Friday, June 24, 2005

COLUMBUS, Ohio — The National PTA has angered a support group for former homosexuals by rejecting them as a workshop presenter at its annual meeting that convened yesterday, while allowing a homosexual advocacy group to participate.

A major theme of this year’s PTA meeting is anti-bullying and both the homosexual advocacy group Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG) and the rejected group, Parents and Friends of Ex-Gays and Gays (PFOX) have programs on the topic.

After being rejected, PFOX rented hotel space adjacent to the convention and announced it will conduct a teach-in to voice its message to an expected 1,700 PTA delegates about anti-bullying and that ex-homosexuals exist and homosexuality is not a genetic inborn trait, said PFOX founder Regina Griggs.

On Wednesday, PTA official Warlene Gary rejected an appeal from PFOX to have equal exhibitor status with PFLAG, which opposes the ex-homosexual message and favors same-sex “marriage,” Mrs. Griggs said.

The National PTA invited PFLAG last year as an exhibitor and workshop presenter against bullying in schools at its convention in Anaheim, Calif.

“This year, we received an invitation to apply again,” said PFLAG Executive Director Ron Schlitter. “We’re doing the entire full-on, everything” to promote tolerance for the homosexual lifestyle.

Mrs. Griggs accused PTA officials of discrimination.

“PFLAG promotes a pro-gay agenda; they say on their Web site that ex-gays don’t exist,” she said.

National PTA officials did not respond to numerous inquiries about their decision to reject PFOX, which was successful recently in having Montgomery County, Md., public schools withdraw a disputed sex education program.

Speaking in general terms, PTA spokeswoman Jennifer Gaster Sopko did say that “convention programming is evaluated on an individual basis and accepted on merit.”

Today’s keynote speaker at the PTA meeting, Education Secretary Margaret Spellings, criticized the Public Broadcast Service earlier this year for celebrating lesbian couples in a segment of its “Postcards From Buster” children’s television program that is broadcast to schools.

Mrs. Spellings asked PBS to return federal funds used to produce the program under a $99.7 million department literacy grant.

PFLAG’s workshop at the convention tomorrow is titled “Making School Safe for All Students.” Officials said it is designed to promote “diversity, membership and wellness.”

According to the program, the workshop “raises awareness about lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) students, their families, and the issues pertaining to them in the school environment.”

Participants are expected to receive a free CD containing PFLAG’s safe-schools manual and a “how-to” guide “for improving the school environment for LGBT students and for reducing bullying in the school in general.”

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