Despite the fact that virtually every professional organization agrees with the American Psychological Association when they say “efforts to change sexual orientation are unlikely to be successful and involve some risk of harm, contrary to the claims of SOCE practitioners and advocates,” high school students in the Montgomery County Public Schools in Maryland were given information from the group Parents and Friends of Ex-Gays and Gays last week, claiming that sexual orientation is merely a choice. And a bad one at that.
Although the group claims that “every year thousands of people with unwanted same-sex attractions make the personal decision to leave a gay identity,” the experts say differently. Even the school district doesn’t agree with the fliers, so why would they pass them out? According to Patricia O’Neill, president of the Montgomery County Board of Education, “these fliers are probably counter to what is available in our health curriculum, but that curriculum focuses on respect, and we respect freedom of speech.”
That’s the thing — if the school is going to allow after school clubs, community organizations, or other non-profits to send home information along with schoolwork, then all non-profits have to be allowed to do so, no matter how much everyone disagrees with them. I’m reminded of the wonderful scene in the original Blues Brothers movie when the Jake and Elwood encounter a traffic jam caused by the Illinois Nazis who “won their court case.” While I don’t recommend running these guys off the road as was done in the movie, I think it would be wonderful if the schools’ Gay-Straight Alliance clubs distributed fliers that offered more accurate and positive information.
But, some might argue, can’t groups be excluded for disseminating harmful or just plain wrong information? The problem with that is in determining what that includes. If humans were able to agree on that, we wouldn’t have the problem in the first place. That’s why, as much as I don’t like it and don’t want my kids to receive something like that, I — and the courts — think you have to allow it.