The organization Parents and Friends of ExGays and Gays (PFOX) has been all up in arms lately over the situation in Montgomery County Public Schools regarding the school districts anger about the distribution of PFOX flyers promoting “ex-gay” therapy. According to an editorial published in the Washington Times by Peter Sprigg, the controversy over the flyers promoting the idea that “change is possible”, is nothing more than discrimination and intolerance. In fact, according to Sprigg the issue is,
“The message that “change is possible” with respect to sexual orientation means just that. It does not mean change is mandatory; it does not mean change is easy; it does not even mean change is desirable for those who do not desire it. It also does not mean that people “choose” to experience same-sex attractions. However, people do have a choice what to do with those attractions - whether to engage in homosexual conduct, whether to self-identify as “gay” and, yes, whether to seek help to change those attractions.”
First of all, a point of clarification. As an “ex-gay” who has walked “out of homosexuality” does that not mean that one is heterosexual? Therefore, why is the name “ex-gay” needed if not to make a political point against the LGBT equality movement. (if one takes a cursory look at their blog, it can be seen that they do not promote tolerance of LGBT people, but instead advocate for governmental suppression of LGBT people). But, that is not the real issue behind why the school district was correct in deeming the flyers as “reprehensible”.
It must be realized that the ex-gay ideology that is propagated by PFOX is not innocent. That is not meaning that adults should not be allowed to make the decision (even if such a decision is to their psychological detriment) to attempt to “flee homosexuality”. Us who have gone through these “ex-gay” organizations know full well that they do not work, but hey, if you want to spend thousands upon thousands of dollars to attempt to change ones natural sexual orientation, be my guest. But the real issue with “ex-gay” ideology is that it does not exist within a vacuum.
Sprigg attempts to paint the picture that everyone has the ability to make a rational decision with what to do about their sexuality. But such a belief does not take into account the outside factors that go into ones decision making calculus. If one is told that being gay is inherently sinful, one is more likely to attempt to change. If one is given the ultimatum of accepting your sexuality or keeping your relationship with your family, one is more likely to choose the latter. If one is faced with the reality of living in a culture which demeans and persecutes LGBT people, one is inclined to try to adapt to that culture instead of embracing your biological identity.
All of these factors are negatives associated with a homosexual orientation. They automatically put an impetus upon LGBT people that in order to be “normal” they must change. Such a starting point in addressing ones orientation is not healthy nor does it allow one to engage in a rational thought calculus regarding how one truly feels. That is why it is extremely difficult to come out, because by coming out, we are fighting against these negative factors that many of us have to deal with on a day to day basis.
Though Sprigg may like to think that by advocating for “ex-gay” therapy, he is advocating for the ability to make a choice on which “identity” one follows, it is nothing more than an attempt to further reinforce the negative factors that LGBT people are faced with on a daily basis.