In 2016, a prestigious Pennsylvania boarding school denied charges of showing a former student an anti-gay conversion video. At the time, the school, called the allegation ‘outrageous,’ saying it does not condone such behavior.
Now, court documents reveal that such a video was used by house parents at the Milton Hershey School and shown to at least one student.
However, the school maintains it does not know whether the tape was shown to Adam Dobson, a former student who is suing the private school in federal court.
Dobson claims he was forced to watch the 60-minute gay conversion video, followed by a series of pray-the-gay-away prayer sessions after he was caught downloading gay porn.
The Philadelphia Inquirer reported that Dobson told his lawyers, ‘We would pray together to have God help me from being gay,’ and that his house parents at the school told him about ‘terrible things that happened to other gay people.’
Dobson’s suit alleges that during his freshman year in 2010, he was forced to watch the anti-gay video as punishment for downloading gay porn. The school’s IT department detected the porn download.
Dobson says the anti-gay video was by Sy Rogers, a leader in the ex-gay movement who was connected to the now defunct Exodus International ex-gay organization.
During his junior year, Dobson was depressed and attempted suicide by wrapping a belt around his neck. When he reported the suicide attempt to school officials, he was expelled.
The Inquirer reported that a school spokesperson released a statement on Friday, saying, ‘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.’
Regarding Dobson’s case, the spokesperson said, ‘the discovery process is ongoing. Once witnesses are deposed, a full picture will emerge and the credible facts will become clear.’
The Milton Hershey School, founded in 1909, is one of the US’s richest private schools, enrolling 2,000 students from kindergarten to grade12, at a cost of more than $100,000 (€87,000, £77,000) per student per year.
The school, which has a large wooded campus on several thousand acres, is located in Hershey, Pennsylvania, near Harrisburg, the state capital.
GSN has approached the Hershey School for comment.