Category archives: Human Sexuality

Research on “Sexting” from the Medical Institute

by Moira Gaul

May 30, 2009

The May 2009 newsletter from the Medical Institute contains valuable information for parents about “Sexting” - meaning the posting or sending of sexually suggestive electronic images and messages:

A recent survey of a nationally representative sample of 653 teens, aged 13 to 19, and 627 young adults, aged 20 to 26, compiles information on ‘sexting.’ The survey reported that one in five teens and one in three young adults have sent or posted semi-nude or nude images of themselves in cyberspace. Half of the teens and young adults have sent or posted sexually suggestive messages. This trend is surprising since nearly 3/4 of teens and young adults acknowledged that sending such images and messages “can have serious negative consequences.” The most commonly listed negative consequences were regret (79%), potential embarrassment (73%), bad reputation (69%), and disappointing family (57%).

This edition of the Medical Institute’s newsletter also discusses new research underscoring previous research findings that sexual activity in adolescents is influenced by what they watch on TV. Read the whole thing.

No Softening on Gay Judges

by Peter Sprigg

May 13, 2009

Pro-homosexual activist groups like Lambda Legal began pressing President Obama, even before he was inaugurated, to appoint homosexuals as federal judges, and now that there is a Supreme Court vacancy, the possibility of the first “openly gay or lesbian” Supreme Court justice is being discussed in the media and (intensely) in the blogosphere.

Comments by Sen. Jeff Sessions, by a spokesman for Focus on the Family, and by me, suggesting that a history of same-sex attractions would not necessarily, automatically, and a priori disqualify a candidate for the court led a blogger for Politico to ask, “Is [the] right softening on gay judges?”

In that piece, Josh Gerstein contrasted recent comments by Focus on the Family judicial analyst Bruce Hausknecht with a quote of mine from an article about homosexual judges at the state level that appeared in USA Today in 2006. That article quoted me this way:

We don’t accept that homosexuality is any kind of cultural identity that should be sought in a judge,” says Peter Sprigg of the Family Research Council, a conservative advocacy group in Washington, D.C., that opposes same-sex marriage. “We think it’s a behavior, not something that should be held up as a role model.”

That comment has been held up as somehow being in conflict with my comments last week to Jake Tapper of ABC News:

Peter Sprigg, a senior fellow at the conservative Family Research Council, says that “the real issue would not be the person’s private life but the issue would be would they be imposing their personal ideology upon the court. In this case would they be imposing a pro homosexual ideology, a pro-same sex marriage ideology.”

It’s also been contrasted with what I told a blogger, Greg Sargent, who is affiliated with the Washington Post:

We don’t think that the process of selecting a Supreme Court justice should include asking questions about a person’s personal sex life,” Peter Sprigg, senior fellow at the Family Research Council, told me moments ago.

But if a person does publicly identify as gay or lesbian, or particularly if a person has been involved with homosexual rights activism at any level, then there would have to be serious questions asked about whether he or she would impose a pro-gay ideology on the court.”

Sprigg added that homosexuality in and of itself would not be a “determinant” against the acceptability of the nominee.

I didn’t even remember the USA Today interview until I saw it quoted, so I went back and reviewed it. The problem with the ostensibly more “hard-line” quote is that those quoting it did not mention that it came immediately after this statement by the reporter:

The effort by gay rights groups to increase the number of openly gay state and local judges has drawn criticism.

Three years later, I remain fully convinced that homosexuality can never be viewed as a positive characteristic in a judge (or in anyone else), so I fully stand by my position that no one should ever be appointed as a judge because they identify as “gay.”

However, those who identified my comments this year as a change in tone from the 2006 interview apparently did not read that article all the way through-since it ended with this:

[G]ay-rights groups … aim to create a “farm team” of judges who could be in position for the federal bench if future presidents are willing to appoint such judges.

Sprigg says his group would fight such an effort. But he says gay judges are acceptable to his group - as long as their sexual orientation isn’t a factor in their work.

We don’t think we should make an issue of it, if they keep it private,” he says. “If we had reason to believe that they would pursue a pro-homosexual agenda, then we would vigorously oppose them.”

Some of the bloggers commenting on this story have failed to make the distinction between saying conservatives “would not automatically disqualify” a homosexual candidate and saying conservatives “could support” one. The statements about not disqualifying a candidate simply reflect the fact that we believe even Supreme Court nominees deserve some zone of privacy, and acknowledge that there is at least a hypothetical possibility that somewhere in the country there is a judge who has experienced same-sex attractions, but who also respects judicial restraint and the original intent of the Constitution.

In the real world, however, the chances of finding a highly-qualified judge who fits both of those descriptions are probably about equal to the chances of a camel passing through the eye of a needle. So don’t hold your breath waiting for social conservatives to “support” a “gay” judicial nominee.

Matthew Shepard’s Brutal Murder—No “Hoax,” But No “Hate Crime”

by Peter Sprigg

May 1, 2009

Rep. Virginia Foxx (R-NC) has admitted making a “poor choice of words,” during House debate on a “hate crimes” bill on April 29, when she used the word “hoax” in connection with the 1998 murder of a homosexual Wyoming college student, Matthew Shepard.

Here’s what she actually said:

We know that young man was killed in the commitment of a robbery. It wasn’t because he was gay. The bill was named for him, the hate crimes bill was named for him, but it’s really a hoax that continues to be used as an excuse for passing these bills.”

It should be clear to anyone remotely familiar with the Shepard murder or the hate crimes issue that she was not claiming that Shepard never existed or that his murder was a “hoax,” but only that it’s classification as an anti-gay “hate crime” was a “hoax.” Nevertheless, she was mocked as roughly the equivalent of a Holocaust denier.

Yesterday, Foxx explained, appropriately, that she was not trying to minimize the horror or brutality of Shepard’s murder in any way. “Mr. Shepard’s death was nothing less than a tragedy, and those responsible for his death certainly deserved the punishment they received.”

Some people, however, may still not be aware of the basis for Rep. Foxx’s claim that classifying this brutal attack as a “hate crime” is inaccurate. I explained it in a 2007 op-ed in the Washington Times:

The ultimate irony in all this is that Matthew Shepard’s death was probably not a “hate crime” at all. A courageous investigative report by ABC’s 20/20, which they unfortunately buried on the day after Thanksgiving [November 26] in 2004, revealed that most of the people most closely involved in the case say that the attack on Matthew Shepard was motivated by robbery and driven by drugs - not by hostility toward Matthew Shepard’s homosexuality. If he was specifically targeted, it may have been because he was small (only 105 pounds) and well-dressed - not because he was a homosexual.

When asked about the proof that it was a “hate crime,” Cal Rerucha, who prosecuted the case, declared, “Well, I don’t think the proof was there… That was something that they [friends of Shepard] had decided.” Ben Fritzen, a former police detective, said, “Matthew Shepard’s sexual preference or sexual orientation certainly wasn’t the motive in the homicide… What it came down to, really, is drugs and money.”

McKinney’s girlfriend, Kristen Price, said, “I knew that night it was all about getting money… Money to get drugs.” McKinney himself, talking for the first time (he did not testify at his trial), told ABC’s Elizabeth Vargas that “it wasn’t a hate crime… [A]ll I wanted to do was beat him up and rob him.” In fact, McKinney said, “I have gay friends. … You know, that kind of thing don’t bother me so much.”

Wyoming had no “hate crimes” law. But that didn’t stop Shepard’s killers, Aaron McKinney and Russell Henderson, from being sentenced to two consecutive life sentences, after being spared the death penalty only because Shepard’s parents interceded against it.

So it’s hard to argue that a “hate crimes” law would have made much difference-even if it had been a “hate crime.”

Call to NPR in Los Angeles; Customers Misusing Plan B

by Chris Gacek

April 29, 2009

     Last week, the Obama Administration announced that it would not appeal a federal district court’s decision commanding the FDA to begin selling the Plan B contraceptive to 17-year-olds as an over-the-counter product.  Previously, the FDA and drug company set the lower age at 18.   Plan B’s  manufacturer-distributor, Teva, will have to submit an application to FDA which the agency will then approve.

     As we noted last week, the Family Research Council has been concerned that women might use Plan B frequently, repeatedly in the place of standard contraceptives.  The labeling contains no clear warning about such use.  FDA officials have pooh-poohed this argument, but one interesting anecdotal piece of evidence has come in on this topic.

     The changes to Plan B marketing were discussed on “AirTalk,” a public radio program broadcast by KPCC-FM, a station owned by Pasadena City College on April 23rd.  The guest-host was David Lazarus of the Los Angeles Times, and he interviewed Dr. Susan Woods, former FDA official and Plan B supporter, and Wendy Wright, president of Concerned Women for America.  The show can be heard via this weblink.

     There was one extremely interesting caller who was referred to as “Steve from Diamond Bar.” (Steve start: 22min 05sec; Steve end: 23min 05sec.)  Steve is a co-owner of a pharmacy, and he explained that a few years ago 30-minute consultations were needed before the pharmacists could dispense Plan B over-the-counter in California. 

     Steve had occasion to notice the buying patterns of his customers.  He noted that many purchasers were responsible about using Plan B, but he also described a class of customer who came to the store “on a regular basis” and purchased Plan B “week after week.”  When David Lazarus asked him whether the repeat users “were a majority or minority of users,” Steve responded that they were probably half of the Plan B purchasers.
 
     Even if Steve from Diamond Bar did not remember correctly and inflated his estimate, it is clear that a substantial population of Plan B users were using this drug very frequently - as many have feared.

Who’s the Real Bully?

by Robert Morrison

March 18, 2009

President Obama’s omnibus spending bill contains many odd line items. Here’s one: $1.2 billion for what the bill calls “anti-bullying” curricula. One may wonder when it became the federal government’s responsibility to protect our children from the schoolyard bullies. In my long ago high school, the Boys’ Leaders Club stopped bullies from even getting started. And if they didn’t succeed, there was always Mr. Martinell’s “board of education,” firmly applied to the seat of the pants.

Ever since the horror of Columbine High School in 1999, and the mass murders on campus at Virginia Tech several years ago, worried parents have been trying to find answers to why some students “snap” and attack their classmates with murderous violence.

 

In some cases, it may be because they’ve been taunted, teased, bullied. But what has been a perennial parental concern about schoolyard violence has now been hijacked by the gay lobby. The Human Rights Campaign (HRC), the huge Washington, D.C.-based gay lobbying outfit has initiated a campaign to have our public schools declare themselves Welcoming Schools. In the pursuit of this warm welcome, HRC wants all schools in America to affirm the gay lifestyle.

Part of the “anti-bullying” curriculum HRC is touting nationwide has been the assignment of such books as “Sissy Duckling” and “King and King.” “Sissy Duckling” is described as a book whose “characters challenge gender norms.” “King and King” features one young prince charming who fails to find an eligible princess and pledges his troth instead to another man.

A column by Katherine Kersten in The Minneapolis Star-Tribune exposes the real agenda behind these so-called anti-bullying curricula. Mrs. Kersten points out that the Welcoming Schools program hardly addresses the traditional targets of schoolyard bullies-kids of a different race or ethnicity, kids who are undersized, overfed, and that staple of child antagonism, kids who wear glasses. Instead, the curriculum is heavily weighted on the subjects of anti-gay, anti-lesbian stereotypes

There should not even be a bullying problem in Minneapolis. Don’t these kids listen to Garrison Keillor’s Prairie Home Companion? Whatever became of “Minnesota Nice?”

Mrs. Kersten quotes a parent from Minneapolis’ Hale (elementary) School. Arbuc Flomo is with the Coalition for Parents’ Rights. Mr. Flomo says the curriculum is “a direct slap in parents’ faces.” Flomo cites examples of the curriculum’s typical style of instruction: “I used to think, but now I know…” Every “now I know” statement rejects what parents teach and affirms the new politically correct lessons. Mr. Flomo sees the curriculum as an assault on the parents’ moral code.

In one rigged “exercise,” first graders are instructed to put together a puzzle to form families. Except they can’t form traditional units of Mom, Dad, and children. They are forced to form families with same-sex adults and their children. “Students will find that they must create some families with adults of the same gender.”

Notice the must. This is not education. It’s heavy-handed indoctrination. The Hale School principal, Bob Brancale, said the Welcoming Schools curriculum would be implemented “regardless of the personal issues of parents or staff.” Remember when we learned that principal was spelled with an “a” because the school principal was your pal? Whatever became of school administrators as public servants?

These impressionable little children are supposed to repeat the received wisdom from their anti-bullying instructors. And what if they resist? Is there a better definition of bullying than this? Here we see paid agents of the state forcing kids to regurgitate the approved liberal line on homosexuality. The kids are in that classroom by force of law. Mandatory attendance laws govern their presence in those classrooms unless their parents can afford private schools or unless they have the courage, determination, and the time to home school.

Barack and Michelle Obama have just placed their darling girls in Sidwell Friends, a very tony private school in Washington, D.C. At the same time he sends his girls to school in a 10-car caravan with Secret Service protection, the President is allowing Congress to cut the D.C. Opportunity Scholarships-vouchers—that have allowed some 1,700 Washington poor kids to attend private schools in the nation’s capital. But don’t worry, when two of those poor kids have to leave Sidwell Friends, they’ll have a nice, welcoming, gay-indoctrinating public school to attend instead. And if they still have to worry about real schoolyard bullies, maybe the Obamas will invite their children’s former classmates over to play on the new White House playground.

In Ogden’s case, pornography is incompatible with Justice

by Pat Fagan

February 6, 2009

As the research shows, frequent use of pornography distorts the perception of social realities in gender relations, weakens and frequently destroys marriages, has deleterious effects on children and ultimately undermines the sexual capacities of those who become addicted to it.

Not only is it indefensible as an industry, rather it should be severely contained and suppressed because of its effects on family, children and adults. David Ogden’s connections to the pornography industry preclude his ability to serve in the Department of Justice.

Why does Planned Parenthood hate family planning that creates families

by Family Research Council

February 2, 2009

In responding (as I was asked to) to Steven Waldman’s posting on Beliefnet.com it is easy to know where to start. It would be at the original title, “Why Pro-lifers Hate Family Planning,” which can be described mildly as inflammatory. It has since been changed to “Why Many Pro-lifers Oppose Family Planning,” which, at best, is less rabble-rousing. Taken with the rest of the post one could easily draw the conclusion that supporting family planning can only be defined as supporting taxpayer funding of condoms. But what of abstinence? Or natural family planning? While many religions are opposed to condoms, there are a few who are not, however still religious organizations are pretty active on family planning - be it pregnancy care centers, churches with abstinence and pre-marital and marital counseling, abstinence programs, etc. Most religious conservatives, in my opinion, are more unified in opposing federal involvement. With sheckles come shackles.

The rest of the post does seem to try to draw a balance, though I do disagree with the premise “that there is evidence that government financed family planning does reduce abortions” - which seems to have at its base a quote from Planned Parenthood’s research arm, the Guttmacher Institute. However Guttmacher’s own numbers seem to dispute their quote. Many major cities have been seeing an increase of both pregnancy and abortion, despite also having liberal rules and regulations on family planning. Take New York City, which has liberalized sex education and even has its own brand of condom. In New York State 1/3 of the pregnancies result in induced abortion. Additionally the state rate of abortions per 1,000 women of reproductive age is almost double the national rate. It does not stop there, in New York City, rates for teenage pregnancy far exceed the national averages and the city “remains the epicenter of the HIV/AIDS epidemic, with youths, the poor, and minorities increasingly - and unevenly - affected by the disease.”

Finally Mr. Waldman points out that Planned Parenthood, the nation’s largest promoter of abortion, “also provides prenatal care that prevents infant death and birth control that stops unintended pregnancies.” While how much of this counseling and care is actually done by Planned Parenthood is disputed, what of the other groups that do not promote abortion, like pregnancy care centers, that because of their opposition to abortion, do not accept federal funds under the Title X program that distributes them? These pro-life pregnancy care centers, if they accepted Title X funds, would be forced by the federal government to include referring for abortions as part of their pre-natal care - thanks to a regulation passed by President Clinton and never rescinded by President George W. Bush. Additionally pregnancy care centers, unlike Planned Parenthood, do not spend tens of millions of dollars to elect pro-abortion politicians or overturn popular incremental pro-life laws like parental consent.

How much more could these pregnancy care centers do if they received the millions in subsidies that U.S. taxpayers are currently giving to Planned Parenthood? The question isn’t why do pro-lifers hate family planning but more why does Planned Parenthood hate family planning that creates families?

Judge Lederman’s Top Ten List: Bad Arguments for Homosexual Parenting

by Peter Sprigg

January 12, 2009

After seven years of working on the issue of homosexuality at the Family Research Council, I think I have a pretty good sense of the arguments that pro-homosexual activists use in support of their agenda, such as affirmation of homosexual parents and same-sex “marriage.” Even when those arguments are made well, they are unconvincing-but when they are made poorly, it just leaves me shaking my head.

One example of this phenomenon-bad arguments made badly-got a lot of attention recently. That was the Newsweek cover story on “The Religious Case for Gay Marriage,” penned by the magazine’s religion editor Lisa Miller. It was so poorly researched and poorly reasoned that Miller should lose her job for it-not because she is in error, but because she is incompetent. Some political writer posting on a blog might get away with the kind of sloppiness Miller showed-but a “religion editor” writing a cover story should not be allowed to. Family Research Council President Tony Perkins and I wrote in detail about the Newsweek story on December 9.

Another example of a bad pro-homosexual argument badly made drew less attention, in part because of timing. On November 25-just two days before Thanksgiving-a Miami-Dade County judge in Florida, Cindy S. Lederman, issued a ruling declaring that state’s law barring homosexuals from adopting children to be a violation of the Florida constitution. The ruling came despite the fact that in 2004, the federal courts rejected a similar challenge to the same law. Lederman’s 53-page decision can be found here.

I am no longer surprised when a judge merely regurgitates the arguments typically offered by pro-homosexual activists, instead of engaging in an open-minded and thoughtful analysis. Such regurgitation is exactly what was done by the judges who voted to legalize same-sex “marriage” in Massachusetts, California, and Connecticut. But when a judge does not just explain away the evidence against the pro-homosexual position, but essentially denies that it even exists, then you know that the fix was in from the start.

Let me explain how the debate over homosexual parenting usually plays out, and how Judge Lederman went even beyond the normal pro-homosexual talking points.

One of the key arguments in favor of allowing homosexual parenting usually goes something like this: “There’s no proof that children raised by homosexuals do any worse than children raised by heterosexuals.” That they are able to make this claim with any degree of plausibility is due to only one fact-virtually all of the studies that have been conducted specifically of homosexual parents have suffered from such grave methodological flaws that they cannot be said to provide definitive “proof” of much of anything, one way or the other.

It is extremely difficult to get a truly random sample of the homosexual population, simply because that population is so small. The best surveys show that only about two percent of the population identifies as homosexual or bisexual (and only about one percent of couples sharing households). Therefore, scholars doing research on homosexuality often have to rely on “convenience samples”-for example, by advertising for study participants in publications catering to homosexuals. In the case of homosexual parents, it seems likely that those whose children are suffering serious problems would be less likely to volunteer, while those who do volunteer may be motivated by a desire to prove a point, and put only their best foot forward. Such a sample is likely to yield a more positive picture of homosexual parents than a truly random sample would.

Going hand-in-hand with the “no proof” claim is the “no differences” claim-the assertion that the research shows “no differences” between children raised by homosexuals and those raised by heterosexuals. Yet this claim has been decisively refuted by a source whose credibility on the issue is enhanced by her clear lack of bias against homosexuals-namely, the militantly pro-homosexual researcher Judith Stacey. Her 2001 article in American Sociological Review (with co-author Timothy J. Biblarz) conclusively refutes the “no differences” claim, noting that the research actually shows that children of lesbians are more likely to engage in homosexual behavior, daughters of lesbians are “more sexually adventurous and less chaste,” and lesbian “co-parent relationships” are more likely to break up than heterosexual marriages. Stacey does not consider these differences to be problematic, but others will certainly disagree. In essence, Stacey’s article confirms that advocates and many researchers themselves have been simply lying when they make the “no differences” claim.

Lederman’s decision mentions the Stacey and Biblarz article in a footnote, and notes her pro-homosexual position, but it fails to even mention the significance of the article in refuting the “no differences” claim. Instead Lederman merely repeats the discredited claim, declaring, “These reports and studies find that there are no differences in the parenting of homosexuals or the adjustment of their children” (p. 37 of the decision). Yet she goes even further. After repeating the (discredited) claim that there are “no differences,” she goes well beyond the narrowly defensible claim that the research provides “no proof” of negative outcomes, and instead makes a sweeping assertion that “based on the robust nature of the evidence in the field, this Court is satisfied that the issue is so far beyond dispute that it would be irrational to hold otherwise.”

To call the evidence “robust” on this matter is an exaggeration that should be embarrassing even to the pro-homosexual activists themselves. A detailed literature review of 49 studies on homosexual parenting reported:

Some major problems uncovered in the studies include the following:

Unclear hypotheses and research designs

Missing or inadequate comparison groups

Self-constructed, unreliable and invalid measurements

Non-random samples, including participants who recruit other participants

Samples too small to yield meaningful results

Missing or inadequate statistical analysis

Lerner and Nagai found at least one fatal research flaw in all forty-nine studies. As a result, they conclude that no generalizations can reliably be made based on any of these studies. For these reasons the studies are no basis for good science or good public policy.

Lederman’s own account of the testimony of one witness for the petitioner, however, contradicts the “no differences” claim in at least one crucial area-namely, the sexuality of young people raised by homosexual parents. Lederman notes on p. 17 that “one study revealed that female children raised by lesbians were more sexually active” and also said that “children raised by lesbian mothers expressed openness to considering same sex attraction.” But the witness, English psychologist  Michael Lamb, reportedly dismissed these findings as representing merely “a lesson in promoting tolerance” and showing that “children raised by lesbians are less strictly tied to sexual roles and rigid applications of sex roles.”

The principal case against homosexual parenting, however, is not based so much on the limited, methodologically deficient studies of homosexual parents as such. Instead, it is based on inferences to be drawn from two other bodies of research that are, indeed, “robust” in their findings. One is the evidence that homosexuality itself is associated with high levels of a number of pathologies-sexual promiscuity, sexually transmitted diseases, mental illness, substance abuse, domestic violence, and child sexual abuse. The second is the overwhelming body of evidence showing that in general, children do best when raised by their own biological mother and father who are committed to each other in a lifelong marriage. When these two bodies of evidence are juxtaposed upon each other, they provide more than sufficient reason for alarm about deliberately placing children with homosexual parents (for example, through foster care or adoption). Let’s look at these two factors individually.

Pro-homosexual activists usually do not deny that homosexuals have higher physical and  mental health risks-the evidence is simply too overwhelming. In fact, one of the most succinct summaries of those risks can be found on the website of the pro-homosexual Gay and Lesbian Medical Association. Here are some of the GLMA’s warnings about homosexual men:

That men who have sex with men are at an increased risk of HIV infection is well known . . .”

Gay men use substances at a higher rate than the general population, and not just in larger communities such as New York, San Francisco, and Los Angeles.”

Depression and anxiety appear to affect gay men at a higher rate than in the general population.”

Men who have sex with men are at an increased risk of sexually transmitted infection with the viruses that cause the serious condition of the liver known as hepatitis.”

Sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) occur in sexually active gay men at a high rate.”

Although more recent studies have improved our understanding of alcohol use in the gay community, it is still thought that gay men have higher rates of alcohol dependence and abuse than straight men.”

Recent studies seem to support the notion that gay men use tobacco at much higher rates than straight men . . .”

Problems with body image are more common among gay men than their straight counterparts, and gay men are much more likely to experience an eating disorder such as bulimia or anorexia nervosa.”

[H]uman papilloma virus [HPV] … infections may play a role in the increased rates of anal cancers in gay men.”

Although the health risks for lesbians are not as dramatic as those for homosexual men, they are still significant:

Lesbians have the richest concentration of risk factors for breast cancer than any subset of women in the world.”

Lesbians have higher risks for many of the gynecologic cancers.”

Research confirms that lesbians have higher body mass than heterosexual women.”

Research also indicates that lesbians may use tobacco and smoking products more often than heterosexual women use them.”

Alcohol use and abuse may be higher among lesbians.”

Research indicates that lesbians may use illicit drugs more often than heterosexual women.”

Since the evidence is so overwhelming, the usual explanation offered by pro-homosexual activists for the mental health problems (and sexual risk-taking, which leads to physical health problems) of homosexuals is to blame society’s negative attitudes toward homosexual conduct. For example, the GLMA list offers this explanation for higher rates of depression and anxiety among lesbians: “Lesbians have been shown to experience chronic stress from homophobic discrimination.”

However, instead of offering this stock answer (“Homophobia made me do it!”) to the mental health problems of homosexuals, Judge Lederman baldly denied that such problems exist at all, declaring that “expert witnesses” had shown that “homosexually behaving individuals are no more susceptible to mental health or psychological disorders that their heterosexual counterparts” (p. 10).

Yet a detailed footnote (footnote #8, p. 14) giving actual statistics shows a completely different story. For example it states that rates of “major depression” are more than twice as high among homosexual men than among heterosexual men (17% to 8%). Rates of smoking are 47% higher among bisexual men than among heterosexual men (28% to 19%; rates for homosexual men are not given), and 77% higher among lesbians than among heterosexual women (23% to 13%). Rates of alcohol dependency are 42% higher among homosexual and bisexual men than among heterosexual men (9.2% to 6.5%), and more than three times higher among lesbians than among heterosexual women (9% to 2.7%). Rates of drug dependency are two and a half times higher among homosexual and bisexual men than among heterosexual men (7.5% to 3%), and more than three times higher among lesbians than among heterosexual women (5% to 1.5%). “Suicide attempts” are twice as high among homosexual men as among heterosexual men (5.6% to 2.8%), and they are more than twice as high among lesbian or bisexual women as among heterosexual woman (11% to 4.5%). Meanwhile, the “lifetime history of suicide attempts” (presumably measured in a different study) is more than three times as high among homosexuals as among heterosexuals (14% to 4.5%).

It may be that we should not place too much weight upon the specific statistics cited in Footnote 8, because they include several illogical anomalies, perhaps resulting from the conflation of data from different studies. For example, the data on “major depression” report that the rate for “men” (5%) is significantly lower than the rate for both homosexual and heterosexual men (17% and 8%, respectively)! On the other hand, the data for “smoking” indicate that the rate for “men” (36.4%) is higher than the rate for both bisexual and heterosexual men (28% and 19%)-it hardly seems likely that the population of homosexual men (omitted from the list) would be large enough to raise the total figure so dramatically. On the female side in the smoking category, the rate listed for “women” (23%) is the same as that listed for lesbians, but significantly higher than that listed for heterosexual women (13%), even though the latter are the overwhelming majority of all women.

The mere fact that such manifest absurdities were included in the decision demonstrates the carelessness and incompetence of Judge Lederman. But even when taken with a substantial grain of salt, the data certainly provide no support whatsoever for her claim that “homosexually behaving individuals are no more susceptible to mental health or psychological disorders that their heterosexual counterparts.”

In fact, the internal contradictions of Judge Lederman’s opinion are illustrated by the fact that she later abandons the “no more susceptible” claim, citing another expert witness on page 14 as concluding that “the average rates of psychiatric conditions, substance abuse and smoking are [emphasis added] slightly higher for homosexuals than heterosexuals” (though rates that range from 42% to 233% higher, as indicated in Footnote 8 on the same page, would seem to be more than “slight” differences). Instead of denying the differerences altogether (as on p. 10), Lederman shifts to another argument, suggesting that there are other demographic groups that also have higher rates of “psychiatric conditions, substance abuse and smoking” than the general population, including “American-Indians,” “the unemployed,” and “non-high school graduates.”

This comparison, however, is flawed because homosexual conduct is not an innate characteristic like race, an involuntary characteristic like unemployment, nor a socioeconomic characteristic like educational attainment. It is a behavioral characteristic, defined by the voluntary choice to engage in specific behaviors, namely sexual acts with people of the same sex.

By way of comparison: if the research shows that women are more likely to get breast cancer than men, that cannot logically be taken as proof that women are inherently inferior to men, because one’s biological sex is an innate and involuntary condition. On the other hand, if research shows that cigarette smokers are more likely to get breast cancer than non-smokers, such a finding can logically be taken as evidence that not smoking is better than smoking, because smoking is a voluntary behavior with demonstrable negative consequences.

Much of the homosexual rights movement as a whole rests on deliberate obfuscation of this point. That is, it rests on the effort to portray homosexuality (falsely) as an innate characteristic like race or sex, instead of as what it is-a voluntary behavior, like smoking, that has clear negative consequences.

When it comes to the findings that children do best when raised by their own, biological mother and father who are committed to one another in a lifelong marriage, most pro-homosexual activists do not try to deny the overwhelming evidence. Instead, they generally will point out that most of the studies on which this conclusion is based involve comparisons with single-parent families or divorced families, rather than with homosexual couples as such.

Judge Lederman, however, was not content to dismiss this evidence as not being directly relevant, the way most pro-homosexual activists do. Instead, she dismissed it altogether. Citing Dr. Lamb for authority, she declares that “researchers once believed that traditional families provided the best environment for children. As the research developed, however, the notion was proven to be flawed …” (p. 15). She concludes her summary of Lamb’s testimony with two other statements, also false, stating that “the assumption that children need a mother and a father in order to be well adjusted is outdated and not supported by the research,” and making the absurd claim that “there is a well established and generally accepted consensus in the field that children do not need a parent of each gender to adjust healthily” (p. 18).

The truth is exactly the opposite. For instance, the non-partisan think tank Child Trends surveyed the literature and found, “An extensive body of research tells us that children do best when they grow up with both biological parents in a low-conflict marriage.” To the argument (often advanced by homosexual activists) that it is merely having the support of two parents that matters, Child Trends added, “Children growing up with stepparents also have lower levels of well-being than children growing up with biological parents. Thus, it is not simply the presence of two parents, as some have assumed, but the presence of two biological parents that seems to support children’s development.”

In similar fashion, Lederman denies that homosexual partnerships are more unstable than heterosexual marriage-then includes a footnote showing exactly the opposite. Footnote #4 on p. 11 cites one study (apparently from Europe) showing that “same sex couples in civil unions” had break-up rates 41 % higher than married heterosexuals (3.8% to 2.7%), while “same sex couples not in civil union” [sic] had rates more than three times higher (9.3%). It cites another study from Sweden in which the break-up rates for “gay male registered partnerships” were 75% higher than for married heterosexuals (14% to 8%), and the rates for “lesbian registered partnerships” were two and a half times higher (20%). She also cites an old (1970) study that showed that just in the first two years of a relationship, the break-up rates for “gay men” were four times higher than for married heterosexuals (16% to 4%), and the rates for lesbians were five and a half times higher (22%).

I won’t even go into the blatant religious bigotry expressed by Judge Lederman, who dismissed the testimony of two experts for the state on the basis of their having written for religious publications. James A. Smith, Sr. of the Florida Baptist Witness has already written on that aspect of Lederman’s decision here.

Lederman’s decision was not only poorly reasoned, but poorly written, being riddled with non sequitirs and punctuation errors. Take this passage on whether homosexuality is a mental disorder, for example: “Today, Dr. Berlin reports that leading professionals agree that homosexuality defines one’s same sex attraction only. [?] According to the witness, homosexuality was removed from the DSM because the evidence of [for?] it’s [sic] classification as a disorder did not justify the conclusion.”

While Judge Lederman’s decision was a comedy of errors, it is no laughing matter. One can only hope that this atrocious decision will be overturned on appeal.

Virginity Pledge Study “Misses the Boat” on Abstinence Education

by Moira Gaul

December 30, 2008

The Rosenbaum study comparing the sexual behavior of “virginity pledgers and nonpledgers” is a distraction from increasingly effective risk avoidance, or abstinence-centered, health prevention programs. Such programs are not the same as virginity pledge programs, and have stronger foundations in behavioral change than such pledges. The implication that this study should discredit federally funded abstinence programs for youth misses the boat from a behavioral science standpoint.

There are important ways in which abstinence programs are different from “virginity pledge” presentations. In order to accomplish behavior change or have a person successfully practice a specific behavior, precursors affecting that behavior have to be influenced. These include things such as knowledge as well as attitudes and intentions towards the behavior. The theoretical construct viewed as having the strongest effect on practicing a behavior is “self-efficacy.” Self-efficacy is the belief of a person that he or she can actually practice the behavior - the belief that they can actually do it successfully. Abstinence education programs teach skills in communication and refusal and impart additional information to youth for example about healthy relationships, goal setting, disease prevention, and social responsibility. All these elements serve to better equip youth, thus increasing self-efficacy. Collectively they provide a holistic health message helping youth to navigate the practice of sexual abstinence until marriage. Additionally, the longer the duration of the intervention or program, the more the health message, information, and skills imparted are reinforced. Such important program content cannot be adequately summed up and delivered during a short-term or one-time presentation. And if youth do slip on this behavior, the abstinence programs provide a sound foundation for returning to the practice of abstinence, whereas virginity pledges can leave one feeling as though there is utter failure for a return to the behavior.

Scholars are still building an evidence base for this relatively young field of abstinence education health promotion/disease prevention programs. Studying what is most successful within abstinence curricula to determine the best prevention practices would be a better use of research time and funding. Guiding youth away from high-risk behaviors which act to the detriment of both their physical and emotional health needs to be at the forefront of prevention strategies.

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