Tuesday, January 13, 2009

The Family Research Council continues to use 'outdated' work

In December of last year, I emailed the Family Research Council inquiring about the quiet removal of several studies from its webpage. These studies were designed to prove the alleged "dangers of homosexuality."

They were:

"Homosexuality and Child Sexual Abuse"

"The Negative Health Effects of Homosexuality,"

"Homosexual Parenting: Placing Children at Risk"

Tuesday night, I received an answer via email:

Dear Alvin,

Thank you for contacting Family Research Council.

The papers that you inquired about have been removed from our website indefinitely due to the fact that they have outdated sources. However, we have other resources on our website that contain similar information, such as the following:

Getting It Straight

What's wrong with letting same-sex couples legally "marry?"

Why Marriage Should Be Privileged in Public Policy

Comparing the Lifestyles of Homosexual Couples to Married Couples

Ten Arguments From Social Science Against Same-Sex 'Marriage'

You think that would be the end of the story.


The Family Research Council seems to have taken the studies it claims to contain "outdated sources," polished them up, and are now pushing them as credible, up-to-date work.

However, many of these "new" resources contain the same information as the "outdated" studies, sometimes verbatim, including the same endnote citations.

Comparing the Lifestyles of Homosexual Couples to Married Couples (still on the webpage) and the Negative Effects of Homosexuality (removed from the webpage) is a perfect example of this. Among other things, both contain the following:

- A citation of the book Homosexualities: A Study of Diversity Among Men and Women by Alan Bell and Martin Weinberg as a correct generalization of lgbt sexual habits despite the fact that it was written in 1978 and was not meant by the authors to be a correct assessment of the lgbt community in general.

A passage from Homosexualities clearly says:

“. . . given the variety of circumstances which discourage homosexuals from participating in research studies, it is unlikely that any investigator will ever be in a position to say that this or that is true of a given percentage of all homosexuals.”

- A citation of the book The Male Couple: How Relationships Develop by David P. McWhirter and Andrew M. Mattison despite the fact that the book was written 1984 and was not meant to be a correct assessment of the lgbt community in general.

A passage from The Male Couple says:

“We always have been very careful to explain that the very nature of our research sample, its size (156 couples), its narrow geographic location, and the natural selectiveness of the participants prevents the findings from being applicable and generalizable to the entire gay
male community.”

This is important because even if one were to ignore the obvious misusage of these books, their published dates (1978 and 1984 respectively) leads one to ask what exactly does the Family Research Council consider to be an "outdated source?"

And that isn't all I found.

As I said before, some of the studies now present on the Family Research Council's webpage (and thus considered to be accurate) contain some of the same information and citations present in the "outdated" studies.

Some of this information has gotten the Family Research Council in trouble a number of years ago.

Look at the study, Getting It Straight for example.

In chapter 4 - Is Homosexuality a Health Risk, there is this passage (pg. 88):

A study of 3,365 high school students published in Archives of Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine found: “Gay, lesbian, bisexual, or not sure male students were 6.50 times more likely to report a suicide attempt than heterosexual male students. Gay, lesbian, bisexual, or not sure female students were 2.02 times more likely to report a suicide attempt than their heterosexual female peers.”

Robert Garofalo, et al, “Sexual Orientation and Risk of Suicide Attempts among a Representative Sample of Youth,” Archives of Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine 153 (May 1999): 490.

In 1998, Garofalo complained that FRC and several other religious right groups was distorting his research. According to him, the groups omitted a crucial part of his findings (i.e. gay teens engage in negative behavior - suicide attempts - when faced with abuse from a homophobic society). Interestingly enough, when Garofalo complained, then FRC staff member Robert Knight questioned his credibility. (Boston doctor says ads distorted his work on gays, The Boston Globe, August 4, 1998 )

Then there is this passage in the same chapter on pg. 89:

A study published in the International Journal of Epidemiology on the mortality rates of homosexuals concluded that they have a significantly reduced life expectancy:

• “In a major Canadian centre, life expectancy at age twenty for gay and bisexual men is eight to twenty years less than for all men. If the same pattern of mortality were to continue, we estimate that nearly half of gay and bisexual men currently aged twenty years will not reach their sixty-fifth birthday. Under even the most liberal assumptions, gay and bisexual men in this urban centre are now experiencing a life expectancy similar to that experienced by all men in Canada in the year 1871.”

In 2001, the researchers of this study complained that their work was being distorted by organizations like FRC.

Now wouldn't complaints by a study's author render it unusuable or a possible "outdated source?"

Apparently not to the Family Research Council.


Chapter 5 of Getting it Straight, Do Homosexual Parents Pose a Risk to Children, is interesting in that except for a few alterations (i.e. rearranging of text) it is identical to Homosexual Parenting: Placing Children at Risk - one of the studies FRC removed from its webpage claiming that it contained "outdated sources."

By that same token, chapter 6 of Getting It Straight, Is There a Link Between Homosexuality and Child Sexual Abuse? is a total rehash of Homosexuality and Child Abuse, yet another study that FRC removed from its page for having "outdated sources."

What's interesting about Homosexuality and Child Abuse is that a researcher cited in it, Nicholas Groth, sent a letter to FRC in 2002 complaining about how his work was being distorted to prove that gays molest children at a higher number that heterosexuals - something that his work found not to be true.

However, despite his complaint over five years ago, Groth's work is cited in Getting It Straight (pg. 123):

Another study found that “some authors now believe that boys may be sexually abused as commonly as girls (Groth, 1978; O’Brien, 1980).”

These are just a few of the things that I found. There so many other inaccuracies in these supposed credible studies. All of it makes one wonder just exactly is FRC's definition of an "outdated source."

And if I can take the question further - just what exactly is FRC's definition of truth and Christian principles?

It is ironic that while FRC head Tony Perkins pleads innocent ennui and criticizes lgbts for our supposed intolerance, his group engages in tactics that justify our position of anger.

Regardless of one's personal beliefs about homosexuality, no one should approve of FRC's deceptive tactics.

Hat tip to Emproph for sending me a link to FRC's "outdated" studies.

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Glenn T. Stanton is no expert

Focus on the Family staff member Glen Stanton was on Dr. Phil today on a program about transgender children. At one point, Stanton was billed as an "expert."

Now in Dr. Phil's defense, he pretty much allowed Stanton and the other guest, Joseph Nicolosi to cut their own throats. They had no idea what they were talking about and it showed. Also Dr. Phil gave the legitimate medical professional the final word in a one-on-one conversation; something that was very appropriate.

So all in all, I thought the show went well.

But I think in terms of religious right spokespeople, the word "expert" is used too much.

I looked into Stanton's background and found the following:

Glenn T. Stanton is the research fellow for global family formation at Focus on the Family in Colorado Springs. He is also directing a major research project on international family formation trends at the Institute of Marriage and Family in Ottawa. He debates and lectures extensively on the issues of gender, sexuality, marriage and parenting at universities and churches around the country. He recently served the Bush administration as a consultant on increasing fatherhood involvement in the Head Start program.

. . . A graduate of the University of West Florida, Glenn earned a master’s degree in interdisciplinary humanities with an emphasis in philosophy, history and religion. He has also taught in each of these disciplines.

All impressive but there is nothing that constitutes him to speak expertly on the issue of homosexuality.

That bothers me.

Other things bother me about Stanton.

According to Box Turtle Bulletin, last year, Stanton claimed that there’s a “clear consensus” among anthropologists that “A family is a unit that draws from the two types of humanity, male and female.”

The University of California at Irvine’s Anthropology Chair Bill Maurer and Associate Professor Tom Boellstorff as well as the American Anthropological Association all vehemently disagreed with this claim.

I have no idea how Stanton felt he was credentialed to speak for the anthropological community. Whatever the case, the rebuke put Stanton in the company of so many other religious right spokespeople who have been called to the carpet because of their distortion of legitimate studies, including his boss James Dobson.

And then I am bothered by a piece Stanton wrote called Why Homosexuality Falls Short of the Ideal. This passage especially gave me pause:

HIV is the most notable infection associated with homosexual sex and other promiscuous behaviors, but it is important to realize that this is only part of the problem. Professor Thomas Schmidt, in his excellent study of homosexuality, Straight & Narrow?, explains, "Doctors who work with homosexual men are now trained to look regularly for at least 15 common afflictions apart from HIV/AIDS and we could double or triple the number by taking into account less common problems."

The problem with this is that Thomas Schmidt, who is not a medical physician or researcher but a theologian, freely used the work of discredited researcher Paul Cameron in the book Stanton cited - Straight and Narrow? Compassion and clarity in the homosexual debate.

Proof of that is here:

6. About 80% of homosexual men engage in anal intercourse, and consequently suffer from a condition known to doctors as 'Gay Bowel syndrome'. This is a cocktail of physical trauma and a long list of infectious diseases. (Schmidt, p.108,109; F.R.I. report, "Medical Consequences...")

8. In the homosexual community as a whole, evidence of life-long faithful relationships is almost non-existent. One study showed 1%. (Schmidt, p.105-108; F.R.I. report "Same Sex Marriage")

22. While only a minority of homosexuals are paedophiles, male homosexual paedophilia is intensely active. Consequently approx. 80% of paedophilic victims are boys who are molested by adult males. (Schmidt, p.114; F.R.I. report. "Child Molestation and Homosexuality")

Editor's note - F.R.I. stands for Family Research Institute, the organization created and run by Paul Cameron.

What Stanton did is a clever trick propagated by religious right "experts" who are well aware of the flaws in Cameron's work - not citing Cameron directly but citing another person who originally cites Cameron.

Last year on this blog, I talked about how the Family Research Council has covertly removed the "studies" of its homosexuality expert Timothy Dailey from its webpage.

It seems that the same bit of chicanery may be going on with Focus on the Family and Glenn T. Stanton.

I first found Stanton's homosexuality paper on the webpage of the Palmetto Family Council. It said clearly that he was the author of the study.

However, on the Palmetto Family Council's new webpage, the study remains but Stanton's byline is gone.

In addition, I could not find the piece on the Focus on the Family webpage.

It just goes to show that one unfortunate aspects of this so-called cultural war is how anyone with a religious testimony and/or a phony organization with an official sounding name can suddenly be considered to know more about homosexuality than us who are lgbt.

From Linda Harvey to Janet Folger Porter to Timothy Dailey to Matt Barber to Peter LaBarbera to Glenn T. Stanton - the list goes on and on. and they are all phonies.

Let me clarify one fact. I don't have a problem with these folks entering the conversation on lgbts, gender identity or the like. I have a problem with their audacity and their lack of honesty. Often times, these individuals have no desire to be objective. They already have a preconceived religious beliefs which they manipulate science, facts, and common sense to adhere to.

They are not experts and they don't need to be called such.

The problem is that talk shows like Dr. Phil won't vet these people. They just book them on the show as "experts," which gives them undeserved credibility. And all under the guise of "seeing both sides of the issue."

In the long run, it's up to the lgbt community to make the noise and expose these charlatans.

We need to put a serious kibosh their lies by challenging their credentials, or lack of credentials, and their shoddy workmanship at every turn.