Target: Maryland’s Prince George’s County Public Schools
Goal: Condemn use of videos promoting ex-gay therapy in Maryland’s middle school health classes.
Maryland’s Prince George’s County Public School (PGCPS) system recently introduced videos into 7th grade health classes that promote therapy to cure homosexuality. The videos are described as anti-bullying but offer students advice on how to use therapy to overcome same-sex attraction.
The short film, called “Acception,” begins by exploring bullying gay youngsters face from friends and family members. The video then transitions to a discussion about a young woman who used therapy to become attracted to men. The video contains an interview with a woman who describes the depression and anxiety she felt while coming to terms with her homosexuality. She suggests that she only found peace when her family forced her to go to therapy. The therapy essentially “cured” her homosexuality, allowed her to be attracted to men, and gave her the acceptance she desired from her family.
The PGCPS system seems to find nothing alarming about the messages sent to students by this film. The district’s retired health education supervisor stated that she felt “badly” that the use of the video was being criticized, as students deserved to be aware of ex-gay therapy. The video was removed from some classes only due to its intense focus on “alternative lifestyles,” not for the damaging ideology it intends to advance.
All major medical organizations have condemned ex-gay therapy as a useless (at best) and dangerous (at worst) practice. Ex-gay therapy encourages people to reject themselves, to feel ashamed of their sexual identities, and to believe there is something inherently wrong with them. Instead of supporting its students and offering them positive education regarding sexual identity, Maryland’s PGCPS system intends to shame and demean gay students, and promote the idea that homosexuality is outlandish and wrong amongst straight students. Endorsing such narrow-minded thought goes against everything education stands for. Condemn Maryland’s Prince George’s County Public Schools for the use of these videos, and demand they offer students positive education about all sexual identities.
Dear Maryland’s Prince George’s County Public Schools,
Recently, your school system introduced a video into middle school health classes that focuses on ex-gay therapy as an option for gay youngsters. The video, disguised as an anti-bullying film, suggests to students that homosexuality is a form of mental illness that can be “cured” through the use of therapy. All major medical organizations consider ex-gay therapy a dangerous form of quackery, one which encourages young people to reject themselves and their identities, and change themselves in ways that are impossible.
I am writing to condemn Maryland’s PGCPS system for allowing such discouraging and demanding messages to be delivered to students. The video’s only purpose is to shame and demean gay students, while promoting the idea that homosexuality is outlandish and wrong amongst straight students. Messages such as the one offered in “Acception,” destroy self-esteem and encourage bullying and other oppressive behaviors. I demand that PGCPS take immediate steps to install positive educational material in middle school health classrooms focusing on the validity of all sexual identities.
[Your Name Here]
Photo Credit: Fox Valley Institute via Flickr