Hershey Kiss – Not!

The richest boarding school in the United States has admitted in court documents that “a” pupil was shown a gay conversion video.  Milton Hershey School in Pennsylvania had previously branded the claim an ‘outrageous allegation,’ and said staff would ‘never allow or condone’ such action.

Adam Dobson, a former student, has alleged that he was forced to watch the video as punishment for downloading gay porn as a freshman.  The school had denied it, but now their lawyers admit that it was shown to at least one student, according to Philly.com, however, “the school maintains it doesn’t know whether the tape was shown to Adam Dobson.”

Dobson has filed a lawsuit against the school in federal court.

In a statement last week, the school spokeswoman, Lisa Scullin, said, “unequivocally, the school does not promote or endorse any program that could be remotely characterized as gay conversion therapy. Any suggestion otherwise is a gross mischaracterization of our values and the environment on our campus.”

Dobson said he was forced to watch the hour-long video with his house parents, Deanna and Andrew Slamans, before prayer sessions were held to try change his sexuality.

House parents, who are school employees, are charged with teaching students values.

Dobson told lawyers, Philly.com reports: “We would pray together to have God help me from being gay.”

He said house parents also warned him in 2010 that “terrible things” happened to gay people.

What an outrage. Milton Hersey School, with an enrollment of 2,000 children from kindergarten through their senior year of high school, needs to do a great deal of heart searching to determine how they plan on treating the LGBTQ+ students.

According to their website, “Milton Hershey School does not discriminate in admissions or other programs and services on the basis of race, color, national or ethnic  origin,  ancestry, sex, religious creed or disability . . . or any other status protected under applicable federal or Pennsylvania law.

Notice what is missing, “sexual orientation” and “gender identity!” Since we LGBTQ+ people are not protected under federal or Pennsylvania law, the school has a get “out of jail free” card.

The school is largely financed by Hershey chocolate and Reese’s peanut butter cups.

I should note that the Hershey Co. has been recognized as one of the best companies for LGBTQ+ employees, and has a HRC Corporate Index rating of 100.  The school however, not so much.

However, we have a major problem with a school that benefits every time we eat a Hershey product, or visit their properties.

The fact is, the Milton Hershey School Trust, which funds the school, owns controlling interest in The Hershey Company and owns the Hershey Entertainment and Resorts Company, which oversees many of the area hotels along with Hersheypark.

The Milton Hershey School needs to come current with the times and openly accept, into a safe and affirming environment, LGBTQ+ students.  The school’s values must reflect those of their funding source, Hershey Co., or be hypocrites. Also, Hershey School must immediately create a GSA (Gay-Straight Alliance), for LGBTQ+ students and their heterosexual allies, while updating their discrimination policy to include us.

If they refuse these basic steps towards equality and inclusion we must act as a community to protect those students who are forced to deny themselves and boycott all things Hershey till they do.

Click HERE to read this week’s issue of QUEERtimes Weekly

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