NEW YORK — Truth Wins Out today called a lawsuit settlement between Parents and Friends of Ex-Gays (PFOX) and Arlington County (Virginia) schools a capitulation that puts the health and well being of students at risk. The agreement allows PFOX to hand out pseudoscientific fliers at middle schools that will urge students to visit a website that refers them to a troubled counselor who was permanently expelled from the American Counseling Association.
“Arlington County failed in its responsibility to protect students and ensure that they are not harmed by disreputable therapists or dangerous practices,” said Truth Wins Out’ Executive Director Wayne Besen. “The content provided by PFOX is medically reckless and morally reprehensible and no school system should have a hand in its distribution.”
Truth Wins Out contends that by focusing on the phony question of equal access, Arlington County missed an opportunity to win this case by pointing out that PFOX is a discredited group that is driven by Richard Cohen, a bizarre therapist who was permanently expelled by the American Counseling Association. Cohen’ peculiar brand of therapy includes banging a tennis racket while yelling a parent’ name, caressing clients who sit on his lap and blaming the angry spirits of dead relatives for causing homosexuality.
“It is clear that if the methods practiced by Cohen had been made central to this legal battle, PFOX would have been railroaded out of court,” said Besen. “Even conservatives would have recoiled when they saw Cohen’ methods as displayed on national television. Arlington County could have made a strong case that they have a duty to protect vulnerable children from the predatory therapies promoted by PFOX.”
Cohen displayed some of his bizarre “therapy” earlier this year on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, CNN Now with Paula Zahn and ABC’ Jimmy Kimmel Live. After his appearance on The Daily Show in March, right wing groups distanced themselves from Cohen, including PFOX. However, a Truth Wins Out investigation revealed that Cohen is still a primary PFOX referral.
Every major medical and mental health organization also warns that attempts to change sexual orientation may be counterproductive and even dangerous. In a 1998 position statement, the American Psychiatric Association said, “potential risks of “reparative therapy’ are great, including depression, anxiety and self-destructive behavior, since therapist alignment with societal prejudices against homosexuality may reinforce self-hatred already experienced by the patient.”
“It is astounding that Arlington County would allow children to take home fliers that promote a therapy that the leading experts have warned may cause “depression, anxiety and self-destructive behavior,'” said Besen. “Equal access does not apply to ex-gay therapy any more than it applies to other harmful vices such as the promotion of drinking or smoking. It is like saying if you allow fliers for orange juice, that Jack Daniels must hand out information as a matter of fairness. This is patently absurd and Arlington County ought to be ashamed for not defending its right to shield students from this clear and present danger.”
Truth Wins OUT is a non-profit organization that counters right wing propaganda, exposes the “ex-gay” myth and educates America about gay life. For more information, visit www.TruthWinsOut.org.
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