This is the statement from the Milton Hershey School:
"These irresponsible descriptions of the experience of Mr. Marchese and Mr. Dobson are being used to create a sideshow to derail the case that is right now before the court. Sexuality was not a central part of the complaint. It is barely referenced in a 239-paragraph complaint against the school. Sexuality is a personal and powerful issue, and the current story infuses it into this case and distracts people from the facts at hand. The goal here is to manipulate and inflame so the facts, being presented right now by both sides in the lawsuit, get glossed over.
"We try to instill all MHS students with the school's 'Sacred Values.' One of them is mutual respect. It guides our students and alumni to celebrate their uniqueness while always searching for ways we are similar to one another – not for ways to divide. For that reason, MHS will continue to focus on defending the support it provides for children with mental-health needs. We spend over $15 million on health care alone, for children who would otherwise need to rely on government services. Our case is strong, and we are hopeful the media side show will not jeopardize it, as intended.
"Student confidentiality and the trust our families and alumni place in us to honor their privacy limits what we can say, and the other side knows that. It has always been, and remains, the policy of MHS that no houseparent administers therapy of any kind to any student. Our highly credentialed psychologists are accredited by the American Psychological Association, and would never condone any form of 'gay conversion therapy.'
"These are the full comments of graduates provided by the Milton Hershey School.
James Stankunas, Class of 2011:
"I didn't feel forced. It was voluntary. He [Marcous] certainly would not feel forced by Mrs. S. I don't really understand what he is trying to get out of this.
"I was there and I personally did not feel like I was forced to watch it. Mrs. S. is very cool and accepting to me and very loving.
"I was always into that. I watched documentaries about being gay and Christian. I struggled with my sexuality growing up and with my family who raised me and even sometimes attending a school with Christian values. My grandmother was Pentecostal. I wanted to seek the truth because I did struggle with my Christianity. There was nothing that was done to express me wanting to change or this video making me change.
"I will stand by Mrs. S because I know that she came from a place of love all the time. I was interested in hearing different sides. I felt love and support from several staff members who were accepting. Yes, she is of Christian faith. I felt unconditional love from her. There was acceptance and tolerance."
Nic Possiel, Class of 2011:
"I lived in the house where the movie was viewed, and can say that since day one in that home I felt like it was family. My houseparents were loving and understanding and always made it feel comfortable and like it was a home away from home. The houseparents were the ones who made it feel that way. We always felt cared for and had support. School and activities always came first with them, but I had a boyfriend for three years. My housemother and her extended family met him. She was the first person I talked to about relationships and she always gave me advice. She has been my rock to lean on.
If they watched a video, it was because a student asked or wanted to, and my housemother would always make them feel comfortable. She is so supportive. That is who she is. Deanna Slamans lived next door and she knew about my life and didn't care. She and my housemom are two peas in a pod. And the fact neither of them would care about that was something I cherished. She (Deanna Slamans) was right next door. If either of them allowed a student to watch this video, it would be in order to have an intellectual conversation and show different viewpoints. We always had discussions and debates about movies. If you knew either of them or what they stand for, you'd know. They both work so hard to improve people's lives and to slander them like this or spin this in some way to make them look bad is frustrating. This whole story sounds odd to me, especially coming to light so many years later."
Nick Miller, Class of 2014: