If you oppose the message contained in the PFOX fliers distributed in Montgomery County Schools, please speak up. Take action to strengthen the Health Education curriculum in Montgomery County Schools.
In 2007, MCPS implemented for its 8th and 10th Grade Health Education Curriculum a unit entitled Respecting Differences in Human Sexuality. The curriculum does a good job in introducing issues surrounding sexual orientation and identity, albeit in a strictly scripted manner.
Currently, however, the curriculum says nothing about so-called “reparative” or “conversion” therapies. And our health teachers may not discuss the canard that being gay is a sickness, unless students ask about it. The strictly scripted curriculum provides this instruction to teachers: “If students ask, ‘Is homosexuality an illness?’ say, ‘No. The American Psychiatric Association does not include homosexuality in its listing of psychiatric or mental disorders.’” But if students are too afraid or embarrassed to ask, then the subject may not be discussed.
The absence of this information was once again brought to light in some of our high schools by the recent distribution of flyers from Parents and Families of Ex-Gays (PFOX). See the FOX 5 report or the MetroWeekly story regarding the flier distribution.
PFOX is an organization that urges people to seek therapies to change their sexual orientation – therapies which have been condemned by every mainstream American medical and mental health professional association, including the American Medical Association. PFOX contributes to misconceptions about sexual orientation that can lead to bullying.
In September 2010, advisors from the Maryland Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) wrote to the Montgomery County Board of Education and former Superintendent Weast urging the inclusion of information on these and related topics. Last April, The Board of Education’s Citizens Advisory Committee on Family Life and Human Development urged MCPS to follow the AAP’s advice. Here are the two most significant recommendations for inclusion in what should be taught:
- Homosexuality is not a disease or a mental illness, and
- Sexual orientation is not a choice and the American Medical Association opposes ‘therapies’ that seek to change sexual orientation that are premised on the assumption that people should change their sexual orientation.
Please urge MCPS to follow the counsel of its AAP advisors and its Citizens Advisory Committee and include vital information in the curriculum for the benefit of all of our students, both gay and straight. You can contact the Board of Education at firstname.lastname@example.org and Superintendent Joshua Starr at Joshua_Starr@mcpsmd.org
For more information, contact Metro DC PFLAG Advocacy Chair David Fishback at email@example.com.
You can also download MetroDC PFLAG’s Response to PFOX Fliers from our website.