Superintendent Joshua Starr told a group of high school students Tuesday that he found the actions of a nonprofit group that sent fliers home describing how gay people can change their orientation to be “reprehensible and deplorable.”
The fliers from Parents and Friends of Ex-Gays and Gays went home with report cards at several county high schools last week.
During a televised town hall meeting at Wootton High School organized to introduce the first-year superintendent to students, two teens asked what he thought — or planned to do — about the fliers, which contradict the county’s sex education curriculum describing homosexuality as innate.
“My job is to protect the safety and well being of our students,” Starr said, explaining that PFOX’s message could cause harm. “We are trying to figure out what we can do within a tight legal box,” he said.
Any non-profit organization is allowed to send fliers out to students four times a year, unless it’s considered hate speech, a right that was upheld in a court case several years ago. Starr could not ban the PFOX fliers unless he banned all fliers, something he said the school system is considering.
American Medical Association policies officially “oppose the use of “reparative” or “conversion” therapy that is based upon the assumption that homosexuality per se is a mental disorder or based upon the a prior assumption that the patient should change his/her homosexual orientation.”
Starr also fielded questions from the teens about whether he planned to cut arts funding (No), what he thought about paying students for good grades (Not a great idea), and whether he thought the school should reduce the number of essays that freshmen have to write (Sorry, No. “I actually don’t think we write enough,” he said.)
A video of the full event is available on the MCPS Web site.