"Ex-Gays" | Education | Maryland | News

'Ex-Gay' Therapy Video Approved by State Regulators and Shown to Maryland Students is Pulled


Students taking seventh grade health classes in the Prince George's County Public Schools system were shown a video espousing "ex-gay" therapy as a viable option for students who are LGBT and bullied, Washington City Paper reports:

Betsy Gallun worked as the supervisor for health education in Prince George's County Public Schools until she retired last year, and she thinks information about gay-to-straight therapy should be available to Prince George's County students. "I feel very badly that it's coming under scrutiny, to be honest with you," says Gallun...

...Six health classes have shown "Acception" since last fall, according to PGCPS spokesman Briant K. Coleman—and more were expected to use it this year, says Doyle.

State education regulators also approved the video, according to Coleman. But on Wednesday, PGCPS pulled the video pending further review, only to terminate the program permanently later that day.

AcceptionstillGallun was introduced to the 21-minute anti-bullying video (stills from it above, and right) "Acception" by "ex-gay" quack Richard Cohen:

[The video] at first appears to promote the acceptance of gay children. In the video, four students are assigned a project on homophobic bullying, with the group splitting up to study the issues of bullying and the origins of homosexuality. Two of the students encounter a cavemen parable about the origins of bullying, but the teens researching same-sex attraction soon find themselves in a different kind of scientifically dicey territory. While the video initially explores gay teenagers being bullied and a young man coming out to his parents, it soon features a student talking about how his once-lesbian cousin used therapy to become attracted to men. Then, the students in the video "watch" an interview with a gay-to-straight therapist.

"If someone wants to live a gay life, I respect that, and if someone wants to change from gay to straight and choose a different path, I respect that too," says the character, played by an actress. The success of "reparative therapy" is touted elsewhere in the video: In a portion of the video you can watch on YouTube, a woman who once felt attracted to other women says that growing closer to her mother and female friends—a trope of sexual orientation-switching theory—helped her become attracted to men. Discussion questions provided to teachers using "Acception" feature scenarios in which sexual orientation is changed through therapy.

Watch a trailer for the video (which does not show the part where it veers into ex-gay therapy) and a clip from it, AFTER THE JUMP...

(via anthoony catalino)

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  1. Not cool at all! someones got some explaining to do. And my heart goesout to the many gay kids who were forced to watch this, and probably walked away feeling even more miserable.

    Equality Maryland--- get on this and demand some answers. Enough with LGBT being told to just "deal with it" when it relates to homophobia.

    Posted by: Carlos | Feb 8, 2013 1:54:24 PM

  2. I would think with the alarming number of gay youth suicides that gay organizations and groups would want to address this incident, and more over, be sure a message is sent that other schools don't adopt such destructive videos as well. Here's to hoping they do just that because this is not okay.

    Posted by: LesbianMOM | Feb 8, 2013 1:55:50 PM

  3. ....and we wonder why gay kids kill themselves at such horrific rates.

    Is it any wonder when these kinds of messages is all they see & hear. And from their school administrators no less.

    Posted by: Greg | Feb 8, 2013 1:56:48 PM

  4. JUSTSAYIN, a lot of us "angry and insecure Internet fags" have had personal experience with how damaging "ex-gay" pseudo-science can be to struggling youth. I'm all for encouraging people to discover their sexuality without coercion, but this propaganda is just the opposite -- it's about reinforcing ideological programming and conformity, to which adolescents are already more than vulnerable enough.

    The religious supremacists who foist this horsesh*t on society can no longer rely on brute force, so instead they whine about "intolerance" of their viewpoint. Some viewpoints are demonstrably false, and this is one of them. There is absolutely NO evidence that "ex-gay" therapy works, and plenty that it causes incalculable pain, self-hatred and suicide.

    Posted by: DW | Feb 8, 2013 1:58:31 PM

  5. I went to a school in Nebraska that taught us something similar. My friend and I, both being gay but not out at the time, were terribly confused by this. There was a time he was considering going to our guidance counselor to seek advice about being gay and how to open up. Then we were forced to hear a lecture from our teacher with a lot of the points made in the video. They present it as an option, but it's done in a calculating way to make you question yourself even more as a gay kid, when you're already confused and feeling really alone. Needless to say, it took 6 months for my gay friend to take his own life. People don't realize how dangerous and hurtful things like this can be to a gay child who doesn't have a family, peers, church to turn to and then has to see his only school essentially tell him that what he's feeling can and should be reversed if he chooses to. It's overwhelming for our gay kids and we've failed them.

    Posted by: Amir S. | Feb 8, 2013 2:01:31 PM

  6. Disgusting and shameful! someone dropped the ball here and pulling the video isn't enough. How many kids saw it and how many years had they been forced to see it as part of the curriculum?

    Posted by: D.J | Feb 8, 2013 2:03:21 PM

  7. If they're going to present a video about sexuality can be changed, then they need to do the exact same one of a straight teenager looking right into the camera and speaking about how his experiences with gay friends anabled him to also switch sexualities and become gay, and the happy, and fulfilled life he now leads as a gay teenager. Otherwise, this is flawed, bias and prejudice in it's method and anti gay (which it obviously is, but I'm presenting an argument about how the bigots will attempt to pass it off as educational when they refuse to do a counter video of a straight teen who chose being gay and is perfectly happy with it)

    Posted by: TressGoal1992 | Feb 8, 2013 2:05:37 PM

  8. Just picture it:

    Scenario: dark skinned youth across America, both brown and black, were being taunted and belittled every day for the darkness of their skin. Then many started taking their own lives. One dark skinned youth each day taking their lives, expressing in their suicide letter that the color of their skin and the endless bashing they endured as a result has made it too hard to go on. That they would rather take their own lives for being darker skinned, and the hate they endure for it.

    Then a school disrict in a prominent state comes out and starts promoting videos to all youth, especially targeting darker skinned youth, about ways to bleach their skin and how they have the option for not being so dark skinned. With successful examples of how other people managed to go many shades lighter.

    Now imagine the outrage: Exactly.

    We as adult LGBT owe more to our lgbt youth than to sit idle while things like this occur. Stand up, speak up and demand justice for the kids who don't have a voice.

    Posted by: Texas Idol | Feb 8, 2013 2:11:01 PM

  9. @ Texas Idol
    Not only did that sum it up perfectly, but giving that spot on example perfectly put it in perspective, and that is EXACTLY how young gay kids feel.

    Posted by: Klien | Feb 8, 2013 2:11:50 PM

  10. WTF? and this wasn't a Christian school just a regular public school? Seriously, WTF is happening in America?

    Posted by: LUIS-HERNANDEZ | Feb 8, 2013 2:13:25 PM


    Posted by: bd | Feb 8, 2013 2:13:34 PM


    Posted by: bd | Feb 8, 2013 2:13:58 PM

  13. Just watching that video gave me the creeps. Awful, just awful. Can't imagine being 14 and already confused and having that BS drilled in my head.

    Posted by: Gio | Feb 8, 2013 2:28:19 PM

  14. Dang, we may not have marriage equality, but I can assure you that video and just the principle behind this video would never ever be passed in California schools. We have so much protection in our state schools for our LGBT kids because we know how vulnerable they can be. We don't exploit that. I know Maryland equality leaders will be on top of this one, because that state worked so beautifully to pass marriage equality. There just needs to be some accountability on the part of school adminst.

    Posted by: Laguna Beach Res | Feb 8, 2013 2:30:48 PM

  15. In 2013. In the United States, where we constantly boast about freedoms this and freedoms that, our school leaders are attempting to manipulate a childs inherent wiring and change it. This is straight out of some fundamentalist third world nation.

    real shame.

    Posted by: J | Feb 8, 2013 2:32:48 PM

  16. I expect better from you, Maryland. Tsk tsk.

    Actually, I'm just surprised this wasn't out of Texas.

    Posted by: kirkyo | Feb 8, 2013 3:24:59 PM

  17. LOL love it! Homosexuality is a lifestyle choice and the sooner people reconcile that it doesn't have to be, the sooner we can get back to normal.

    Posted by: J. Walsh | Feb 8, 2013 4:07:34 PM

  18. I find the pompous and self-righteous 'dark skin' and 'skin bleaching' analogies people are making here incredibly offensive. Stop comparing homosexuality to race. The latter is inherent trait that comes from familial lineage, the former is not. There is no such thing as "skin bleaching." The world sees a person of color as soon as said person walks into it. The world doesn't see a gay person unless he wants them too. Significant difference. And I say this as gay man of color. As soon as I hear these arbitrary and condescending race/gay comparisons, I immediately go on the defensive. Apples and oranges.

    Posted by: Chance | Feb 8, 2013 4:47:09 PM

  19. For those of you who follow the follies of the "ex-gay" movement, check out the page of the confused closet case who actually made and marketed the video (URL is towards the end of the first clip; posting it seems to get me filtered as spam).
    The script practically writes itself: went to Liberty University, worked for an "abstinence-only" interest group that managed to get federal funding from Bush, poor self-image, obsessed with keeping other people from having sex, and loves to tout his mental health "credentials."

    Posted by: Dan B | Feb 8, 2013 5:12:25 PM

  20. This is really upetting. My stomach actually turns thinking about the poor gay kids who have to sit through these videos and have their minds completely assaulted by bigots who can't accept that...some people happen to love the same sex.
    Bigots being bigots is one thing. Bigots trying to manipulate the minds of our kids in a public school setting is a dang outrage.

    Posted by: Corey | Feb 8, 2013 7:46:08 PM

  21. @ Chance
    They aren't apples and oranges, because black folks like you (and there are a great many homophobic black people, including most black LGBT) are the reason they aren't apples and oranges. Your sense of empathy, compassion and fighting against discrimination is limited to strictly the color of your skin. You flaunt the fact that you're black and "black is skin, gay is sin" like that's going to win over any friends for your movement. The gay community has had a VERY eye opening experience about who our enemies are in our quest for equality and it boils down by and large to the black community. You being black does NOT qualify you to speak on homophobia faced by gay people. Get that CHIP off your shoulder with your sense of entitlement by using your race card to try to put gay people in their place.
    YOU people need to start having your rights voted on, seeing how you're getting a little too comfortable being the oppressor.

    Posted by: L.A Dude | Feb 8, 2013 7:51:27 PM

  22. Chance,
    Black community never has and never will have complete ownership over the words civil rights or injustice. You like to assume you do, but you don't. And constantly trying to discredit discrimination faced by gay people, notably gay youth, and compare it with a litmus test to black suffrage is fascinating to many of us.

    If you'e only capable of waving that civil rights banner for your skin color, don't expect others to be as complacent as you. As a proud gay man, I will fight for anti gay injustice in every bracket of life, point it out, and yes, make necessary analogies when need be. Just as black folk did during their movement in relation to the Chicano movement, woman's suffrage and the Holocaust.

    Gay people will not aplogize for fighting for our rights & respect. No matter what your religion and Church tell you. Know that.

    Posted by: Art Smith | Feb 8, 2013 7:54:59 PM

  23. Chance
    pompous and self righteous is a black community constantly telling the gay community their discrimination doesn't qualify as civil rights. Pompous and self righteous is a black community more concerned about comparisons than *ever* taking a collective stance against homophobia. Pompous and self righteous is consistent polling that indicates black people, be they in California or North Carolina or even Maryland, were the least supportive of gay rights legislation of any other racial makeup. Pompous and self righteous is knowing the imbalance of equality faced by gay people and your automatic reaction as black people consistently being "Nope, you haven't suffered like my ancestors have!"
    And as evident by comments above, gay people of all races (including a middle eastern latino like myself) are keeping tabs and talk about that fact amongst ourselves.
    Pompous is only seeing suffering from your lens. A fact black America has down to an art.

    Posted by: MCG | Feb 8, 2013 7:58:55 PM

  24. there's no such thing as skin bleaching?
    there's plenty of skin bleaching and many successful results from skin bleaching.
    And if you're going to get livid based on a mere mention of skin bleaching as an example, then gay people have every right to be up in arms about ex gay conversion programs being more than an example, but an actual fact in our schools.
    you just feel racism is far far worse than homophobia. many of us don't share that belief and are kinda frankly sick of hearing how much worse racism is than homophobia. it's insulting and comes off insensitive to gay people who live homophobia on a daily basis.

    Posted by: Karl | Feb 8, 2013 8:02:05 PM

  25. There's always a poster in every comments section who plays the race card, tells gay people who black is the only real suffering, and hijacks the discussion away from the topic at hand and back to a discussion about racism. This is about homophobia. No calculating attempt to turn this into how bad black people have it is going to work. Let's get back to the topic at hand.

    What is happening in this school, or happened, is a nightmare and worth addressing by school officials. We can't just let standard homophobia like this pass in schools, because it's gay kids lives at stake here, and often, they feel they have no one to turn to.

    Posted by: Michelle-CO | Feb 8, 2013 8:05:26 PM

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