Gay-rights groups launched a flier assault Wednesday morning to counter what many educators and advocates called an anti-gay message that was sent home with high school students in February.
Parents and Friends of Ex-Gays and Gays, a Virginia-based group, distributed fliers to five high schools in February with the message that homosexuality is not innate and gay people can change their identities.
Many students, and educators, including superintendent Joshua Starr, protested the message, calling it intolerant or potentially damaging to gay students. The school board decided this spring to reconsider its flier distribution policy, which currently allows any non-profit to send home leaflets at certain points throughout the year.
And now Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays, along with the Southern Poverty Law Center and the Equality Maryland Foundation have responded with their own fliers.
By Wednesday morning, they had delivered 50,000 fliers to all 25 high schools in the country to be distributed this week. The goal is to “counter misinformation” spread by the PFOX fliers, a press release said.
The two-sided flier includes a message from PFLAG on one side that sexual orientation is not a choice and that mainstream medical and mental health professional organizations agree that “there is nothing wrong with you” if you are gay.
“Individuals do not choose to be homosexual or heterosexual, nor is it something ‘that voluntarily can be changed,’” the flier says.
On the other side, the Southern Poverty Law Center challenges ex-gay therapies as ineffective and potentially harmful because they “present views of homosexuality that may reinforce self-hatred caused by societal prejudice.”
The flier campaign cost about $3,000, which was split between the organizations, said David S. Fishback of PFLAG.
PFOX has been distributing fliers in Montgomery schools for several years. Fishback said this is not the first time PFLAG has responded with its own fliers.