Wednesday, November 12, 2008

“Coming out” puts adolescents at risk


Encouraging adolescents with same-sex attractions to identify as gay has no scientific or ethical justification.

How should schools treat students who self-identify as homosexual? Today entire school systems in a number of states and counties promote “acceptance”. The demand for acceptance is based on the premise that patterns of sexual attraction – to the other sex or to same sex are determined at birth and unchangeable; therefore, everyone – the affected students themselves, their parents, teachers, and classmates – should be educated and when necessary pressured into accepting same-sex attraction (SSA) as normal and as healthy as the love between a man and a woman in marriage.

There is, however, no evidence to support the claim that SSA is genetically determined and unchangeable. If it were, one would expect that identical twins would always have the same pattern of sexual attraction. A study led by J. Michael Bailey based on the twins registry in Australia found that among male identical twins, when one twin had SSA, in only 11 per cent of the cases so did the other. This research virtually precludes genetic determination.

There is also no evidence to support the claim that SSA is unchangeable. There are numerous reports of people understanding the emotional conflicts that led them to SSA, successfully addressing these weaknesses and then experiencing a new pattern of sexual attraction. A large study of sexuality led by Edward Lauman found the percentage of people self-identifying as homosexual declining over time. Lisa Diamond found that patterns of sexual attraction are particularly unstable among women.

Those who support acceptance might argue that even if SSA is not genetically determined and changeable it would still be better for those experiencing these feelings to “come out” and be accepted as homosexual by the school community. This view ignores the very real risks that accompany coming out, particularly for males.

Vulnerable boys

Over 40 per cent of males who self-identify as homosexual (“gay”) before age 18 have been victims of sexual abuse or sexual assault. (Doll et al, 1992) An even higher percentage has suffered from untreated Gender Identity Disorder. (Zucker, Bradley, 1995) A study of the sexual behavior of 239 homosexually active males, 13 to 21, found that 42 per cent had a history of sexual abuse/assault. (Remafedi, 1994; Osmond, 1994) A study of 425 homosexual males, ages 17 to 22, found that 41.4 per cent reported an occasion of forced sex. (Halkitis, Wilton, Drescher, eds. 2005; Wainberg 2006) Forced sex rarely involves “safe” sex practices. (Kalichman, Rompa 1995)

Sexual child abuse and sexual assault have been linked to long-term psychological problems, including depression, sexual addiction, drug addiction, involvement in prostitution, and suicidal feelings. Some of these young men see their victimization as proof that they were “born” homosexual. Programs directed to acceptance rarely acknowledge or address these problems. When these serious emotional conflicts are not uncovered and treated, these males often act out in ways that are dangerous to themselves and to others. It is important to address this highly prevalent problem in young males with SSA.

At high risk of infection

Even if an adolescent male with SSA was not the victim of sexual abuse and did not experience untreated gender identity disorder GID, engaging in homosexual activity as an adolescent carries a high and truly unacceptable risk.

Read the rest of this article here.

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