MEMPHIS --- The National Parent Teacher Association has denied a pro-family organization that advocates for the ex-gay community, Parents and Friends of Ex-gays and Gays, the right to exhibit at the PTA's national convention, June 10-13, in Memphis, Tenn.
PFOX was told in a letter from the PTA's president, Charles J. "Chuck" Saylors, that PFOX's mission, goals and objectives were "not in harmony with the National PTA's Diversity and Inclusion Policy." Saylors, the first male national PTA president, is a member of Forestville Baptist Church in Greenville, S.C. He served a two-year term, 2003-2005, as the South Carolina PTA president.
"PFOX's mission and goals did not line up with the PTA's," James Martinez, media relations manager for the PTA, told Baptist Press in an e-mail.
The PTA's policy speaks of accepting differences and similarities in a host of categories -- "age, ethnicity, language and culture" among them -- as well as "sexual orientation."
A letter from PFOX inquiring about how that organization failed to meet the PTA's diversity and inclusion policy gave no specific answer.
In response to the letter, Saylors told PFOX in an e-mail that "I believe our letter dated May 7, 2010, provides a fair and complete accounting of PTA's position related to your application. Thank you for your consideration."
A PTA spokesperson said the organization had no additional comment regarding PFOX, and neither Saylors nor PFOX could be reached for comment. However, the PTA's list of exhibitors for the national convention includes the Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG). Asked why PFLAG was allowed to be an exhibitor but not PFOX, Martinez said only that PFOX's mission and goals did not line up with the PTA's.
PFOX has urged the public to contact the PTA asking why the organization will not be able to exhibit at the convention, which begins June 10.
"Why is it gay groups meet the PTA Diversity and Inclusion Policy but our families do not? 'Diversity' and 'inclusion' should mean exactly that -- diversity and inclusion of everyone," PFOX executive director Regina Griggs said in a statement. "... The PTA has become a left-wing advocacy group instead of serving the needs of all children."
PFOX is a part of PATH, a non-profit alliance of organizations aiming to aid people with unwanted same-sex attractions. The organization has branches in 25 states -- many in association with local churches and ministries.
The PTA says its goal is to provide all children with a "voice" through resources for parents, teachers and communities. The PTA calls itself the largest volunteer child advocacy program in America.
Gracie Ferrell is a student at Union University in Jackson, Tenn.