Montgomery County, MD: PFOX is not an alternative, it is part of the problem

Parents and Friends of Ex-Gays has been getting push back over the ex-gay pamphlets sent home with students recently in Montgomery County, MD. Earlier today, Peter Sprigg, who is on the board of PFOX and works for the Family Research Council wrote the Washington Post to criticize a Post article for calling homosexuality “innate.” Mr. Sprigg:

The March 6 article “Schools review policy on fliers” repeated as fact what are actually mere opinions of those critical of the flier distributed in Montgomery County high schools by Parents and Friends of Ex-gays and Gays (PFOX).In particular, the statement, “mainstream medical and mental-health associations say that homosexuality is innate” was unsubstantiated. Here is what the American Psychological Assocation says about the origins of sexual orientation:“Although much research has examined the possible genetic, hormonal, developmental, social, and cultural influences on sexual orientation, no findings have emerged that permit scientists to conclude that sexual orientation is determined by any particular factor or factors.”The statement in the Montgomery County Public Schools curriculum that homosexuality is “innate” was added by the Board of Education; it was was not recommended by MCPS staff. In other words, it is a political statement, not a scientific one. This simply illustrates why students in Montgomery County need access to alternative sources of information about the choices they have in responding to same-sex attractions — alternatives like those offered by PFOX.

Peter Sprigg, Germantown

The author is a member of the PFOX board. He served on the MCPS Citizens Advisory Committee for Family Life and Human Development from 2005 to 2011.

Although the APA has also reviewed evidence regarding reparative drive theory in 2009 and found it wanting, Sprigg is partly correct that APA has not taken a definitive stance on the origins of sexual orientation.

However, calling orientation innate is not the same thing as saying that sexual orientation derives from pre-natal factors. There is evidence for the innateness of sexual orientation without regard to origins.

What is also troubling about Sprigg’s letter is that he offers an organization as an alternative that does what he accuses the Montgomery Board and the Post of doing – making political statements in place of scientific ones. PFOX has no interest in all of the evidence regarding sexual orientation. Instead, they promote reparative therapy, with the dubious view that parenting and sexual abuse causes sexual orientation. The one PFOX conference I attended several years ago was a sad affair for a group of parents I spoke with after the sessions. Why? Richard Cohen had just finished telling them that lack of love was the culprit behind the gayness of their kids.

As I write this, PFOX is just one of the organizations along with FRC that continues to mislead their constituents regarding current information regarding sexual orientation. They blast those who say that homosexuality is innate or may be a response to pre-natal factors while at the same time promoting bad parenting and trauma as causal factors. If the origins are so unknown, then why does PFOX promote reparative drive theory and therapy?

Montgomery County may still be in an ideological war over the factors which cause sexual orientation to take the direction it does, but an answer to that problem is not more “information” from PFOX.