The U.S. Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division has been asked to investigate Montgomery County, Md., school Superintendent Joshua Starr for bigoted statements against a minority group that he has criticized as being “really, really disgusting.”
The request has been filed by officials with Parents and Friends of Ex-Gays and Gays, who also are asking for intervention by the Office for Civil Rights in the U.S. Department of Education.
The issue is Starr’s intolerance of members of the ex-”gay” community, according to a complaint, a copy of which was posted online.
His bigotry and actions are “reminiscent of the 1950s Jim Crow South when public pools and other public areas were closed rather than allow the participation of African-Americans, a disfavored minority group,” the complaint says. “Today it is the ex-gay community that is the unpopular minority group.”
That particular accusation comes because the superintendent shut down an entire system that allowed community groups to provide information to district students just so that PFOX would lose the same access to those students that other groups had.
The request is for an investigation – and oversight of “a remedial program to ensure diversity and non-discrimination against ex-gays.”
“Starr misused his official position as school superintendent to gain access to students and indoctrinate them with his prejudicial bias against the ex-gay community,” said Regina Griggs, executive director of PFOX. “The Department of Justice has investigated complaints against schools for discriminating against transgenders – those who have changed their gender identity. The ex-gay community – those who have changed their sexual orientation – asks for equal treatment from our federal government.”
An enraged Starr, after he discovered PFOX was distributing, like other community groups, information to students, publicly denigrated PFOX and former homosexuals by calling the actions of PFOX “reprehensible and deplorable” and labeling the message from the organization “a really, really disgusting message.”
“PFOX’s flyers provided information on unwanted same-sex attractions, discouraged student name calling and labeling, and urged tolerance for former homosexuals,” Griggs said. “Starr does not respect real diversity. As school superintendent, Starr’s actions make it impossible for Montgomery County public schools to provide an atmosphere where everyone is treated fairly and with respect, and free from discrimination and abuse, as mandated by its sexual orientation nondiscrimination policy.
“When the school superintendent promotes intolerance of former homosexuals, then students and teachers will follow his example and learn to disrespect sexual minorities like the ex-gay community. Superintendent Starr cannot be allowed to use his official position to display hate against any group of people just because he disagrees with their sexual orientation,” Griggs said.
The complaint points out that in a ruling from the Superior Court for the District of Columbia, former homosexuals were recognized as a protected class for sexual orientation and nondiscrimination purposes.
The complaint explains on Feb. 1, 2012, PFOX distributed its flyers to several of the high school’s student body. They provided information concerning unwanted same-sex attractions, discouraged name calling and labeling, and urged tolerance for former homosexuals.
However, Starr launched into a tirade against the message.
Appeals for help to the local board of education as well as the Maryland State Board of Educaiton were met only with endorsements of Starr’s attitude.
“We thus seek federal remedial action to protect a minority group from a hostile and prejudicial state/local entity,” the complaint explains. “Starr’s bigoted statements against a sexual minority group like the ex-gay community and PFOX were made in his role as a public employee pursuant to his official duties of addressing students at town hall meetings.”