Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Another professor cries foul over religious right misrepresentation of research

In what seems to be becoming a habit, another professor has cried foul over what he calls the distortion of his work by the religious right.

Theo Sandfort, Associate Professor of Clinical Sociomedical Sciences (HIV Center for Clinical and Behavioral Studies - New York State Psychiatric Institute and Columbia University) said his work is being incorrectly cited.

Recently, Regina Griggs of PFOX (Parents and Friends of Ex-Gays and Gays) voiced her displeasure with a recent study conducted in California that said young gays and lesbians were more likely to suffer depression or commit suicide if their parents or guardians reacted negatively to their sexual orientation:

"So what we're doing is we're telling young people and we're telling their parents, 'You must accept those feelings. Who cares where they come from? It's a gay lifestyle -- endorse it!' ....and [then] they threaten parents and frighten them by saying, 'If you don't, then your child may commit suicide.'"

Griggs also added:

Studies in the Netherlands -- where there is an "extremely open society," notes Griggs -- found that although the homosexual lifestyle is affirmed through the culture, the suicide rates have remained steady or increased.

The "studies" Griggs alluded to is actually one study and it has been cited by the religious right numerous times to claim that homophobia has very little to do with the depression and suicide rate of lgbts

The study, Same-Sex Sexual Behavior and Psychiatric Disorders, appeared in the Archives of General Psychiatry in 2001 and it looked at psychiatric disorders in gay adults from the Netherlands.

The part Griggs alluded to said:

It is unclear to what extent findings from this Dutch study can be generalized to other cultures or nations. Compared with other Western countries, the Dutch social climate toward homosexuality has long been and remains considerably more tolerant. To the extent that the level of social acceptance of homosexuality induces differences in mental health status in relation to homosexuality, the observed differences might be greater in other Western countries than in the Netherlands.

Griggs incorrectly cites this study because it had absolutely nothing to do with the subject at hand (i.e. negative behaviors in lgbt youth in the United States).

Also, while she has no problem citing the line about Dutch/Netherlands social climate being more "tolerant," she omits the more important line that comes before it - It is unclear to what extent findings from this Dutch study can be generalized to other cultures or nations.

Via email, Professor Sandfort said:

There is a difference between the U.S. and the Netherlands in terms of acceptance of homosexuality. That does not mean that there is no homophobia (and homophobic damage) in the Netherlands. It is not clear how difference in climate affects the prevalence of mental disorders. We don't know the final answers, but in the U.S. as well as the Netherlands, homophobia is related to mental health problems.

He also said that Griggs and others who use the study to claim that homophobia does not have an effect on negative lgbt behavior are clearly distorting his work:

"They use data to promote their moral convictions without truly understanding what the issues are. They are not interested in understanding how people's lives are affected by their social environment."

Sandfort's complaint is not the first time a professor has cried foul about how PFOX distorts his work.

Last year, Gary Remafedi, a professor of pediatrics at the University of Minnesota, complained that PFOX distorted his work on suicide attempts in gay youth.


News briefs and other issues

It seems that when I'm busy at work, all sorts of interesting things happens.

A blogmate of mine had some problems with hackers:

SoapBlox, host of Pam Spaulding's group blog Pam's House Blend, was subject to a hack on Tuesday that took several blogs offline.

. . . A group called Astalavista has been linked to the hijacking of the affected server, now taken offline by the ISP, and using it to perform attacks on other websites, according to a notation on SoapBlox's front page.

It is not known what can be salvaged. Other sites affected include RadicalRuss.net, BlueJersey, American Liberalism and BeThink.org.

"I wish I could see a bright side to this," Spaulding told PageOneQ. "It's incredible that years of hard work can be destroyed in a flash, but we're in the digital age and there are people motivated to silence voices through malicious acts. I'm hopeful that data will be recovered, but Paul Preston of Soapblox has said he will not restore any sites. That means Pam's House Blend will need to find a new hosting platform and a redesign. That will take a good amount of time."

Pam is back online for now but I just wanted to give her a shout out of support. I have never met her personally but have had the pleasure of posting few diaries on the House Blend.

I hope things work out because the House Blend is a very vital source for this community.

Hang in there, girlfriend!!!


And in other news . . .

ACLU Asks Judge To Suspend Adoption, Foster Law - History will view that ballot measure as huge mistake. The courts need to strike it down quickly.

Soldiers say they'd leave military if 'gay' ban lifted - The only place where Elaine Donnelly has any credibility is on One News Now and the commentators there are giving her grief. Sometimes the world is a good place.

11 gay bars get letters threatening ricin attacks - According to the Mike Huckabee rules of life, this doesn't qualify as a hate crime because no lgbts had their heads cracked open. Okay that was Ann Coulterish of me, but what the hell.

And speaking of girlfriend, let me leave you all with something to ponder. The following link is a glimpse of what I think is the "real" Ann Coulter.

No it does not insult her body, but it is something to think about.

Watch the entire thing!!

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