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VA school board reprimands wingnut official for touting "ex-gay" propaganda

Robert Rigby, a Falls Church High School teacher, said using a classroom setting to say that homosexuality is a choice could hurt gay students. (Frank Johnston — The Washington Post)

At least this time, the wingnut was called out and was forced to apologize. I’m sure in many, many other districts around the country, sending a letter promoting the “ex-gay” movement wouldn’t even cause a stir. (WP):

The Fairfax County School Board issued a public reprimand last night to a member who sent a letter to high school principals urging them to ensure that students hear the views of people who believe homosexuality is a choice and a “destructive lifestyle.” After a unanimous vote and a nearly two-hour closed session that ended about 11, Board Chairman Phillip A. Niedzielski-Eichner (Providence) released a board statement criticizing the actions of Stephen M. Hunt (At Large).

“The letter sent by Mr. Hunt was not authorized by and does not reflect the views of the School Board,” according to the statement. “The School Board continues to support the family life education curriculum and its treatment of this sensitive subject.”

This week, Hunt sent a letter to the district’s 24 high school principals in which he expressed concerns over the way homosexuality is taught in the school system and encouraged the addition of speakers with an “ex-gay perspective.” Last night, Hunt apologized to the board, the principals, the staff and the community in a written statement and said he had “usurped board policy.”

…Earlier yesterday, as news of the letter spread, so did the debate over a school district’s role in teaching about sex and sexual preference. Robert Rigby Jr., a gay Fairfax County schoolteacher, expressed concern that Hunt’s letter might be harmful to gay students. “The problem with promoting the ex-gay movement is it is part of a larger movement that is against gay people,” Rigby said.

Hunt’s letter was not reviewed by any of his colleagues on the 12-member board, and several said it was inappropriate because principals might have believed it was endorsed by the board. The two-page letter was written on personal stationery, but the signature identified Hunt as a School Board member. Several board members said yesterday that they were flooded with e-mails and phone calls on the issue, many from people angered by Hunt’s letter and some from people who support his views.

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Pam Spaulding

Pam Spaulding