Year in review: Top ten stories of 2008

As in year’s past, I have enjoyed reviewing the posts from the year and coming up with the top ten stories.
1. Cancelation of the American Psychiatric Association symposium – Amidst threat of protests, the APA pressed to halt a scheduled symposium dedicated to sexual identity therapy and religious affiliation. Whipped up by a factually inaccurate article in the Gay City News, gay activists persuaded the APA leadership to pressure symposium organizers to pull the program. Gay City News later ran a correction.
2. The other APA, the American Psychological Association, released a task force report on abortion and mental health consequences. Basing their conclusions on only one study, the APA surprised no one by claiming abortion had no more adverse impact on mental health than carrying a child to delivery. I revealed here that the APA had secretly formed this task force after a series of research reports in late 2005 found links between abortion and adverse mental health consequences for some women. New research confirms that concern is warranted.
3. Golden Rule Pledge – In the wake of Sally Kern saying homosexuality was a greater threat to the nation than terrorism, I initiated the Golden Rule Pledge which took place surrounding the Day of Silence and the Day of Truth. Many conservative groups were calling for Christian students to stay home. This did not strike me as an effective faith-centered response. The Golden Rule Pledge generated some controversy as well as approval by a small group of evangelicals (e.g., Bob Stith) and gay leaders (e.g., Eliza Byard). Some students taking part in the various events were positively impacted by their experience.
4. Exodus considers new direction for ministry – At a leadership training workshop early in 2008, Wendy Gritter proposed a new paradigm for sexual identity ministry. Her presentation was provocative in the sense that it generated much discussion and consideration, especially among readers here. It remains to be seen if Exodus will continue to move away from a change/reparative therapy focus to a fidelity/congruence ministry focus.
5. New research clarifies sexual orienatation causal factors – A twin study and a study of brain symmetry, both from Sweden and a large U.S. study shed some light on causal factors in sexual orientation.
6. Letter to the American Counseling Association requesting clarification of its policies concerning counseling same-sex attracted evangelicals. Co-signed by over 600 counselors (many of whom were referred by the American Association of Christian Counselors), I wrote a letter to the ACA requesting clarification regarding how counselors should work with evangelicals who do not wish to affirm homosexual behavior. The current policy is confusing and gives no guidance in such cases. Then President Brian Canfield replied affirming the clients self-determination in such cases. He referred the matter back to the ACA ethics committee. To date, that committee has not responded.
7. Paul Cameron’s work resurfaces and then is refuted – Insure.com resurrected Paul Cameron’s work in an article on their website about gay lifespans. The article was later altered to reflect more on HIV/AIDS than on homosexual orientation. Later this year, Morten Frisch produced a study which directly addressed Cameron’s methods.
8. Mankind Project unravels – This year I posted often regarding the Mankind Project and New Warriors Training Adventure. Recently, I reported that MKP is in some financial and organizational disarray.
9. Debunking of false claims about Sarah Palin’s record on support for social programs – I had lots of fun tracking down several false claims made about Sarah Palin during the election. Her opponents willfully distorted her real record to paint her as a hypocrite. I learned much more about Alaska’s state budget than I ever wanted to know but found that most claims of program cuts were actually raises in funding which not quite as much as the agencies requested. However, overall funding for such programs increased.
10. During the stretch run of the election, I became quite interested in various aspects of the race. As noted above, I spent some time examining claims surround Sarah Palin’s record. I also did a series on President-elect Obama’s record on housing, including an interview with one of Barack Obama’s former constituents.
I know, I know, number 10 is an understatement. (Exhibit A)
Happy New Year!

Top ten posts by number of comments and page views – 2008

Time to wrap up 2008 with a review of the stories told and topics covered. I also will give the top ten posts based on page views.
By far the election was the broad topic which generated the most page views. Aside from the Berg vs. Obama thread, readers prefer to comment on the sexual identity related posts. As in past years, I will pick out my top ten themes in a later post.
Top ten by number of comments (fluctuation should be minimal since most of these threads are quiet now)
1. Berg vs Obama: Response to Supreme Court due December 1 (796)
2. New study casts doubt on older brother hypothesis and reparative drive theory (460)
3. Gay City News prints letter clarifying sexual identity therapy (282)
4. New Direction for Exodus? (277)
5. Day of the Golden Rule? (264)
6. Sally Kern: What should she do? (248)
7. Study examines brain differences related to sexual orientation (239)
8. Multiple factors involved in sexual orientation, part 2 (221)
9. Sexual orientation theorizing: Is change possible? (219)
10. 60 Minutes Science of Sexual Orientation: An update from the mother of twins (217)
Top ten by page views are:
1. Berg vs Obama: Response to Supreme Court due December 1
2. Hey Florida, is this ok with you?
3. Ohio plumber Joe Wurzelbacher talks about his dialogue with Obama and spreading the wealth
4. Berg vs. Obama: Update and current status
5. Michelle Obama likes upscale clothes too
6. Donofrio vs. Wells: NJ Obama citizenship case slated for SCOTUS conference
7. What Might Have Been – The Man Who Could Have Reversed Roe v. Wade, Part two
8. Some light on Sarah Palin’s church affiliation
9. Did Barack Obama vote to withhold treatment to infants surviving abortion?
10. Day of Silence and Golden Rule Pledge on Appalachian State University
The top post has been viewed over 15,000 times with the other posts gradually decreasing from there. These numbers are constantly changing.

Bullycide in America: New resource available

Some have asked me why I initiated and supported the Golden Rule Pledge Initiative along with the Day of Silence. Watch this video and I hope you can feel a little of the anguish that is the daily life of a child who is the target of bullying.

The song is a way of introducing the new e-book Bullycide in America: Moms speak out about the bullying’suicide connection. Full disclosure: I have some articles in this book and have done some volunteering for this group. These stories and those of kids I know have touched me in profound ways and I hope will go a long way toward creating change. There are multiple factors which inform an understanding of bullying and I hope these cases and articles will help raise awareness.
Bullycide

WorldNetDaily. Golden Rule Pledge. Day of Silence.

I couldn’t think of a good title for this one so I just assembled the players, so to speak.
Check out this Worldnetdaily article banging away at the Day of Silence and then scroll about half way down the page and check out the “popular poster used to promote the Day of Silence.”
I was saddened to see that Linda Harvey believes her efforts were successful. But I had to smile a bit to think that the Golden Rule Pledge card was considered a promotion for the DOS.
Maybe next year we’ll have t-shirts…

Golden Rule Pledge on the Bilerico Project

Bil Browning, majordomo at the Bilerico Project, asked me to provide a post regarding the background of the Golden Rule Pledge. The article was posted May 16 and includes a statement from Eliza Byard at GLSEN regarding the project.
You can also subscribe to a Yahoo email group about the Golden Rule Pledge that will become more active toward the beginning of the next school year.

Rev. Hutcherson plans (another) Day of Silence protest

The SnoValley Star reports that Rev. Ken Hutcherson plans to protest his daughter’s high school again next year on the Day of Silence.

At a May 8 school board meeting, the Rev. Ken Hutcherson vowed to continue to protest the Day of Silence in coming years if the Mount Si High School Gay Straight Alliance holds it during school hours.
In fact, Hutcherson, who led about 100 protestors during the annual event late last month, vowed an even larger presence in the future.
“As parents, next year, if you let this happen when school is happening, I’m going to have to organize well enough there will be no kids coming to school,” he said at the meeting.

Some opposed to the Day of Silence say it is disrupting to school for students to be silent during classroom breaks. How is a protest where no kids go to school an improvement?
I am aware that there are some people in this area that are already planning to be involved in the Golden Rule Pledge next year. Some may even remain silent. So I am pretty sure some kids will be in school. My hope is that some evangelical parents will be passing out Golden Rule Pledge cards where they are most needed – at the protest.

Phelps and WBC a no-show at Eastern Michigan University

In case you heard the rumors…
The Phelps clan had planned to picket at Eastern Michigan University (why there, I don’t know) due to the participation of several Campus Crusade for Christ groups in the Golden Rule Pledge/Day of Silence. I will not link to the Westboro page but this blogger has links enough to keep anyone busy for awhile looking at the whole story.
Now, back to final exams…

Another Golden Rule, Day of Silence report: UNC-Greensboro

I am gradually getting reports of how the Golden Rule Pledge was implemented around the country. This report comes from Meryl, a young woman who is a youth leader, UNC-G student, and singer-songwriter. I have the entire article posted at the Golden Rule Pledge website. Please give it a read.

Day of Silence and Golden Rule Pledge on Appalachian State University

As a result of the Golden Rule Pledge effort, I have met some really great folks. I am only going to mention one with this post but there are many more. I hope to share their experiences at the new Golden Rule Pledge website soon. I did want to here share one very early report from JK, a student at Appalachian State University in Boone, NC. JK was an early supporter of the Golden Rule Pledge and as you will see, used it as a springboard to mobilize Christian groups on her campus for outreach. She wrote to me today (Saturday, the 26th) with her experiences of the day. It is long but well worth the read…

Yesterday was the Day of Silence. A national event where students on their campuses are silent for the entire day to bring awareness to the silencing of LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender) students. This community has been daily silenced by the name-calling, bullying, and harassment simply because of their sexuality. Many Christians are confused about how to respond to this day because they do not agree with homosexuality, but they do agree that hatred based on it is not acceptable.

This year I decided to get involved. I went to Campus Crusade for Christ as well as Intervarsity Fellowship to present the idea of participating. They both said they wanted to participate but I was absolutely astonished when Campus Crusade said that not only did they want to support it as individuals, but as a ministry. When I heard this, my heart was pounding- it was a prayer come true.

I can’t give you a count of how many students from the ministries actually participated. It might have been one, or many. But to me, it was their sincere desire to do something that really hit me hard. I have long been frustrated with the Christian community’s response to the GLBT group. When Crusade called me, a little piece of anger towards the church was cast away.

Students at our school chose to participate by duct taping their mouths shut in complete silence, and when people asked why, handing them a slip of paper that explained. While I was more than fine with doing this, I wanted to do more. I wanted to make it clear that not only do I love them, but Christ does also. So I made my own slips, not to preach, but to break down the walls between the Christian and LGBT communities. The slips I made said this:

“Today I am pledging to be silent to bring attention to the name-calling, bullying and harassment experienced by LGBT students.

Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. Luke 6:31

As a follower of Christ, I believe that all people are created in the image of God and therefore deserve love and respect.”

Yesterday morning, when I went to the SAGA (Sexuality and Gender Alliance) table to receive my piece of duct tape, I showed them my slips and told them that several ministries would be participating as well. The look on their faces was priceless. They were shocked, but ecstatic. This alone would have been enough to make my day.

But there was still more to be done. Eric Heistand from Campus Crusade for Christ had the idea of bringing a flower to the head faculty advisor of SAGA. We left flowers and a card that read,

“Dear Mary Ballard and SAGA: As followers of Christ, we want to stand beside you in silence to bring attention to the name-calling, bullying and harassment on college campuses around the world directed toward the LGBT community. We believe that all people have been created in the image of God and therefore have infinite worth and dignity. May these flowers and our silence be a symbol of our desire to show true love and concern. May they also be small step in breaking down some of the walls that sometimes divide us. In silence we stand with you, JK, and Eric Heistand on behalf of Campus Crusade for Christ.”

At 5 pm, the students who participated gathered at a theatre to break the silence by letting a scream go and then talking about their experiences. I was 10 minutes late due to a nap, but when I got there people greeted me with hugs, handshakes, and smiling faces. I discovered that Mary Ballard, the teacher who we gave the flowers and card, read the card aloud to the community.

People came up to me shocked. Over and over, people said to me, “Thank you. You don’t know how much this means to me. I’m amazed. Thank you!” The students seemed really surprised that a ministry, especially a Christian ministry would do that. I talked with several students, but one student spoke with me for a while. She told me that she was so surprised and couldn’t believe her eyes that she had to read the card twice even before it was read aloud. I’m so grateful for the relationships that were begun yesterday just by pledging to be silent for less than 24 hours. Later that night I went to eat with several of them and hung out until the wee hours of the morning. It was wonderful.

To those of you reading, I wish I could tell you in person because this day deserves more than a short summary. Yesterday, the LGBT community saw something revolutionary- they saw Christians loving them and more than that, they saw the love of Christ. What would happen if next year, hundreds of Christian students walked around with duct tape in silence?

I have to tell you about how I felt yesterday walking around in silence with duct tape. I felt humiliated at times, and other times proud. You see, everywhere I went, people stared. I felt like a leper, completely stigmatized from people. In fact, I was experiencing what the LGBT community has experienced for decades.

As I was walking to my dorm, I realized why 30% of LGBT students report having missed one or more days of school per year out of fear. Walking by a dorm, someone opened their window and yelled a derogatory statement to me. I was scared. There was such anger in his voice that I was fearful to walk by the dorm again later that day. I was reminded of Lawrence King, a 14 year old who was murdered because of his homosexuality just two months ago.

Yesterday was amazing. The best day of the year by far. The truth is, this group has been disappointed by the church. I know that as people read that, some will become angry with me. ‘Not my church’ they will say. But when “Christians” hold signs on campus that read, “ God hates Fags.” and “fags burn in hell,” the LGBT community associates that with Christianity. Many people have told me that they have never said anything derogatory to the gay community, but the problem is they haven’t said anything at all. You see, half of the church is screaming hate at them, and the other half is silent. If there is one thing I have learned, it is that silence is powerful. The failure to not say anything, has said a lot.

This [Golden Rule Pledge] was a great first step for me to get out there in ministry. So thanks so much to you!

I don’t know how to end this note, but hopefully there won’t be an end. This is just the beginning…

I have to tell you, I am moved and humbled. I am proud of those Campus Crusade and IVP ministries and others like them around the country who stepped away from fear and up to the plate. More stories to come…