Monday, May 9, 2005

The 6 million-member National Parent-Teacher Association has agreed for a second year to feature a pro-homosexual group at its annual convention, while rejecting a group that says homosexuality is not an inborn trait.

The National PTA, representing 26,000 local affiliates, solicited a workshop and exhibit by Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG) for public school action against anti-homosexual beliefs at the PTA’s convention next month, Ron Schlittler, PFLAG executive director, told The Washington Times.

But another group, Parents and Friends of Ex-Gays and Gays (PFOX) of Alexandria, was rejected as an exhibitor at the June 24-26 convention in Columbus, Ohio, because the PTA and its members “have not identified homosexuality or same-sex marriage as an issue,” according to Jennifer Gaster Sopko, National PTA spokeswoman in Chicago.

Mrs. Sopko declined to explain the participation of PFLAG.

Mr. Schlittler said the National PTA solicited PFLAG’s involvement last year at its convention in Anaheim, Calif., because of the group’s campaign to ?end rampant anti-gay bullying? in schools.

He said PFLAG’s application was initially rejected, but Warlene Gary, then the National PTA’s chief executive officer, reinstated the group’s workshop and exhibit table after he and other activists planned an all-day ?teach-in? during the convention at a hotel across the street.

Miss Gary was previously the National Education Association’s human and civil rights director and the school union’s liaison to homosexual interest groups.

“This year, we received an invitation to apply again,” Mr. Schlittler said. ?We’re doing the entire full-on, everything.”

He commended the PTA’s rejection of PFOX, which wants public schools to present sexual-orientation issues neutrally, portraying homosexuality as an acquired behavior, without projecting a civil rights claim for self-identified homosexuals. Mr. Schlittler said PFOX supports reparative therapy, which aims to help persons avoid homosexual behavior.

“The whole reparative-therapy industry is selling snake oil,” PFLAG’s executive director said. “From my point of view, the PTA has no business providing a forum that presents as of equal merit that position. It’s unethical, frankly, [as if] you can force a left-handed person to behave as a right-handed person. Our beliefs are superior.”

Regina Griggs, PFOX executive director, said her group “does not argue reparative therapy.”

“Ex-gays already exist, so there is nothing to argue about,” she said.

She said, “All individuals with unwanted same-sex attractions deserve the right to self-determination and happiness based on their own needs, and not the needs of others.”

Last week, PFOX won a decision as plaintiff in a federal lawsuit that argued religious discrimination in a sex-education program in Montgomery County, Md., public schools. U.S. District Judge Alexander Williams Jr. halted the curriculum on grounds it promoted one religious perspective regarding sexuality over other views.

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