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Top Stories This Week in the Chronicle.
July 1, 2005

'Ex-gay' group is ignored at national PTA convention

P-FLAG has booth and workshop on safe schools and bullying

Columbus--A national �ex-gay� group, refused space in the National Parent-Teacher Association convention last weekend, claimed they were being discriminated against.

Parents and Friends of Ex-Gays, or PFOX, was upset that the convention included a booth and presentation by the larger, pro-gay group which their name mimics, PFLAG, Parents, Family and Friends of Lesbians and Gays.

So, P-FOX held a series of workshops in the Hyatt hotel adjacent to the PTA event in the Columbus Convention Center. They also showed a film they say should be presented in schools.

According to PFLAG member Nancy Tepfer of Dayton, �No one showed up to support PFOX� at their sessions or workshops.

The anti-gay group held a press conference on June 24 at the hotel. Later, national PFLAG executive director Ron Schlittler spoke to another press gathering about his organization�s opposition to PFOX, their agenda and strategies in the nation�s schools.

�If we handle this right, it could be an important turning point opportunity to reframe the national discussion on all of this,� Schlittler noted.

PFOX says that the PTA broke its own principles of diversity and inclusion by refusing them.

�The PTA denied PFOX�s request to exhibit at the parent-teacher gathering because we support tolerance and inclusion for ex-gay students and teachers, which is an unpopular position with the PTA leadership,� said PFOX director Regina Griggs.

The idea that gays and lesbians can or should �convert� to heterosexuality is promoted by conservative Christian groups. Scientific evidence shows that being gay or bisexual is innate. Both the American Psychiatric Association and the American Psychological Association have said attempting to �change� can be emotionally harmful, leading to depression and self-destructive behavior.

Nancy Tepfer was at the PFLAG booth at the convention�s exhibit room along with fellow PFLAG members Toby Horowitz of Akron and Janice Neubecker of Detroit.

Horowitz said that security had been very helpful and cooperative with PFLAG, acknowledging that PFOX was there to create trouble.

�The security here came and asked us if everything was okay,� she said. �They told us that if they [PFOX] came by, they would be ejected from the conference area.�

Tepfer said that they had monitored the PFOX rooms at the Hyatt and had also sent others to keep an eye on the anti-gay group.

�No one was there,� Tepfer said.

Neubecker noted that PFOX had made no impact among convention delegates.

�Most aren�t even aware of what is going on,� she said.

On Saturday morning, PFLAG conducted a session on safe schools and anti-bullying policies in room C-222 at the convention center. Dr. Fred Petersen, Rev. Larry J. Rezash, Judy Hoff and Roy Gilbert-Higginson were the presenters.

A security guard was assigned to stand outside the door and once the session began, anyone wanting to get it was screened.

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