- The Washington Times - Monday, June 27, 2005

COLUMBUS, Ohio — Signs for Parents and Friends of Ex-Gays and Gays, which encourages homosexuals to reform their behavior, were removed from a hotel at the National PTA convention under pressure from homosexual advocacy groups, the reform group says.

Managers of the Hyatt Regency Columbus took down the signs posted outside the hotel conference room rented by the parents’ organization as part of its participation in workshops on diversity.

The 1,500 PTA delegates were feted Saturday afternoon by the annual Columbus Gay Pride Parade, with dozens of rainbow-draped cars and decorated floats passing the downtown convention center on High Street during a workshop break.

The Hyatt’s senior catering manager, Theresa A. Mullins, dispatched a uniformed hotel security guard to order removal of two signs outside the rented conference room that questioned the PTA’s exclusion of the group from the convention exhibit hall and three-day workshop program, which ended yesterday.

Hotel sources and convention delegates said Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays complained about the signs across the hall from a banquet room where the PTA state presidents’ luncheon was held Friday and insisted they be removed.

One sign urged PTA delegates to ask why the support group for reformed homosexuals was barred from exhibiting along with other parents’ groups in the convention hall. The other sign called for “respect and the facts.”

National PTA and staff rejected the reform group’s application to participate in the convention, so it paid for its second-floor conference room in the Hyatt, adjoining the convention center, for a three-day teach-in on its view that homosexuality is a personal lifestyle choice and not an inborn genetic trait.

“The two signs outside your room have a definate [sic] taunting message to some of the other guests in the hotel,” Ms. Mullins wrote in memo to the reform group. A PTA spokesman denied any role in the hotel’s decision.

A Saturday workshop on building PTA membership was titled “Growing and Thriving With Diversity and Inclusion.” Narmen Fennoy-Hunter said the PTA must be “more open to anyone and everyone” and must foster “more open, honest discussions” of issue, “be open to differences, walk the talk.”

The main convention business was to adopt a resolution against the “pervasive problem of bullying” in the nation’s schools.

State Rep. Diana Fessler, a Republican who attended workshop sessions, deplored the exclusion of the parents’ reform group. “The PTA has its position of power to bully a minority group,” she said. “They’re certainly not practicing what they preach when it comes to inclusion.”

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