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Palm Coast Tuesday, Dec. 6, 2016 2 years ago

Readers respond to stories on Maria Barbosa and Colleen Conklin

One reader asks, 'Did Maria Barbosa really do anything wrong?'

Barbosa article fails to see the other side of sexual identity conflicts

Dear Editor:

I am responding to an article written by Jonathan Simmons, news editor, in the Dec. 1 Palm Coast Observer, titled “Barbosa blurs counseling credentials.”

At first glance, it seems the article was trying to educate the public about proper counseling credentials, but it became immediately obvious to me that the actual intent was to discredit Ms. Barbosa because of her Christian faith.

Real Christian counselors — whose theology and actual lifestyle cannot be separated — are a threat to some who may fear that people with unwanted same-sex attraction may seek the services of a counselor who is unrestricted by state licensing’s mandate to tell that suffering individual that they are OK as-is and should simply accept themselves as gay.

Many well-trained, well-experienced Christian counseling professionals purposely avoid state licensing because they are called to serve clients with this presenting issue, who would not be able to otherwise reach their desired goals.

The article mentions the risks associated with treating sexual identity conflicts. The quotes around sexual identity conflicts attempt to suggest that these conflicts are fictional, but one need only take a look around the hallways of our high schools and college campuses or be present during a youth and adult discussions about human sexuality to note the contrary.

Many people are confused and need help navigating their way through a maze of deception promoted by a liberal agenda over the past eight years. The article also states, “that’s not a mental health condition listed in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (fifth edition),” a publication of the American Psychological Association.

The article fails, however, to mention that the top researcher of the APA and editor-in-chief of their Handbook of Sexuality and Psychology, Dr. Lisa Diamond, an avowed lesbian activist and one of the most respected members of the APA, recently published that homosexuals are not born that way.

Dr. Diamond summarized relevant findings at Cornell University in 2013 (on video to an audience of homosexual activists), stating that “abundant research has now established that sexual orientation — including attraction, behavior, and self-identity — is fluid.” In other words, it is changeable.

It is not difficult then to conclude that for political purposes the APA’s DSM has not yet been updated. A campaign to discredit Dr. Diamond is now underway by the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, of which I was an active member.

I urge you to report all the facts when you mention the mental health of confused (gender identity issues) and conflicted (unwanted same-sex attracted) persons.
As a former lesbian activist and gay publisher, I could have only hoped that a counselor such as Ms. Barbosa had been accessible to me and others, who after many years of knowing that something was wrong, finally sought to be rid of same-sex attraction forever.

Thankfully, I found that freedom 11 years ago through total acceptance of Biblical principles of Christian faith. I have never met Ms. Barbosa, but my respect for her, as a counselor and certainly as our new Flagler County School Board, member has quadrupled! What was meant to harm her reputation has greatly enhanced it, in my view.

Rev. Charlene E. Cothran

Pastor at Zion Baptist Church of Palm Coast


Has Barbosa really done anything wrong?

Dear Editor:

After reading your story “Barbosa blurs counseling credentials,” I came away thinking, this is a classic case of character assassination by innuendo. Many of us have come to expect stories of this nature in the New York Times, but I was surprised to find it in the Palm Coast Observer.

You start off with a front-page sensational headline and a less than flattering picture of your subject, which must have taken some time to locate in your archives. You clearly insinuate something sinister or illegal has taken place. Yet, you end up concluding: “Department of Health records show no consumer complaints filed against Barbosa. Likewise Flagler and Orange counties' court records show no lawsuits have been filed against Barbosa related to her counseling.”

You point out that she is not licensed in Florida, but then go on to say she is not required to be. To use an old expression, so, “Where’s the beef?”

The Observer has made no secret of how it feels about Barbosa. You endorsed her opponent, which you have every right to do. However, the election is over, and this article is over the top.

Making repeated and highlighted references to charges of plagiarism going back to Barbosa’s run for the School Board in 2014, including the link to the story, suggests the Observer has abandoned any pretense of objectivity and fair play.

As a public elected official, Barbosa is fair game for scrutiny and accountability. You point out that she may have embellished her resume, and that is fair game. However, in your extensive article filled with innuendo, the most complementary thing you can say about Barbosa is that she is a grandmother of nine.

The Observer’s coverage in this article appears to be one-sided with the goal of smearing a public elected official without actually pointing out any wrongdoing. This is clearly a “hatchet” job. I call on the Observer for a more balanced approach.

Barbosa has been a member of the School Board for just a couple of weeks. Let’s give her a chance to see what she can do on the board and evaluate her performance on that basis, rather than try to undermine her position before she gets her feet on the ground.

Mario V. Carmo

Palm Coast

Editor’s Note: From your letter: “You point out that she is not licensed in Florida, but then go on to say she is not required to be.”

That is not correct. The state does require a state license, and Barbosa does not have one. There is an exception for clergy working under the auspices of a church, but Barbosa is not operating under the auspices of a church, or at least she would not identify a church in an interview.


Article on Barbosa’s credentials is deeply troubling

Dear Editor:

The recent article about Maria Barbosa's background as a mental health counselor is deeply disturbing. If I am to believe the Observer's research and report, and I do, this is a person who is walking a very thin line between legality and misrepresentation in her claims of professional accreditation.

I cannot imagine how she can legally continue to "treat" people in this state, and I'm dumbfounded that other fully trained counselors with real certifiable accreditation have failed to challenge her "professional" credentials, and in fact her entire practice.

But what disturbs me the most is that local Republicans put Barbosa into a sensitive position as a School Board member with such questionable credentials. This clearly affirms that local Republicans care far less for professional capability than for party affiliation.

We are in for a dark period for Flagler County under Republican hypocrisy. Or, as I call it, Repocrisy.

Mike Cocchiola

Palm Coast


Conklin needs to address Clinton’s rhetoric, as well as Trump’s

Dear Editor:

I applaud Colleen Conklin for raising the issue that “words matter.” For her efforts and courage in looking for common ground on which Americans can be civil to one another, I give her a B.

Had she also mentioned Clinton’s words calling Trump supporters “racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic, Islamophobic — you name it”, she would have received an A.

Some of those who voted for Trump in Flagler County also have children in the Flagler Schools. Words matter to these children as well.

If anyone can improve the dialogue and find common ground on which we move forward as Americans, it’s Colleen Conklin. She is thoughtful and passionate, and open to dialogue. Perhaps we can all agree that applying ‘labels’ to someone to define their character needs to stop.

To me, applying labels has little to do with the true definition of racism, sexism, etc., but everything to do with the quality of our individual hearts. It takes far more energy to spew hate than it does to forgive!

Colleen is absolutely right: Our children deserve better, and so do our friends and neighbors.

Joe Roy

Palm Coast


Conklin’s article on swastikas reveals Observer’s liberal bias

Dear Editor:

The article regarding School Board member Colleen Conklin's comments about swastikas being written on students’ hands was rich, but expected. I wonder if Ms. Conklin paid any attention to the other candidate for president with her and her staff’s comments that were published during the acrimonious campaign, references to Christians/Latin Americans/Republican voters (half of America) — even her revered Black Lives Matter movement.

I know she touched on other issues but the tone was exactly what I have come to expect from this small town liberal paper.

Robert St Clair

Palm Coast

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