A complaint filed with the Montgomery County, Md., Board of Education by an advocacy group offering support for those leaving homosexuality says Supt. Joseph Starr “spewed hateful comments against former homosexuals” and needs diversity training.
Parents and Friends of Ex-Gays officials told WND that Starr’s public comments to students in February, which described PFOX fliers as “reprehensible and detestable” after they were distributed in Montgomery County schools, are responsible for creating “an unsafe school environment.”
“In what could have been a positive teaching moment to demonstrate respect and appreciation of differences, fair treatment for all persons, and a safe school environment free of discrimination and abuse, Starr instead chose to exhibit verbal abuse, disrespectful behavior, demonstrated prejudice, slurs, illegal discrimination, and hate against PFOX and the ex-gay sexual orientation, all of which are forbidden by the Nondiscrimination Policy ACB,” the complaint explains.
The brochures, which encourage tolerance for former homosexuals and discourage name-calling, were distributed under the schools “flier distribution program for non-profits.”
WND reported in February on Starr’s comments, when he called PFOX brochures “really, really disgusting,” and on PFOX’s outrage that the leader of the school system has essentially “violated the school board nondiscrimination policy.”
“We call on the Montgomery County Board of Education to enforce its nondiscrimination policy and censure Starr immediately,” Regina Griggs, executive director of PFOX, told WND at the time.
“The policy mandates that schools provide ‘an atmosphere where differences are understood and appreciated, and where all persons are treated fairly and with respect in an environment free of discrimination and … abuse.’ Clearly Supt. Starr has violated the board’s policy,” she said.
District officials confirmed to WND they had received the complaint and would review it.
In a statement sent to WND, PFOX said, “Parents and Friends of Ex-Gays & Gays (PFOX) has filed a sexual orientation discrimination complaint with the Montgomery County (Maryland) Board of Education against its School Superintendent Joshua Starr.”
The group said Starr “publicly denigrated” both PFOX and former homosexuals when he labeled the message contained in the PFOX flyers as “really, really disgusting.”
The message, according to PFOX, encouraged diversity, not name-calling.
“PFOX’s fliers provided information on unwanted same-sex attractions, discouraged student name-calling and labeling, and urged tolerance for former homosexuals,” Griggs told WND.
“Starr does not respect diversity and is creating an unsafe school environment,” she said.
See the superintendent in action:
PFOX alleges that until the superintendent himself receives training on the Board of Education’s policies, the schools will be free to discriminate against ex-”gays.”
“As school superintendent, Starr’s actions make it impossible for Montgomery County public schools to provide an atmosphere where differences are understood and appreciated, or where everyone is treated fairly and with respect free of discrimination and abuse, as mandated by its Nondiscrimination Policy ACB,” said Griggs.
Griggs is asking the school board for three things:
- Allow PFOX to teach an ex-”gay” tolerance training session to Supt. Starr and his staff;
- Have ex-”gay” tolerance and anti-bullying brochures provided by PFOX be made freely available to students and staff in each high school’s counseling office; and
- Allow ex-”gay” books donated by PFOX to be placed in each high school library to ensure diversity and inclusion as mandated by the Nondiscrimination Policy.
“The school superintendent is a vital role model. When the school superintendent promotes intolerance of former homosexuals and organizations that support them, students and teachers will follow his example and learn to also disrespect sexual minorities like the ex-gay community,” said Griggs.
“Superintendent Starr cannot be allowed to use his official position to display hate against any group of people because he disagrees with their sexual orientation,” she continued.
At a February school board meeting, former lesbian Grace Harley testified in front of the board just how hurtful the superintendent’s comments were to her.
“I am sad that Supt. Joshua Starr has called me and other ex-gays names like ‘deplorable’ and ‘disgusting,’” Harley testified. “What saddens me more is that you, the Board of Education, have not reprimanded Supt. Starr.
“If he had said the same things about gays, you would have fired him by now. But because he hates people like me, you support him,” she continued. “I have suffered more discrimination and intolerance as an ex-gay than I ever did when I was gay. Please stop hating us. Follow your own non-discrimination policy.”
She said, “You and the superintendent are role models for children in the Montgomery County Public Schools. If you stop hating former homosexuals, our students will not learn to hate either.”
WND also previously reported that PFOX officials met with Kevin Jennings, former assistant deputy director of the U.S. Department of Education, just a year ago.
Jennings “affirmed the right of ex-gay organizations to have equal access in the nation’s public schools and agreed that former homosexuals should not be discriminated against during outreach efforts for students with unwanted same-sex attractions.”
PFOX also reported it met with Joseph Wheeler, attorney for the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights. He agreed with a 2009 court ruling that ex-”gays” are a legally protected class.
PFOX had brought the lawsuit to ensure equality for the ex-”gay” community.