Last month, a group that calls themselves Parents and Friends of Ex-Gays and Gays (PFOX) distributed hundreds of fliers like the one to the left in several Maryland high schools.
Despite the protests of several parents and students, school administrators hands are tied thanks to a state-wide policy allowing nonprofit organizations to distribute printed materials to Maryland students along with their report cards. To preserve freedom of speech, any materials not deemed “hate speech” must be allowed.
The statement on the inside of the flyer is infuriatingly vague: “Every year thousands of people with unwanted same-sex attractions make the personal decision to leave a gay identity,” it reads.
Ignoring that the general consensus among doctors and psychologists that conversion therapy generally fails and can be extremely harmful to the patient, the assumption at the core of this statement is the age-old implication that sexual orientation is a matter of choice. Even more disturbing is the implication that those who are “afflicted” with the disease of same-sex attraction are sick and must be cured. Haven’t we all heard this shtick before?
Reading David Eisenbach’s fantastic history of the gay-rights movement, Gay Power, I can’t help but notice that this line of argument has been lifted directly from the mainstream anti-gay rhetoric of the 1950s and 60s, when the psychiatric community considered homosexuality a mental illness.
So thanks, PFOX, for reminding us that even in America in 2010, there are still those who would push gays back into the closet.
– Edward Ebbert