|Back to August Ed Reporter|
|NUMBER 198||THE NEWSPAPER OF EDUCATION RIGHTS||AUGUST 2002|
'Diversity' Doesn't Include PFOX|
Ex-gay group files sexual orientation complaint
WASHINGTON, DC - Parents and Friends Of Ex-gays (PFOX) has filed a sexual orientation discrimination complaint with the District of Columbia's Office of Human Rights against the NEA for its refusal to lease the group an exhibit booth at the union's annual convention in Dallas. PFOX is a nonprofit Christian group that assists individuals attempting to leave the homosexual lifestyle and supports families affected by homosexuality.
Each year, the NEA allows a variety of organizations and vendors to exhibit their materials and wares at its convention, including pro-gay groups. PFOX applied to the union last March for an exhibit booth. Two months after cashing its deposit check, NEA Conference Coordinator Thomasine Williams sent PFOX a letter (dated June 10) denying permission for the booth and claiming that exhibit space was "completely sold out." An anonymous June 7 call by PFOX to CEPI Inc., NEA's outside contractor for exhibit booths, revealed that two booths were in fact still available and that additional space was expected due to last-minute cancellations.
"NEA rejected our application on the basis of sexual orientation discrimination, but is hiding behind a 'sorry, all sold out' excuse," PFOX spokeswoman Regina Griggs stated. "It seems the NEA has violated its own resolutions against sexual orientation discrimination."
At a press conference during the convention, a reporter asked outgoing NEA President Bob Chase why PFOX had been denied a booth to distribute materials that promote equal opportunity and an inclusive environment for ex-gays. Chase responded that the NEA is "a private organization and can deny whomever we choose."
This reporter stated that the NEA has created a "standing committee" on sexual orientation, which "etches in stone" the union's support and promotion of pro-gay instruction incorporated into all public school curricula and activities.
New Business Item (NBI) 62 introduced at this year's convention urged that all NEA and Health Information Network (HIN) publications related to gay/lesbian/bisexual/transgender issues "consider the needs and problems of ex-gays and those with unwanted same-sex attraction in providing information and listing resources such as the National Association for Research and Therapy of Homosexuality, Exodus International, Living Waters, Parents and Friends Of Ex-gays, and others. The NEA will provide equal opportunity and an inclusive environment for ex-gays and those with unwanted same-sex attraction." The rationale given for NBI 62 was that the "NEA's diversity policies don't protect inalienable rights (pursuit of happiness) for those with unwanted same-sex attraction."
The convention voted not to consider NBI 62. The NEA's pro-gay resolutions support homosexuality as both normal and unchangeable, and its publication called Just the Facts About Sexual Orientation and Youth states that "reparative therapy" and "transformational" ministries provide "'treatments' that may cause harm." Just the Facts suggests that the efforts of such groups "in a school-related context could raise constitutional problems" regarding the separation of church and state.