Alex Blaze

Virginia school board loses its mind

Filed By Alex Blaze | August 07, 2007 4:30 PM | comments

Filed in: Living
Tags: ex-gay, PFOX, schools, Virginia

From 365gay:

The School board in Arlington County, Virginia has agreed to allow a so-called ex-gay group to post material for high school students claiming homosexuality can be reversed.

It will, however be left to individual schools to accept the material if they have areas where other groups can post fliers.[...]

The organization went to court claiming the school district had discriminated against it by refusing to distribute flyers. Arlington County Schools said it had a policy of turning down the distribution of material in high schools from all groups, although the policy was not in writing.

Can I be the first to say that this decision is just wrong? That "freedom of speech" does and should have limits, and any of those limits would exclude PFOX?

Y'all are probably familiar with the basic ex-gay message: queers are all unhappy, all deviating from their true heterosexual selves, and with the proper therapy (which they never, ever specify) a person can change his or her sexuality. The basic point of this is to further discrimination against queer people by delegitimizing sexual autonomy.

So what's a message like that doing in school? Well, it seems like the Arlington County school board has the misguided notion that they have to and should allow all viewpoints into the school:

The school system said that it is not making a judgment on the message contained in the PFOX material.

Well, it should start. The message goes against what schools should be teaching regarding science and citizenship, considering that every legitimate psychological and medical body has rejected the ex-gay message and that such a message only helps to breed intolerance. Would the school allow students to be taught that the Earth is flat? It's another opinion on that topic, I suppose, but it doesn't help anyone to learn it. What about teaching them that Jews are inferior to Christians? It's an opinion that a lot of people believe in, but that doesn't mean that schools should be teaching it.

Schools are always making judgments on the content of documents like, oh, tests and papers and projects. Hell, what's to stop a student from claiming now that a test full of wrong answers can't be judged based on content and that she shouldn't be punished with a bad grade over her opinions expressed in that test? That makes about as much sense as publishing ex-gay material in schools.

Of course, the people who will be most directly hurt by this are the queer children. Sure, you, me, and most people reading this site can surf through or the PFOX webpage or Dobson's pronouncements that looking at enough cock will turn boys straight and have a good laugh, but PFOX is looking to target children as young as 11. At that age they're not going to sit around and laugh at their claims to heterosexuality that always exclude the "sexuality" part, be able to call out the paternalistic, unscientific, and discriminatory subtext, or even make fun of the lame stock photos that always seems to go with these flyers. They're going to begin a process of self-hatred, of trying to change who they are, of thinking that it's their fault that they love a different way than most people do. And in that way, they'll be more complicit with discrimination against them later on in life.

Of course, that's the whole point of the PFOX message. I just can't believe that a school board bought into it.

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beergoggles | August 7, 2007 5:15 PM

I think the appropriate response is to demand to hand out flyers that state that all heterosexuals are miserable citing twisted statistics, and can be coverted to happy homosexuals and that they just haven't met the right man/woman yet.

Once the school board rejects that, sue 'em.

I'm thinking I'm with you on this one, BG. We should start a "parents and friends of ex-heterosexuals". It wouldn't be too hard to find stories of miserable hets - we can start with my extended family (haw haw).

It's tough for the school districts when lawsuits are filed.

If they're already serving as a conduit for fliers from church youth groups, the Boy Scouts, or anyone else with an ideological perspective with a limited target audience, PFOX is just one more.

Seems to me the schools should at least be able to require that fliers be sponsored by someone with an authentic connection to the school. And, fliers should relate to actual events taking place in the community, not just proseletizing. PFOX would like nothing less than an opportunity to blanket every school with fliers even though they are a small fringe of the ex-gay fringe, and those limitations would hit them hard.

The obvious question, also, is whether it makes sense for schools to offer their services as PR conduits for any religious or ideologically-based group.

As far as showing how miserable and dysfunctional heteros are one need only point to divorce and domestic abuse statistics...

I gave a speech once in a class in which I asked people (presumably str8) some of the same ludicrous questions they ask us:
"Does your mother know you're str8?"
To a female: "Does your roommate know that you like boys?"
To a couple: "Which one of you is the girl?"
I closed by telling them: "I really don't care what you do in PRIVATE. I just wish you all wouldn't flaunt your lifestyle in public." One woman responded that she & her husband never engaged in public displays of affection. I said: "Check your left hand, third finger-- a blatant public symbol of YOUR LIFESTYLE."

People in the class all said they learned a lot about the ridiculousness of the assumptions they had made of GLBT folk once the tables were turned. I do this with heteros on a regular basis *evil grin*

Perhaps we should add these questions to the "ex-hetero" flyer....