Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Religious right 'Day of Truth' peddles same old lies to youth

April is here which means it's time again for the Day of Silence (April 16), the event held by GLSEN in which participating high school students nationwide do not talk during an entire school day in protest of the problems faced by lgbt students.

It's also time again for religious right groups to push their sad counterpart, Day of Truth, in which other students are encouraged to dissuade the supposed gay agenda.

Let's be honest. The Day of Silence has been a huge success every year while the Day of Truth has been a flop. I guess this is a case where the young has more sense than adults when it comes to accepting their lgbt peers.

So this year, the Day of Truth seems to have gone through a change in an attempt to seem hip and appeal to the young.

Its webpage is really cute and there seems to be a "we just want to start a conversation" vibe going on.

And of course there is that semantic claim that the Day of Truth preaches true tolerance for "those who make not agree with the homosexual agenda."

But don't be fooled. Like all other vestiges of the religious right, the Day of Truth is peddling inaccurate information about the lgbt community and the majority of it is contained in its resource guide page.

There is a pdf file from written by "Mike," a supposedly former gay young man, called Homosexuality isn't the answer. This is some of the things he says:

Many researchers have studied how gay-identified people live. The research has convinced me that embracing homosexuality is not the satisfying dream-come-true that society makes it out to be, even for those who are exclusively attracted to the same sex. Let’s look at how.

Research has shown that many gay-identified men, over their lifetime, have a lot of partners. In the 1980’s, two researchers named Mattison and McWhirter studied 156 male couples over a period of five years. Out of all these couples, only seven claimed that they were sexually monogamous while they were together, and none of these were long-term. Of the couples who stayed together more than 5 years, none were monogamous.

And this isn’t biased research from a religious or conservative group. Mattison and McWhirter were openly gay men.

It's interesting that a young man would have the gumption to look up a study that was published in 1984.  It's also interesting that "Mike" referred to the Mattison and McWhirter study without mentioning the part in which they said their work couldn't be considered an adequate representation of all gay couples:

“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.”

"Mike" also says:

More recently, in 2003 a Canadian professor named Barry Adam released a study about gay men. He reported that only 25% of the men he interviewed claimed to have been in monogamous relationships at some point, and these were mostly younger men in relationships shorter than three years.

Of course "Mike" omits several things about the study. According to a Washington Blade article:

Adam recruited the men for his study through ads in gay publications and leaflets distributed at gay organizations and bars in Ontario. To qualify for the study, the men had to be in a relationship for at least a year. The relationship of one couple spanned 23 years.

The sample of 70 men - including both members of 10 couples and 50 other men - included 41 Caucasians, 16 Asians, five men from African and Caribbean descent, seven Latinos and one Canadian Aboriginal.

The article also says:

Adam's research team did not calculate the average length of non-monogamous relationships. It was not clear if partners became non-monogamous over time, or if they agreed to be in an open relationship from the beginning, Adam said.

The study sample was diverse but may not be representative of gay men as a whole, because "genuinely random samples of gay and bisexual men are virtually unachievable," Adam said.
I doubt that "Mike" is who he says he is. Most likely, he is a Day of Truth staffer dressing up distorted studies as a "personal story of freedom from homosexuality."

Another Day of Truth resource is the pdf file Homosexuality FAQ sheet. This faq sheet seems to be a scaled down version of an old Day of Truth paper called  The Ten Biggest Myths of Homosexual Behavior.  But it still contains many distortions Allow me to point out a few:

Distortion 1 :

Can homosexuals change?

Yes. Advocates of homosexual behaviors will often tout the fact that the APA removed homosexuality from its list of disorders. But Dr. Robert L. Spitzer, who was part of that decision, has done some research that has changed his mind. “Contrary to conventional wisdom,” Spitzer said, “some highly motivated individuals, using a variety of change efforts, can make substantial change in multiple indicators of sexual orientation and achieve good heterosexual functioning.”

I've touched on the Spitzer lie more times than I can count but as long as the religious right continues to repeat it, I will continue to clarify.

In 2001, psychologist Robert Spitzer published a controversial study that seemed to claim that small number of people can change their orientation from gay to heterosexual.

In 45-minute individual telephone calls with 143 “ex-gays” and 57 “ex-lesbians,” Spitzer asked them 60 questions dealing with their feelings and behavior before and after they allegedly changed their orientations. They also talked about their strategies, feelings and motives for changing. Many of these individuals were referred to Spitzer by “ex-gay” groups.

When Spitzer’s findings were made public, the anti-gay industry lauded him, making sure to mention that he was one of the principle people who led the American Psychiatric Association’s 1973 decision to remove homosexuality from its list of mental illnesses.

Spitzer himself went on record declaring that he was “appalled” at how his work was being simplified. He also published a column in the May 23, 2001 edition of The Wall Street Journal. He said that “complete change is uncommon.”

In addition, in a 2006 interview with the Los Angeles Times, Spitzer said that he now believes that some of those he interviewed for his study may have been either lying to him or themselves. - Ex-Gays Seek a Say in Schools, Los Angeles Times, May 28, 2006

Distortion 2:

Why shouldn’t we support same-sex “marriage” and adoption?

Some believe that it would be okay to allow same-sex “marriage,” and this is based on the belief that homosexual relationships are equal to heterosexual ones. This is not true, and there are moral, social, and medical reasons why homosexual behavior should not be affirmed by the allowance of same-sex “marriage.”

In the Journal of Sex Research, more than 2,500 older homosexual males were surveyed and only 2.7 percent of them even claimed to have had sex with only one partner. The study also showed that 43 percent of the men had had more than 500 partners in their lifetime, and 28 percent had over 1,000. In Western Sexuality: Practice and Precept in past and Present Times, M. Pollak found that “few homosexual relationships last longer than two years, with many men reporting hundreds of lifetime partners.”

Two questions  need to be asked here. Were the gays in these studies married? And did they have families with children? If not, then this is a comparison of apples and oranges.

Especially when one takes into account that the Journal of Sex Research study included homosexual men in other countries. More than three quarters of men were born in Australia or New Zealand (78.1%), a high number of the men were from United Kingdom or elsewhere in Europe (19.5%) and a small percentage of men surveyed were from other countries (Asia, Africa, Oceania, North, Central or South America—2.3%). Meaning, of course, that it is hardly representative of gay men in the United States.(I covered this in my book Holy Bullies and Headless Monsters)

And there is something strange about that Pollak citation. I've read it in several other religious right studies but in those papers, it contains this interesting caveat - M. Pollak, "Male homosexuality," in western sexuality: practice and precept in past and present times, ed. P. Aries and A. Bejin, translated by Anthony Forster (New York, NY: B. Blackwell, 1985), pp. 40-61, cited by Joseph Nicolosi in Reparative Therapy of Male Homosexuality (Northvale, New Jersey: Jason Aronson Inc., 1991), pp. 124, 125.

Joseph Nicolosi is a man who has made it his life's work to peddle the inaccurate notion that homosexuality is a changeable condition. According to the site Truth Wins Out:

Nicolosi is also known for his strange theories, such as encouraging his male clients to drink Gatorade and call friends “dude” to become more masculine. He also believes that “Non-homosexual men who experience defeat and failure may also experience homosexual fantasies or dreams.”

And thus, it is possible that the Day of Truth sheet is being intentionally inaccurate by making it seem that Pollak made that statement about gay couples rather than the words being a citation of Pollak's work by a man with an anti-gay bias.

Distortion 3: - From the same section on gay marriage and adoption:

The Centers for Disease Control have found that 60 percent of new cases of HIV infection are men who have had sex with men, and also that the number of homosexual men who admittedly neglect to use condoms is rising. Homosexual victims of AIDS, they found, had an average 1,100 sexual partners in their lifetimes. They estimated that 30 percent of 20-year-old homosexual men will be HIV positive or dead before they reach their thirtieth birthday.

Now the sheet doesn't say where it received this citation but I am sure that the CDC citation is not accurate. In 2005, Ronald Valdiserri, the deputy director of the CDC's National Center for HIV, STD, and TB Prevention, said the following:

“[The CDC] does not collect statistics on the life span of gay men. While gay men continue to be severely impacted by HIV and AIDS, AIDS-related death data cannot be used to indicate that homosexual men live shorter lives than heterosexual men overall.” - Weird anti-gay science, The Washington Blade, June 17, 2005

Distortion 4 - Still in the same section about gay marriage and adoption:

In an article entitled “Intimate Violence in Lesbian Relationships,” Guat Yong Lie and Sabrina Gentlewarrier reported that out of 1099 lesbians who they surveyed, “more than half of the women reported that they had been abused by a female lover/partner.”

Again a study having nothing to do with children in same sex households. The original study was conducted in 1985 at a Michigan Women’s Music Festival. According to a reviewer of the study, Suzana Rose, Ph.D., of the 1099 lesbians participants, most were white and between the ages of 20-45. - Intimate Violence in Lesbian Relationships: Discussion of Survey Findings and Practice Implications, Journal of Social Science Research, 1991

Distortion 5 - in the same section about gay marriage and adoption:

The Archives of General Psychiatry found that men and women practicing homosexual behavior were at much higher risk than heterosexuals for having emotional problems including suicidal thoughts, clinical depression and anxiety disorder, conduct disorder and nicotine dependence. A New Zealand study which followed over a thousand people from birth found that the 28 of these individuals who identified as gay, lesbian or bisexual were significantly more likely to have had mental health problems than those who were heterosexual.

In January of last year, I emailed the author of the study, Theo Sandfort. At that time, Regina Griggs of the anti-gay group PFOX was using it for incorrect purposes. This is what he 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.

 If these distortions in the Day of Truth's homosexuality faq sheet sound familiar to those who read my blog, you are not suffering from deja vu. It seems that the organizers of the Day of Truth have used the same set of lies and misused statistics which I have talked about on several occasions when they were used by other religious right groups. I've analyzed them here and here amongst other places.

That's the core of the religious right argument against lgbts. They either take legitimate studies and twist them for their own purposes or just rely on the bad science of people like Paul Cameron.

The creators of the Day of Truth are no different. The sad thing is that this time these lies are directed towards our lgbt children.

The creators of the Day of Truth want to make people think that they truly care for students who are struggling with their lgbt orientation.

The very fact that they would push bad information as accurate resources makes that thought a serious oxymoron.

Go here to support The Day of Silence and our lgbt children.

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1 comment:

Marlene said...

The religious reicht hasn't had an original thought in hundreds of years!

All of their response to the TLBG community has been to mimic legitimate TLBG groups in a vain attempt to legitimize their hate and bigotry.

We have pride marches, they have the March for Christ.

We have PFLAG, they have PFOX.

We have the Day of Silence, they have the Day of "Truth".

We have the Transgender Day of Remembrance, and I won't be surprised if they begin a Day of Remembrance to remember the "martyrs" who were murdered for invading a foreign society and trying to shove their Bronze Age mores on another culture.