Tuesday, May 30, 2017

'It Gets Better' disputed, religious right overdoes celebration

Dan Savage
Dan Savage's monumental "It Gets Better" campaign recently fell under scrutiny via a study which questions its effectiveness.

According to LOGO Newnownext:

The It Gets Better projects was launched by Dan Savage and Terry Miller in 2010, in response to a chilling number of suicides by LGBT teens facing bullying. Sine then, it’s added more than 50,000 videos from people of all walks of life.

But a new study suggests imagining a better future may not be an ideal coping mechanism for struggling teens—and may, in fact, do more harm than good. University of Arizona professor Russell Toomey and his team examined profiles of 245 lesbian, gay and bisexual (LGB) young adults to see how they coped with sexual-minority stress during adolescence. Three common strategies emerged: Cognitive strategies (the “It Gets Better” approach), alternative-seeking strategies (changing social circles or schools), and “LGB-specific” strategies (joining a gay-straight alliance). Young people who sought out LGB-specific strategies reported better psychosocial adjustment and were more likely to graduate high school. Cognitive and alternative-seeking strategies were associated with poorer adjustment, higher incidents of depression and lower self-esteem. Alternative-seeking strategies were even linked to lower likelihood of finishing high school. “Our findings question the ’It Gets Better’ narrative that’s been given to LGB youth,” said Toomey. “Asking youth to accept negative experiences as the only coping strategy potentially exacerbates stress.” 

 Personally,I think the study's premise presents an inaccurately simplistic view of the 'It Gets Better"  campaign. Regardless, it is a fascinating twist which will no doubt lead to debates, arguments, and unfortunately, groups and individuals who will  exploit the study to push their own anti-lgbtq agenda.

No need to cue  hate group The Family Research Council on that point. The group is already on top of the news with so much glee, one could practically imagine poisonous saliva dripping from the keyboard of whoever wrote the following:

After a survey of 245 teens who call themselves gay or bisexual, Professor Russell Toomey found that "Cognitive-based strategies, such as the 'It Gets Better' approach, were associated with poorer adjustment and less likelihood of high school attainment." In fact, he went on, "Our findings question the 'It Gets Better' narrative that's been given to LGB youth. Asking youth to accept negative experiences as the only coping strategy potentially exacerbates stress."

Obviously, FRC is opposed to bullying for any reason. But people like Dan Savage are putting so much attention on homosexuality that it's actually preventing society from dealing with the real problems of bullying. Even liberal surveys show that "students are more often bullied, called names, or harassed because of 'the way they look or their body size' than because of their sexual orientation." Russell's findings grabbed plenty of headlines, especially in liberal circles. But interestingly enough, the Left didn't rush to defend Savage. Queerty, an LGBT website, let the study speak for itself. "It gets better ... Or does it? Study finds anti-bullying catch phrase may do more harm than good."

The Stream's Tom Gilson thinks it's significant that Savage's own community isn't rallying to his side. "[G]ays, lesbians, and their allies have a history of battling science that doesn't support their agenda," he writes. "Their usual claim is that the research is 'flawed.' (George Yancey wrote on this recently for The Stream.) For some reason they didn't do that this time. Instead they're practically throwing Savage under the bus... Have they perhaps noticed his extreme profanity and his blatant hypocrisy, along with his failed promises of life getting better? Are they embarrassed by Dan Savage? They certainly should be."

The idea that we have supposedly deserted Savage and the 'It Gets Better' campaign is highly laughable, but it will no doubt be the talking point of the homophobic right. They are pushing it while fully aware that, with the news coming out as recent as last week, many of us aren't even aware of the study.

And I take serious umbrage with that ridiculous The Stream author Tom Gilson for claiming that lgbtqs dispute science which supposedly don't support our "agenda." I would remind Gilson - and the Family Research Council  - that it wasn't us who for years spread the studies of  the discredited researcher Paul Cameron; a man who once claimed that gay men stuffed gerbils up their rears. That was folks on their side of the spectrum. In addition, lgbtqs have not been accused of distorting legitimate research a large number of times. Again, the groups like FRC and folks like Gilson were the guilty parties.

Also, I noticed that while these parties are practically bending over backwards to write Savage's credibility epitaph, they are ignoring the portion of the study which says lgbtq youth who take part in groups such as gay/straight alliance clubs in high schools tend to have more success coping with societal homophobia.

They were so busy attempting to intellectually bushwhack Savage that they probably failed to notice.


Frank said...

Oh, they noticed,(the fact that social support leads to positive outcomes) but of course, it does not "support THEIR agenda" so it wouldn't get mentioned.

Abby said...

Prof. Toomey explained to The Atlantic that much of the reporting on his study is missing the nuance of the study's results with respect to the It's Gets Better project: https://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2017/05/how-to-really-help-gay-teens/528399/