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Posted at 12:09 PM ET, 02/06/2012

Fliers sent home with MCPS students say gay people can change; A different message is taught at school

A controversial group that contends homosexuality can be cured through therapy or self-determination sent fliers home to parents at Albert Einstein High School and a few other high schools in Montgomery County last week.

The fliers were from Parents and Friends of Ex-Gays and Gays, and said: “According to mainstream psychological associations, there are no replicated scientific studies to support that a person can be born “gay.” No “gay gene” or gay center of the brain has been found. No medical test exists to determine if a person is homosexual. Sexual orientation is based on feelings and is a matter of self-affirmation and public declarations.”

Their message is controversial because much of the scientific community — and the school system — disagree.

As the U.S. Attorney General wrote last February in a letter to Congress: “While sexual orientation carries no visible badge, a growing scientific consensus accepts that sexual orientation is a characteristic that is immutable.”

Montgomery County’s revised sex education curriculum, which went into effect in 2007, describes homosexuality as innate.

PFOX members were among those who protested the changes during several years of public debate and legal challenges.

While many school systems still officially avoid the topic of homosexuality in health classes or elsewhere in the curriculum, it’s becoming a harder topic to avoid in school. There are a growing number of bullying prevention programs and Gay-Straight Alliances that emphasize acceptance and tolerance — not change — as a solution.

I wrote a story this weekend about a few school systems — including the District of Columbia — that are beginning to teach lessons about gay tolerance starting in elementary school.

Dana Tofig said that even though the superintendent himself disagrees with the message of PFOX, nonprofit groups such as PFOX have a legal right to send home fliers.

The flier includes a disclaimer: These materials are neither sponsored nor endorsed by the Board of Education of Montgomery County, the superintendent, or this school.

Regina Griggs, executive director of PFOX, which is based in Reedville, Va, said that fliers also are sent home with students in Fairfax, Arlington and other school districts. The group plans to send home a flier with every high school student in Montgomery County at some point during the school year.

By  |  12:09 PM ET, 02/06/2012

 
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