr. Joan Benz, the principal of Winston Churchill High School, as well as other school employees also instructed students to throw out PFOX’s fliers and placed PFOX’s name on trash cans in the school’s main lobby. A teacher from Winston Churchill High School also vowed that he "and many of [his] colleagues" would "fight further intrusions of your group (PFOX) into our public schools."

  In its letter to the school board, the ADF cited the binding decisions of the U.S. 4th Circuit Court of Appeals, which held on two different occasions that community organizations have a First Amendment right to distribute information to students without content - and viewpoint - based discrimination.

"The School Board has no right to silence a private speaker’s message based solely on that speaker’s point of view and that is precisely what is being done here," wrote ADF Legal Counsel Jeremy Tedesco in his letter to the board. Tedesco warned that unless the Board of Education takes appropriate steps to correct its employees for the upcoming semester, the ADF would file a civil rights lawsuit on behalf of PFOX seeking damages and attorney’s fees.

  Montgomery County schools already are in a heated debate with outraged parents over the Board’s June 27 approval of a new sex-ed curriculum called "Respect for Differences in Human Sexuality." The program promotes homosexual sexual behaviors as a healthy alternative to eighth and tenth grade students and provides the latter group a DVD on how to use a condom properly.

  The Board of Education had also denied a PFOX request to include ex-gay perspectives in the curriculum. Nevertheless several family groups are contemplating a lawsuit to stop the program for violating their rights as parents to educate their children in these matters.

"The school is not only engaging in unconstitutional viewpoint discrimination, but clearly it has also displayed an obvious desire to indoctrinate students with a radical, pro-homosexual agenda," stated Jeremy Tedesco, the ADF Legal Counsel. "Montgomery County children deserve a better education than this."

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