Monday, July 02, 2012

Anti-gay study another chapter in history of religious right distortions

In what should be front page news on a vast majority of lgbtq publications and blogs, as well as mainstream publications (but for some reason isn't), over 200 professors and therapists took the unusual step of calling out a recently published study by Mark Regnerus of the University of Texas which challenges the notion that gay parenting is equal to heterosexual parenting.

The letter (seen here) signed by these professors and therapists called into question the study's credibility due to it's funding, poor methodology, and suspiciously short process it took Social Science Research (where the study was published) to review it prior to publication.

At the heart of the letter is the suspicion that from day one, this study was bought, paid for, and pushed by individuals who seek to not only curtail marriage equality, but gay equality in general under the guise of scientific legitimacy.

This controversy, which has been brewing since the study was announced in early June, is far from over. But for those interested in such things, it shines a light on what I have repeatedly called an overlooked  scandal in the fight over gay equality.

Over a number of years, there has been a tendency on the part of religious right and supposedly pro-family groups to either distort legitimate science in their pursuit of hindering gay rights.

There have been a number of researchers and professors who have had to openly complain as to how these supposedly Christian groups and their spokespeople distort their work in order to demonize the lgbtq community and prove a false theory that homosexuality is a "dangerous lifestyle."

They include:

National Institute of Health director Francis Collins, who rebuked the right-wing American College of Pediatricians for falsely claiming that he stated sexual orientation is not hardwired by DNA.

Six researchers of a 1997 Canadian study (Robert S. Hogg, Stefan A. Strathdee, Kevin J.P. Craib, Michael V. Shaughnessy, Julio Montaner, and Martin T. Schehter), who complained in 2001 that religious right groups were distorting their work to claim that gay men have a short life span.

The authors of the book Unequal Opportunity: Health Disparities Affecting Gay and Bisexual Men in the United States (Professors Richard J. Wolitski, Ron Stall, and Ronald O. Valdiserri), who complained that their work was being distorted by Focus on the Family.

University College London professor Michael King, who complained that the American Family Association was distorting his work on depression and suicide in LGBT individuals

University of Utah professor Lisa Diamond, who complained that NARTH (the National Association of Research and Therapy of Homosexuality), a group which also share board members with the American College of Pediatricians, distorted her research on sexual orientation.

Dr. Carol Gilligan, Professor of Education and Law at New York University, who complained that former Focus on the Family head James Dobson misrepresented her research to attack lgbtq families.

Dr. Kyle Pruett, Ph.D., a professor of child psychiatry at the Yale School of Medicine, who has also complained that Focus on the Family distorted his work.

Dr. Robert Spitzer, Professor of Psychiatry at Columbia University, who has consistently complained that religious right groups distorted his study to claim that the LGBT orientation is easily changeable. Earlier this year, Spitzer not only retracted his study but apologized for conducting it.

 Judith Stacey, Professor of Sociology at New York University, who has had to, on more than one occasion, cry foul over how religious right groups distorted her work on lgbtq families.

Greg Remafedi, Professor  at the University of Minnesota, who has complained several times about how religious right groups such as the American College of Pediatricians and PFOX have distorted his work, all to no avail. The American College of Pediatricians refused his request to remove his work from their site.

In 2010, John Horgan, a science journalist and Director of the Center for Science Writings at the Stevens Institute of Technology, became yet another professor to complain about how religious right groups were distorting his work.

Earlier this year, Seton Hall professor Dr. Theodora Sirota complained that Rick Fitzgibbons of NARTH (the National Association of Research and Therapy of Homosexuality) misused her work to make the case that children in same sex households are not raised better than children "in stable homes with a mother and a father."

In addition, there have been other cases in which religious right groups and their spokespeople have freely played the "sin of omission," i.e. citing a study to criticize the gay community while either omitting the fact that the study had nothing to do with the gay community or deliberately omitting details in said study which destroys their theory that "negative behaviors" such as drug and alcohol abuse are indicative of the gay community instead of the result of the homophobia thrown at the gay community.

Maggie Gallagher of the National Organization for Marriage committed this grievance in 2010 by misrepresenting a study of abused children.

Peter Sprigg of the Family Research Council committed the same intentional faux pas also in 2010 by citing two studies, neither having anything to do with same-sex households. This isn't the only time Sprigg has committed the "sin of omission." Sprigg has committed that offense in studies and papers such as:

Getting It Straight: What the Research Shows About Homosexuality ,

The Top Ten Harms of Same Sex Marriage,

Federal Report Confirms 'Nuclear Family' Best for Children's Health

His piece, The Top Ten Myths about Homosexuality demonstrates a specific example of Sprigg's sleight-of-hand behavior. Check out this passage:

Even the pro-homosexual Gay & Lesbian Medical Association (GLMA) acknowledges:

• “Gay men use substances at a higher rate than the general population . . .”
• “Depression and anxiety appear to affect gay men at a higher rate . . . .”
• “ . . . [G]ay men have higher rates of alcohol dependence and abuse . . . .”
• “ . . . [G]ay men use tobacco at much higher rates than straight men . . . .”
• “Problems with body image are more common among gay men . . . and gay men are much more likely to experience an eating disorder . . . .”

The GLMA also confirms that:

• “ . . . [L]esbians may use tobacco and smoking products more often than heterosexual women use them.”
• “Alcohol use and abuse may be higher among lesbians.”
• “ . . . [L]esbians may use illicit drugs more often than heterosexual women.”

Homosexual activists generally attempt to explain these problems as results of “homophobic discrimination.” However, there is a serious problem with that theory—there is no empirical evidence that such psychological problems are greater in areas where disapproval of homosexuality is more intense.

Now compare what Sprigg said as opposed to what GMLA actually:


“Depression and anxiety appear to affect gay men at a higher rate . . . .”


Depression and anxiety appear to affect gay men at a higher rate than in the general population. The likelihood of depression or anxiety may be greater, and the problem may be more severe for those men who remain in the closet or who do not have adequate social supports. Adolescents and young adults may be at particularly high risk of suicide because of these concerns.


“ . . . [L]esbians may use illicit drugs more often than heterosexual women.


Research indicates that lesbians may use illicit drugs more often than heterosexual women. This may be due to added stressors in lesbian lives from discrimination. Lesbians need support from each other and from health care providers to find healthy releases, quality recreation, stress reduction, and coping techniques.

The sad fact of the matter is that these examples probably only scratch the surface. The even sadder fact is the tendency of the religious right to distort legitimate science has yet to become part of the wider conversation about gay equality.

And it should because if the religious right is deliberately lying in order to make their case against gay equality, what does it say about their actual integrity? What does it say about their truth faith in their religion if they have to stoop to lies in order to defend its tenets? What does it say about their love of God if they to spew lies and distorts out of one mouth while talking God's salvation from the other?
At the very least, one thing is for sure. As long as these facts are not included in mainstream discussions of gay rights, the gay community will continue to be put on the defensive by phony studies and false claims.

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1 comment:

Donny D. said...

Alvin, THANK YOU for keeping on this.