People can choose not to be gay, the fliers said.
County schools Superintendent Joshua P. Starr called the message “disgusting” and the actions of the organization publishing the fliers "deplorable."
Rockville High School principal Debra Munk found the content problematic.
But what did students think about the fliers, distributed earlier this year at some Montgomery County Public Schools by the group Parents and Friends of Ex-Gays and Gays?
Did students at Rockville schools even notice?
“I’m a big fan for the First Amendment, but they just made a lot of us so uncomfortable,” said Kelsey Lynn, an officer with Rockville High's Gay Straight Alliance. Lynn, a Rockville High senior, said she is one of the minority of students who paid attention to the controversial fliers. (Click on the PDF above to view the flier.)
Under a policy based on a federal appeals court ruling, MCPS distributes fliers from nonprofit organizations four times a year.
“[PFOX] didn’t give us enough fliers," Munk said. "There weren’t enough available to distribute to every student. So we left them at the main office desk for anyone who wants them … I couldn’t tell you if anyone picked them up. They don’t pick up much."
Most students do not pay attention to the fliers given to the schools by nonprofits, even when distributed through the classroom, Munk said. She ends up “picking them out of the parking lot," she said.
“Paper just isn’t a great way to communicate anymore," Munk said.
If noticed by Rockville High students, the fliers would not have been well-received, she said.
“I think Dr. Munk handled it very well,” said Julie Klinkner, staff sponsor of Rockville High’s GSA. The strategy of putting the fliers in a public place for students to grab if they choose was a good way to avoid offending students, she said.
Three students at Richard Montgomery High School were not aware of the fliers until asked about them by Patch.
“I side with the superintendent ...," said Richard Montgomery High junior Vivian Bui. "I can just imagine, if I were to be gay, I would be really insulted if I saw those fliers."
Students said their opinions were not influenced by anything they learned in health class. County schools' curriculum on health and sexuality does not deal with whether being gay is something people can change.
“For those who are gay and accept it, just the thought of this organization suggesting change makes it seem like being gay is a bad thing,” said Richard Montgomery High School sophomore Alina Bui, Vivian's sister.
“This organization seems to be intolerant and narrow-minded, seeking to change people from who they are,” said Richard Montgomery senior Cydney Nguyen.