Friday, September 15, 2006

PTA nixs PFOX, boosts PFLAG

Struggling Gays & Lesbians Welcomed; PFOX Reaches Out
Ed Vitagliano

Homosexuality is a flashpoint in the culture wars, but that lifestyle is more than simply a political issue for gays and lesbians who struggle with it. For those who want to change, there are a number of organizations which are willing to help them find freedom.

Parents and Friends of Ex-Gays and Gays (PFOX) is one of them. It was founded in 1998 by families who had homosexual children, and by friends of the ex-gay community.

"PFOX was started because there were no organizations supporting parents in loving their homosexual children unconditionally," said Regina Griggs, executive director of PFOX, in an interview with AFA Journal. At the time, she added, the secular-minded organizations dealing with homosexuality insisted "that parents love their children only if they affirm the child's homosexual behavior."

But Griggs said PFOX takes a different approach, because it "believes that parents can love their children unconditionally and without any stipulations." That principle allows parents to love their children without surrendering parental beliefs about homosexuality itself.

The Ex-'Gay' Lifestyle

One of those core beliefs is that same-sex attraction is not immutable. While parents and friends can -- and must -- still love the homosexual, there is an open door of hope for those who want to change. That view, however, sticks in the craw of homosexual advocates, who believe that gays and lesbians have no choice in the matter of sexual orientation. It is the way they were born, activists insist, and it is best to accept that reality.

As it turns out, that's not the reality for everyone. "Each year men and women with same-sex attractions make the personal decision to leave homosexuality," Griggs said.

Of course, the existence of ex-gays has become quite problematic for the homosexual community. The presence of men and women who once claimed to be homosexual, but who now say they have left the lifestyle for good, undercuts the agenda of activists.

Ironically, while the heart of the gay agenda is the demand for respect from society when gays and lesbians "come out of the closet" and declare their homosexual orientation, activists seem to forget about respect when it comes to ex-gays. Homosexuals "refuse to respect that decision .... Consequently, formerly gay men and women are reviled simply because they dare to exist," Griggs said. "Ex-gays are not respected or protected from harassment, and are in need of our support ...."

Moreover, she said, homosexual activists and those who are sympathetic to that community are vigorous in their attempts to squelch the ex-gay message. They "attempt to prevent Americans, including our children, from hearing the message that unwanted same-sex attractions can be overcome," Griggs said.

That is especially true in public schools, according to Griggs. "In too many schools, the ex-gay viewpoint is censored or marginalized," she said, adding that many educators act "to exclude some views merely because they disagree with them."

For example, a copy of the PFOX brochure "Preventing Bullying At Your School: Safe Schools for Everyone!" urges schools to act swiftly and firmly to prevent the bullying of students. "School safety" is one of the homosexual community's major rallying cries when they demand that public schools teach children to respect gay and lesbian students.

But the PFOX brochure takes a slightly different approach to the bullying issue. The group argues that schools should not promote homosexuality in order to make schools safer for homosexual students. Rather, PFOX urges school officials to simply develop a zero-tolerance policy against bullying all kids for any reason.

Moreover, PFOX asks schools to make students aware that leaving the gay lifestyle is possible, and students who are trying to do that -- or who have done so -- should also be respected.

Snubbed By the PTA?

Not everyone is thrilled with that approach. A case in point appears to be the National Parent Teacher Association (PTA), with whom PFOX has had a conflict for the last three years. That's how many times PFOX has been turned down in its request for a booth at the PTA's annual convention. PFOX wanted to set up a display in order to offer to delegates its anti-bullying brochure. The PTA flatly refused to allow it.

In a letter to National PTA President Ann Marie Weselak, Griggs complained that not only did the PTA reject PFOX's application, but it had also "failed to respond to our repeated requests as to specifically what the exhibits committee read in our anti-bullying brochure that led to its rejection as exhibit booth material."

On the other hand, during those three annual conventions, PTA allowed a homosexual group -- Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG) -- not only to have a booth in order to distribute materials, but also to present a workshop to PTA attendees.

Following the PTA-PFOX dust-up concerning the 2005 convention, AFA Journal interviewed Weselak to allow her to explain PTA's position. She said PFLAG was only present "to help educate and inform parents on the topic of bullying in order to help make their children more safe in schools. And that's what their invitation was based upon."

However, psychology professor Dr. Warren Throckmorton, director of the college counseling service at Grove City College in Pennsylvania and a spokesman for PFOX, said Weselak's explanation wasn't the whole story. "In fact, [PFLAG] had an article that was distributed to all the attendees criticizing my work in sexual identity therapy [that helps homosexuals leave that lifestyle]," he said. "Now what does that have to do with bullying?"

Furthermore, he said, PFLAG used its workshop in 2005 to stress the need to raise more "gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender" issues in the shaping of public school policies and curricula. Once again, Throckmorton noted, such matters fall far outside a simple message about bullying.

What also troubles PFOX officials is the fact that PFLAG is a political advocacy group that promotes homosexual political causes like same-sex "marriage," hate-crime laws, and homosexual adoption. Griggs, for example, believes that giving PFLAG a forum at the PTA convention is nothing short of an implicit endorsement of the homosexual advocacy group's radical agenda.

Weselak disagreed with that assessment in her interview with AFA Journal, insisting that PFLAG was invited only because of its anti-bullying stance. "What their other platforms are, what their other works are in their organization is not what the invitation ... was about," she said.

Throckmorton doesn't buy that explanation. He said it is "kind of insulting to the intelligence of those conservative members for [the PTA] to say it's not going to support any political perspective -- but then to turn around and basically give a group an opportunity to do just that" at their convention.

AFA Journal contacted the PTA for their response to PFOX's complaint about once again being refused exhibit space at the 2006 PTA convention. However, PTA officials did not return phone call requests for an interview.

© 2006 AgapePress all rights reserved.

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