A former student is suing the prestigious Milton Hershey School in Pennsylvania for forcing him to watch a video meant to convert him from homosexuality.
The school originally called the allegation “outrageous” and said it would never condone such behavior. But now in newly released court documents, the school’s lawyers admit that such a video was indeed used by Hershey house parents and that it was shown to at least one student.
Adam Dobson contends that he was forced to watch the hour-long gay conversion tape as punishment for downloading gay porn as a freshman, which was flagged by the school’s IT department, and that the video was followed by a campaign of prayer sessions and other efforts to get him to change his sexual orientation.
“We would pray together to have God help me from being gay,” Dobson told his lawyers. Dobson said he was told by his house parents of “terrible things that happened to other gay people.”
In a statement Friday, Hershey 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.”
Scullin said in her statement that the Hershey School has “high measures of success in all areas” and a staff with “unwavering commitment to helping children find their unique gifts and passions in order to break the cycle of poverty and lead fulfilling lives.”
The Hershey School house parents are identified in discovery documents as Deanna and Andrew Slamans. A Hershey School graduate, Deanna Slamans was promoted to curriculum supervisor for social emotional learning in May 2014, but left the school suddenly last month.
The Hershey School enrolls 2,000 children from kindergarten through senior year of high school. Students live on campus in about 175 individual homes, staffed by surrogate parents who are school employees and who teach the students values. Costs are well over $100,000 a child.