Flier About 'Ex-Gays' Ignites Firestorm At School

NBC4 Broadcasting, November 11, 2006

SILVER SPRING, Md. -- A flier from a group called Parents and Friends of Ex-Gays and Gays, or PFOX, has started a controversy in Silver Spring.

The flier was handed out during homeroom to students at Montgomery Blair High School.

News4's Miguel Almaguer reported that gay students at the high school said the group behind it is homophobic.

The school said it had no choice but to pass it out.

PFOX says it reaches out to gay teens offering unconditional love and support to homosexuals who want to become straight.

Promoting a way out of a gay lifestyle, the nonprofit group offers to expose teenagers to "ex-gay" people.

"What we're saying is that, if you have unwanted same-sex attraction -- and there is a difference -- then there are alternatives, and homosexual feelings can be overcome," said Regina Griggs of PFOX.

The one-page handout taken home by hundreds and thrown out by others created a firestorm on campus.

Administrators, faculty and students quickly blasted the group as an anti-gay, homophobic organization.

PFOX claims it's a resource for students.

Avi Edelman, president of the Gay Straight Student Alliance, said that message is a sham.

"If you look at their Web site, if you look at their use of religious materials to condemn homosexuality, I think the message that they say they give and the message that they show on that flyer is very different than what the organization actually stands for," Edelman said.

Targeting gays with hard-to-miss billboards, groups like PFOX weren't always allowed inside schools. But when it sued to pass out literature, it won.

Now, policy and the law allow the group to reach students through school.

But school leaders fear the decision will open the floodgates for discriminatory groups.

"This demonstrates how groups can get their message out throught his way, and I think it's just the beginning," said Montgomery Blair High School principal Phil Gainous.

PFOX said -- like the group or not -- it will continue exercising the law and passing out literature at schools throughout Montgomery County.

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