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University LGBTQ Resource Centers in Virginia Engaging in Viewpoint Discrimination

September 25, 2013

Undercover Investigation Reveals Medically Inaccurate, Discriminatory, and Biased Counseling


LGBTQ Resource Center UVAhome_rotundaAs a part of September’s Ex-Gay Awareness Month, Voice of the Voiceless (VoV) went undercover into seven of Virginia’s fifteen state universities to document a variety of misconduct among publicly-funded employees, including medically-inaccurate advice, view point discrimination, and biased counseling for students who experience unwanted homosexual feelings. The investigation, which occurred over a 2 ½ week period in September, involved two former homosexuals posing as graduate students seeking anonymous counseling for unwanted homosexual feelings at university resource centers for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, or questioning (LGBTQ) students.

The LGBTQ Resource Centers in violation include the University of Virginia, James Madison University, George Mason University, Virginia Commonwealth University, Old Dominion University, Christopher Newport University, and the College of William and Mary. Today, Liberty Counsel, an international nonprofit litigation, education, and policy organization dedicated to advancing religious freedom, the sanctity of life, and the family, sent letters to all seven university presidents regarding their LGBTQ Resource Centers, urging them to include all viewpoints on this issue, and informing them that presenting only one viewpoint is not only wrong, but can cause harm to students.

“State-funded universities are required to provide value-neutral, medically-accurate information to all students in need of guidance. What we uncovered was a deliberate withholding of potentially life-saving information for students who may desire counseling to overcome unwanted homosexual feelings,” commented Christopher Doyle, President and Co-Founder of VoV. “A counselor at George Mason University told me that if I sought therapy to change, I would likely become psychologically-damaged, depressed, and even commit suicide. Instead of referring me to a licensed mental health practitioner or faith-based counselor that aligned with my spiritual values, I was told to attend the gay-affirming Metropolitan Community Church and read a book called ‘The Lord is my Shepherd, and He Knows I’m Gay’.

At Old Dominion University, the LGBTQ Resource Center staff said being gay was genetic, natural, and a part of your personality, and that therapy to help individuals who want to change is nothing but “brain washing” attempts to “pray away the gay” and “not valid.”

Organizations such as Parents and Friends of Ex-Gays and Gays (PFOX) have been providing informational pamphlets, free of charge, to state-funded Virginia universities for many years in an effort to advocate for students with unwanted SSA. But while gay-affirming information is readily available and prominently displayed for students to collect, ex-gay pamphlets are routinely destroyed and/or suppressed by biased resource center employees, who are required by law to provide equal access for all views on homosexuality. “At George Mason University, I nearly begged the counselor to give me an ex-gay pamphlet, which was buried in the bottom drawer of his filing cabinet. At UVA, the resource center’s director refused to show or give me an ex-gay pamphlet because he said he did not have enough of them to hand out. When I asked him where I could find scientific research on homosexuality, he referred me to the Huffington Post,” commented Doyle.

Last spring, Regina Griggs, Executive Director of PFOX communicated with UVA’s LGBTQ Resource Center Director Scott Rheinheimer, requesting that PFOX brochures and ex-gay books be placed inside the LGBTQ Resource Center and for PFOX to be listed on a printable list of resources to be handed out to students when requesting information. Mr. Rheinheimer assured her that the PFOX material was in his office and that PFOX general information material was in their center.

But during the undercover visit, the printable resource material that Mr. Rheinheimer distributed did not list any ex-gay organizations; rather, he scribbled PFOX’s name and website on the printed list only after repeated requests for ex-gay information. While no information was available on sexual orientation change, there was plenty of literature for transgender students seeking to change their biological sex, including this book.

Perhaps the most alarming “counsel” occurred at James Madison University in Harrisonburg, VA, which has a history of anti-ex-gay extremism within their faculty. The counselor suggested that people are born gay, and that therapy to help overcome unwanted SSA is motivated by religious extremists who “ship their kids away” to “conversion therapy camps” for months at a time so they would come back straight.” Such myths, which have been advanced by gay
activists, have been thoroughly debunked
.

When asked about the health risks of homosexual behavior, the counselor erroneously suggested that protected” gay sex between men was no more risky than heterosexual intercourse and that the risk of HIV is no higher for men that have sex with men. She was also seemingly ignorant of the fact that there is no condom approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for anal sex.

“It is the height of irresponsibility to suggest that male gay sex is no more risky than heterosexual intercourse, especially considering that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently reported that an astonishing 94.9 percent of HIV diagnoses among teenage boys (13-19-years-old) were linked to homosexual sex and 94.1 percent of the cases among young men ages 20-24 were from gay sex,” commented Doyle. “Not only are these LGBTQ Resource Centers discriminating against those who seek to overcome unwanted homosexual feelings, but they are also failing to provide gay-identified students medically-accurate information that could potentially save their life. The fact that these centers are being funded by state dollars is completely outrageous. Every tax-paying citizen in Virginia should be outraged!”

Specific recommendations for reform will include tolerance and sensitivity training for former homosexuals and students with unwanted SSA, professional development instruction so university staff can provide competent counseling and/or referrals for affected students, and university-financed distribution of ex-gay friendly resources made available in LGBTQ Resource and Multi-Cultural Centers. Detailed findings of each LGBTQ Resource Center’s violations and recommendations for reforms (as well as a recording for each undercover counseling session) will be published in the upcoming report: University Campus Climate Report: Virginia LGBTQ Resource Centers an ‘Unsafe Zone’ for Students with Unwanted Same-Sex Attractions.

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For more information on Voice of the Voiceless, Ex-Gay Awareness Month, and the First Annual Ex-Gay Awareness Dinner and Reception on September 30 in Washington, D.C., visit: http://pfox.org/join-us-for-dinnner.pdf and http://www.voiceofthevoiceless.info/exgayawarenessmonth/

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