News Release: March 15, 2006
Contact: Regina Griggs, PFOX Director, 703-360-2225
New public school guidelines endorsed by gay group GLSEN and Christian organization CEAI
WASHINGTON, DC – The First Amendment Center has released the first consensus guidelines to help public schools develop sexual orientation policies. The new guidelines advise school officials to include the viewpoints of all participants in order to develop policies that promote fairness for all. According to Charles Haynes, a primary drafter of the guidelines and Senior Scholar at the First Amendment Center, the ex-gay viewpoint in public schools is protected by the First Amendment and should be heard.
Haynes explained that incidents such as the one last year in Montgomery County, Maryland, might have been avoided had guidelines like these been in place. In that case, Parents and Friends of Ex-Gays & Gays (PFOX) successfully sued the Montgomery County School Board for failing to include the ex-gay viewpoint. Haynes said, “Americans are deeply divided over homosexuality in our society. But if public school officials and community leaders use the ground rules of the First Amendment, they can reach agreement on how public schools can guard the rights of all students in a safe learning environment.”
One of the endorsers to the guidelines also agrees that school officials should consider the ex-gay viewpoint. “The strength in the framework of the guidelines is that all sides should be heard and this does include the ex-gay perspective, ” said Finn Laursen, director of Christian Educators Association International (CEAI).
“As PFOX continues to work for inclusion and respect of the ex-gay viewpoint in public schools nationwide, we are assured by the consensus guidelines that the ex-gay viewpoint is protected by the First Amendment,” said Regina Griggs, PFOX Director. “In too many schools, the ex-gay viewpoint is censored or marginalized. Now school districts are held to a standard of respect. According to the new guidelines, actions by educators to exclude some views merely because they disagree with them constitute viewpoint discrimination in violation of the First Amendment.”
The guidelines have also been endorsed by the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network (GLSEN), American Association of School Administrators, and Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development.
PFOX is a non-profit organization supporting families and the ex-gay community. The First Amendment Center is associated with the Newseum and Freedom Forum. The guidelines are available at http://www.firstamendmentcenter.org.