What should Christians do about the SPLC hate list?

Last week, the Southern Poverty Law Center posted a revision of their hate groups list, including the Family Research Council and the American Family Association, among other Christian organizations, on their anti-gay list of groups to watch. The SPLC insists that the groups placed on the list knowingly spread misleading information and harmful stereotypes about gay people that incite prejudice and harassment. Viewing homosexuality as unbiblical was not one of the criteria for inclusion.

Since then, representatives of these groups as well as some defenders have criticized the SPLC, suggesting that the list is really an effort to stifle  differences of opinion and/or to persecute Christians for their beliefs. For the most part, the reaction of defenders of the newly labeled hate groups is to avoid addressing the issues the SPLC raised, instead preferring to attack the credibility of the SPLC.

Reviewing the charges leveled against the Christian groups, I think their responses are mostly unfortunate and unhelpful. The SPLC has identified some issues which are legitimate and have damaged the credibility of the groups on the list. Going forward, I hope Christians don’t rally around these groups but rather call them to accountability.

The SPLC identifies ten myths that the listed groups promote (the statements that are also links lead to blog posts where I address the issues). They are:

1. Homosexuals molest children at far higher rates than heterosexuals.

2. Same-sex parents harm children.

3. People become homosexual because they were sexually abused as children or there was a deficiency in sex-role modeling by their parents. (see also here)

4. Homosexuals don’t live nearly as long as heterosexuals. (see also here and here)

5. Homosexuals controlled the Nazi Party and helped to orchestrate the Holocaust. (see also comments from historian Lothar Machtan)

6. Hate crime laws will lead to the jailing of pastors who criticize homosexuality and the legalization of practices like bestiality and necrophilia.

7.  Allowing homosexuals to serve openly would damage the armed forces.

8. Homosexuals are more prone to be mentally ill and to abuse drugs and alcohol. (see also here and here)

9.  No one is born a homosexual. (see also here and here)

10. Gay people can choose to leave homosexuality.

(Note: the links above are not in the original SPLC article. They link to relevant articles or refer to work I have done to address these claims in past posts. I have done very little work on claims 2 and 7, however, I believe the groups on the SPLC hate list have distorted research to support their views on these issues (e.g., Bryan Fischer’s claim that gays in the military brought on the Holocaust as a talking point against repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell).

The SPLC offers valid criticisms of each one of these assertions. In fairness, the SPLC did not completely debunk each of these statements in their brief article, but they did raise legitimate factual concerns about how these assertions are communicated to the public.

I have spent much time addressing claims 1, 3-6 and 8-10 (click the links above for posts on these topics). The more I have researched these claims, the more disillusioned I have become with the credibility of the groups recently placed on the list. Even though I agree with some positions held by some of the groups on some issues (e.g., pro-life), I now investigate any factual claims for myself and accept nothing at face value.

Ultimately, this is a real problem for American Christianity. One should be able to trust Christian groups to provide accurate information and nuanced analysis. However, on issues relating to sexual orientation, I cannot trust them. For me, this lack of trust spills over to other domains as well, creating a significant problem with credibility. I hope my fellow believers will not defend these claims simply because those making them are Christians.

There are many negative consequences which derive from the myths, overgeneralizations and stereotypes. For instance, I know of a handful of situations where men were kept from their grandchildren or children by other family members because they disclosed same-sex attraction. Even though the men involved had no attraction for children, their families feared them because they experienced homosexual attractions. I know of more than one man who had to defend his right to have custody of his children because he divulged his homosexual attractions to a Christian leader. The families and Christian leaders were driven to fear because of rhetoric from one or more of the groups now on the SPLC list.

Surveys demonstrate that younger people are more moderate regarding homosexuality. They are more likely to view groups such as now occupy the SPLC list as being strident and harsh. Many such young people know GLBT people. They perhaps know some gays who could fit the stereotypes, but often they know more such persons who do not match up with the picture painted by the organizations in question. They also know straight people who have the same problems that are supposed to be more typical of gays. The effect of the hyperbole and stereotyping is to turn them off, sometimes toward the church in general.

To repeat, I hope Christians don’t circle the wagons and view the SPLC episode as a persecution of Christians for “righteousness sake” (Mt. 5:10). In my view, those who criticize the motives of the SPLC for making the designations miss the point. Even if the SPLC targeted Christian groups because those involved don’t like Christians, the substantial issues raised by the SPLC still remain. The SPLC did not bring up doctrinal issues, but rather issues of fact unrelated to any central tenets of Christianity.

Worries over free speech (e.g., Wendy Kaminer) are also distractions. The SPLC cannot stop these groups from misusing data or proclaiming their views. However, the SPLC can exercise free speech to criticize misleading  assertions.

Instead, I hope Christians consider the words of Al Mohler, which could have been written about this very issue:

Yet, when gay activists accuse conservative Christians of homophobia, they are also right. Much of our response to homosexuality is rooted in ignorance and fear. We speak of homosexuals as a particular class of especially depraved sinners and we lie about how homosexuals experience their own struggle. Far too many evangelical pastors talk about sexual orientation with a crude dismissal or with glib assurances that gay persons simply choose to be gay. While most evangelicals know that the Bible condemns homosexuality, far too many find comfort in their own moralism, consigning homosexuals to a theological or moral category all their own.

Having examined the ten myths identified by the SPLC, I have to agree with Mohler – much of what is said by Christians about homosexuals is provably false and rooted in ignorance and fear. On point, leaders of the organizations targeted by the SPLC can defend themselves or they can use this crisis as a wake up call for reflection and change. My hope is that individual Christians and church leaders will not enable the defensiveness but instead demand the reflection and change.

Statement from Ugandan LGBT coalition; Judge rules against Rolling Stone

It was an eventful day in Uganda. The Rolling Stone distributed part 2 of their “hang the gays” tabloid, and a Ugandan judge ordered the tabloid to cease outing gays. Just a bit ago, Sexual Minorities Uganda made the following comments and press release.

Kampala.  2.11.2010

Uganda: Court issues an interim order restraining the “ROLLING STONE”

In two of its publication issue No 5 and Issue no 6. The Rolling Stone a Ugandan weekly Tabloid., “outed” Uganda  LGBTI People. These outings increased hostility and harassment for LGBTI Ugandans.

In response Sexual Minorities Uganda – SMUG, the Ugandan LGBTI community and the civil society coalition on human rights and constitutional law sued the Rolling Stone.

Before His Lordship Justice V.F  Musoke Kibuka in the presence of  Ms. Sengendo Rose Counsel for the applicant at the high court of Uganda.

The Court issued an interim order restraining the respondents, their servants and agents, from any further publication in the publication called ROLLING STONE or any  other publications  by the respondents , their agents or servants, the identities by name or pictures or any relevant implication of the person or person perceived by the respondents to be gay, lesbian or homosexual in general.

The Interim Order is to remain in place till the hearing and disposal of Misc Cause No. 163 of 2010

Costs on the cause.

The Rolling Stone editorial team was not in court; hearing for the case has been scheduled for 23rd .11 . 2010.

And then the press release…

PRESS RELEASE

KAMPALA – November 01, 2010

GAY ACTIVISTS SUE THE ROLLONG STONE TABLOID

The Ugandan Rolling Stone tabloid published an article entitled “100 Pictures of Uganda’s Top Homos Leak” calling for “the hanging of homos” in Uganda in its issue of Vol.1, No. 5, 2 – 9 October, 2010. This article shows pictures of some of the 100 alleged homosexuals and other Human Rights Activists, alongside their names and a description of their professional jobs and private life, including where they live or work.

The publication has affected the day to day lives of the individuals mentioned and the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender [LGBTI] community as a whole. Therefore Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender human rights activists have taken the tabloid to the High court.

Through this litigation the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender community is seeking to bring to an end the violations. They will also educate and raise awareness that everyone in this society deserves and should be protected by the government and the law irrespective of race, age, color, tribe, creed, sexual orientation and gender identity.

We call on;

1. The MEDIA to immediately desist from using press freedom to incite violence against any person.

2. The Government of Uganda to intervene immediately and take all appropriate measures to put an end to this blatant incitement to public violence against a particular group of citizens.

3. The Government of Uganda should recognize and seize the opportunity to ensure the protection of human rights, which is entrusted to its authority, and uphold the Ugandan Constitution as well as the international and regional Human Rights Instruments to which Uganda is a signatory.

For further information please contact:

Frank Mugisha –

fmugisha@sexualminoritiesuganda.org

Christianity Today: Doug Coe’s vision for the Fellowship

Last year and early this year, as a component of reporting on Uganda’s Anti-Homosexuality Bill, I wrote a bit about the Fellowship Foundation. Author Jeff Sharlet reported in November of last year that the main movers of the Ugandan proposal were associated with the Fellowship. As the matter unfolded, it has become clear that those behind the bill are associated with the Fellowship, but outside of Uganda, many other Fellowship associates oppose the bill. In particular, former Ford and Carter administration official, Bob Hunter offered vigorous public opposition on behalf of the Fellowship. To get the context, Jeff Sharlet’s guest post here on the subject is well worth reviewing.

The signature event associated with the Fellowship Foundation is the National Prayer Breakfast. The Fellowship organizes the event for the Congress with the President sometimes taking an active role in inviting guests from around the world. Held the first week of February, speculation was high in January about who would attend from Uganda. In relationship to my reporting on Uganda, I was invited to come to the National Prayer Breakfast to learn more about the event and the group behind it.

As an aspect of that visit, I was given a rare opportunity to sit down with spiritual leader of the Fellowship, Doug Coe. He grants few interviews, in fact, I only know of a handful, but he was glad to affirm to me that Uganda’s Anti-Homosexuality Bill was completely inconsistent with his vision for the Fellowship. Today, Christianity Today published the rest of the interview on their webite.

Over the next week or so, I will be reporting more on my visit to the National Prayer Breakfast. In this post, I want to begin by providing the talking points for a meeting where delegates from Africa were given information about the essential aspects of the National Prayer Breakfast work. In the legislatures of many nations, Fellowship groups conduct prayer breakfast meetings with similar aims as the US version. What follows is a document used to explain the Fellowship at an African gathering at this year’s event.

Eight Core Aspects of the vision and methods – the National Prayer Breakfast work:

  1. Based on Long Term Relationships:  There are a circle of friends connected with this that go back several decades in some cases.  Sometimes we simply call ourselves the fellowship or a family of friends.  Family refers to the nature of relationships and friends speaks to the quality of our relationships.
  2. It’s a Wide Vision but grounded in Small Groups:  It’s world-wide – we have members coming from very many different nations – it’s a very wide vision – but at the same time the whole thing is composed of friends gathering regularly in small groups for fellowship and to pray for their nations, their leaders and the leaders of the world.
  3. We focus on Jesus as the Common Ground:  Any movement needs to have a strong ideal of shared values holding its members together.  Many initiatives that try to promote unity across religious divides – can often end up with the ‘lowest common denominator’ when trying to create common ground.  We are seeking the highest common denominator and so we reference our core values and methods to the principles, precepts and person of Jesus.
  4. We work across all that is dividing humanity:  Nearly all of the conflicts and wars in the world today are being fought because of religious or ideological difference and ethnic differences.  And part of the vision of our family of friends – is to raise up a movement of people who can cross these divides – who can ‘stand in the gap‘ – who can love ‘ the enemy.’
  5. It’s also call for Personal Transformation:  A personal transformation – by Divine influence.  All of us are works in progress… we experience changes in ourselves as we follow this Way of Jesus.  And this happens the more we reflect His thinking, His way of speaking these actions – his love.  The hope for the transformation of society – lies with transformed individuals.
  6. It’s about faith for a Better World:  As human beings making up the family of nations in the world – we can do much better than what we have done so far.  We can do better than this.  We need to articulate and communicate a vision that is big and inspiring enough for people to buy into with whole-hearted, life-long commitment.  A vision for a new way of living, this is what Jesus’ concept of the kingdom of God was all about.  The world in its present state is not at all in line with the ideals of God’s Kingdom.  That is, it is not operating by the values of God. This is why we see wars, injustice, poverty, crime and so forth.
  7. We Focus on the Essentials:  By the time of Jesus – in his religion there were over 600 commandments.  Jesus boiled them down to two.  He said “Love God with all you heart, mind and should and Love your neighbor as yourself.”  This he said was the Sum of all…..the other commandments.  The sum of the law and the prophets.  This was the greatest commandments.  The main thing.  And the main thing to keep the main thing the main thing. 
  8. Finally – we work with Leaders but only have one leader that we give our lives to and that is Jesus:  One of the earlier followers of Jesus – Paul was given a special mission: “This man is my chosen instrument to take my name…before the Gentiles and their kings….Acts 9:15,”  This group of friends has helped to carry on this mission in regards the “king” – or other leaders of our world – who hold enormous influence – for better or worse – over vast numbers of people including billion of the poor – “the least of these” for whom Jesus has a special concern.

Number 7 echoes what Coe said during the interview:

Coe said that Lincoln was always faithful to go to church, but never joined a church. When asked why he stayed unaligned, President Lincoln replied, “When I find that church which has as its only creed ‘to love God with all its heart, mind, soul and strength,’ I will gladly join.” Coe seems to want the Fellowship to be the kind of group Lincoln could join.

For now, let me note that Coe rarely speaks in public and rarely takes public positions on issues. He was willing to do so in order to say that the Anti-Homosexuality Bill was inconsistent with his vision of following Jesus.

I am very interested in observations and dialogue regarding the interview and the summary points above. There were many more questions I will ask Mr. Coe if given the opportunity. I suspect this will have an interest to many outside the Ugandan anti-gay bill so I hope the discussion will not be limited to it.

Cabinet meeting fails to resolve controversy of Uganda’s Anti-Homosexuality Bill

NTV has the story:

Sources in Uganda are mixed on the meaning of these meetings. Some suggest that the bill is alive and will eventually be passed. Others say that the meetings will lead to a withdrawal of the bill.

Ugandan Cabinet meeting considers Anti-Homosexuality Bill

Here is a video report from NTV in Uganda regarding a Ugandan Cabinet meeting where the Anti-Homosexuality Bill was debated.

Hon. David Bahati, bill sponsor, signalled some willingness to amend the bill but has been silent about the nature of the changes. Later yesterday a debate on possible changes yielded little fruit.

The committee, to be chaired by local government minister Adolf Mwesige, will come up with a proposal that will be forwarded to the legal, parliamentary, presidential and foreign affairs committees.

“It was a heated debate for over two hours. Those who expressed reservations fear the cutting of aid by western governments,” said a source who preferred anonymity.

“Those for it argued that we need to maintain our independence and values as a country,” the source added.

There were 21 Cabinet members in the meeting.

While broadly supported domestically, the 2009 anti-homosexuality Bill has caused a tempest abroad and anxiety from western donors who fund a large chunk of Uganda’s budget.

Those opposed to the Bill say it is discriminatory and violates human rights.

ht: BTB

Love Won Out transitions to Exodus International

This just in…

The Associated Press has a story on topic…

Focus on the Family’s conference on homosexuality joins Exodus’ expanding church outreach

Orlando, FL. — Focus on the Family’s Love Won Out conference on homosexuality will be moving to Exodus International starting November, the longtime allies announced today. The move is a logical step not only for both organizations, but also for a movement that has educated and equipped Christians for decades about the reality that unwanted same-sex attractions can be overcome.

Exodus is making church education a priority effort. Recently, Exodus announced it was merging with outreach ministries of the Presbyterian and Reformed faith communities as well as The United Methodist Church. Those new partnerships will focus on equipping churches with a biblical perspective of sexuality and gender – efforts critical in continuing the original mission of the Love Won Out conference.

“Exodus is thrilled with this opportunity as the Love Won Out conference is a natural fit in our ongoing efforts to share the hope we’ve found,” said Alan Chambers, President of Exodus International. “Love Won Out has been and will continue to be a powerful event dedicated to helping the global Christian church better understand and more effectively reflect biblical truth and Christ-like compassion to a hurting world.”

Focus on the Family launched Love Won Out in 1998 to educate and equip Christians on how to respond to the issue of homosexuality in a biblical way, and has traveled to more than 50 cities worldwide with its message of truth and grace. The conference has always featured Exodus speakers and highlighted Exodus member ministries.

“There is no one better equipped to take over the operation of Love Won Out than Alan and his team,” said Focus on the Family’s Melissa Fryrear, a Love Won Out speaker and host for more than six years. “They have been with us since the beginning. They have stood alongside us in sharing the hope that, with Christ, transformation is possible for those unhappy with same-sex attractions. And we will stand alongside them as they continue to share that message as the organizer of Love Won Out.”

Focus on the Family’s gender team will continue its efforts tracking and analyzing homosexuality and its surrounding issues, as well as providing expert support to other Focus departments and practical help to its constituents.

Gary Schneeberger, vice president of media and public relations for the ministry, acknowledged that financial realities played a role in the conference’s transition to Exodus.

“Everyone knows these are challenging times for organizations and individuals all across the globe,” he said. “It is not an inexpensive undertaking to put on a Love Won Out event; and contrary to what our detractors say, the conferences rarely have recouped the financial investment made in them. That is a cost we have always paid because of the positive impact the events have had.

“With Exodus moving aggressively to strengthen its church outreach, though, they are the ones who ought to be shepherding Love Won Out as it continues on in its second decade. Our financial challenges have led us to recognize a strategic opportunity that makes sense independent of economic circumstances.”

Focus on the Family will continue to support the Love Won Out conference financially, and by providing speakers and marketing support. “Focus remains very committed to sharing biblical view of homosexuality,” said Fryrear. “After all, we’re still in the truth and grace business.”

Focus on the Family will lead its last Love Won Out conference in Birmingham, Ala. on Nov. 7.

The Washington Blade already has a story up about the move.

Can we believe ex-gays and ex-ex-gays?

Peterson Toscano makes a curious comment about ex-gays and ex-ex-gays in an email to Box Turtle Bulletin

In sharing ex-gay survivor narratives, I see the importance of digging up the many non-religious reasons people go ex-gay. For too long Focus on the Family, Exodus, etc, have been hiding behind a religious curtain. Similarly many ex-gays and former ex-gays I meet express that their ONLY reason for going ex-gay was their faith. Warren Throckmorton capitalizes on this sort of thing claiming that the struggle is an incongruence between faith and sexuality, when in reality for many it is primarily a conflict between society and sexuality.

First, Peterson says the ex-gays and former ex-gays express that the only reason for seeking to be ex-gay is related to conflicts over faith. And then he says I, in some way “capitalize” on this claim when in fact, the conflict is not really with faith but derives from conflicts with society. Maybe it is just me, but it appears he is saying those congruence seeking ex-gays and former ex-gays are wrong. They really weren’t motivated by religious conflicts at all. Apparently, I am wrong as well when I believe them. Perhaps, he is suggesting that I know that they and I are wrong but I ignore that. I am not really sure. But the message I get here is that he knows the real motives.
Seems like you find confirmation bias all over. Those ex-gays and ex-ex-gays are mistaken, the real reason they seek ex-gay is social conflict, Peterson asserts, even if they don’t know it. He needs to dig for what he knows is there.
I am sure in some cases, that social disapproval is more motivational than religious issues. Religious disapproval is a metaphor for disapproval from all sources. However, on the other hand, I think you risk missing the individual factors by “digging up the many non-religious reasons people go ex-gay.” Sure those who minister and help should be open to those reasons. However, those who dig should be prepared to find little else but what the conflicted person said in the first place.

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!

Family acceptance and same-sex attracted teens

A study in Pediatrics about family reactions to same-sex attracted kids is getting some media coverage over the past few days. There appears to be an effort to get the message out via LGB media. Here is a news release from Cathy Renna’s group.

San Francisco, CA -­ For the first time, researchers have established a clear link between rejecting behaviors of families towards lesbian, gay and bisexual (LGB) adolescents and negative health outcomes in early adulthood. The findings will be published in the January issue of Pediatrics, the journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics, in a peer-reviewed article titled “Family Rejection as a Predictor of Negative Health Outcomes in White and Latino Lesbian, Gay and Bisexual Young Adults.” The paper, authored by Dr. Caitlin Ryan and her team at the César E. Chávez Institute at San Francisco State University, which shows that parents’ rejecting behaviors towards their LGB children dramatically compromises their health, has far reaching implications for changing how families relate to their LGB children and how LGB youth are served by a wide range of providers across systems of care. The study and development of resource materials was funded by The California Endowment, a health foundation dedicated to expanding access to affordable, quality health care for underserved individuals and communities. For the first time, research has established a predictive link between specific, negative family reactions to their child’s sexual orientation and serious health problems for these adolescents in young adulthood “such as depression, illegal drug use, risk for HIV infection, and suicide attempts,” said Caitlin Ryan, PhD, Director of the Family Acceptance Project at the César E. Chávez Institute at SF State and lead author of the paper. “The new body of research we are generating will help develop resources, tools and interventions to strengthen families, prevent homelessness, reduce the proportion of youth in foster care and significantly improve the lives of LGBT young people and their families.”
Major Research Findings:
Higher rates of family rejection during adolescence were significantly associated with poorer health outcomes for LGB young adults.
LGB young adults who reported higher levels of family rejection during adolescence were 8.4 times more likely to report having attempted suicide, 5.9 times more likely to report high levels of depression, 3.4 times more likely to use illegal drugs, and 3.4 times more likely to report having engaged in unprotected sexual intercourse, compared with peers from families that reported no or low levels of family rejection.
Latino males reported the highest number of negative family reactions to their sexual orientation in adolescence.
“This study clearly shows the tremendous harm of family rejection, even if parents think they are well-intentioned, following deeply held beliefs or even protecting their children,” said Dr. Sten Vermund, a pediatrician and Amos Christie Chair of Global Health at Vanderbilt University.
“In today’s often hostile climate for LGBT youth, it is especially important to note that both mental health issues like depression and suicide and HIV risk behaviors were greatly increased by rejection. Given the ongoing HIV epidemic in America, in which half of all new cases of HIV are found in men who have sex with men and there is growing concern about prevention messages reaching young people, it is vital that we share these findings with parents and service providers who work with youth in every way” Vermund continued.
“When put to practical, day-to-day use and shared with families and those who serve LGBT youth, these findings will lead to healthier, more supportive family dynamics and better lives for LGBT young people,” Vermund concluded.
The prevailing approach by pediatricians, nurses, social workers, school counselors, peer advocates and community providers has focused almost exclusively on directly serving LGBT youth, and does not consider the impact of family reactions on the adolescent’s health and well-being.
Subsequent work with ethnically diverse families by the Family Acceptance Project indicates that parents and caregivers can modify rejecting behavior once they understand the serious impact of their words and actions on their LGBT children¹s health. In addition, even a little change in parental behavior appears to have a clear impact on decreasing LGBT young people’s risk. This new family-related approach to working with LGBT youth being developed by the Family Acceptance Project engages families as allies in decreasing the adolescent’s risk and increasing their well-being while respecting the family’s deeply held values.
“The new family-related behavioral approach to care being developed by the Family Acceptance Project offers great promise to change the future for LGBT youth and their families by helping parents and caregivers learn how to support their LGBT children and to prevent these extremely high levels of risk related to family rejection,” said Erica Monasterio, MN, FNP, in the Division of Adolescent Medicine and Family Health Care Nursing at UCSF.
“Rather than seeing families as part of the problem, this approach engages them as an essential resource in promoting healthy outcomes for their LGBT children.”
“We are using our research to develop a new model of family-related care to decrease the high levels of risk for LGBT young people that restrict life chances and full participation in society,” said Dr. Ryan.
“Our easy-to-use behavioral approach will help families increase supportive behaviors and modify behaviors their LGBT children experience as rejecting that significantly increase their children’s risk. However, redirecting practice and professional training ­ from not asking about family reactions to a young person’s LGBT identity to engaging families in promoting their LGBT children’s well-being – requires a substantial shift on the part of both mainstream and LGBT providers, health systems and community programs.”
“Family Rejection as a Predictor of Negative Health Outcomes in White and Latino Lesbian, Gay and Bisexual Young Adults” is the first of many research papers on outcomes related to family acceptance and rejection of LGBT adolescents, supporting positive LGBT youth development and providing family-related care to be released by the Family Acceptance Project.
Methodology
The Family Acceptance Project uses a participatory research approach. The research sample included 224 LGB young non-Latino white and Latino adults, ages 21-25, who were open about their sexual orientation to at least one parent or primary caregiver during adolescence. These youth were recruited within California from 249 LGBT-related venues. Family rejection measures in the survey were developed based on a prior in-depth qualitative study of LGBT adolescents and families throughout California from 2002-2004.
About the Family Acceptance Project
The Family Acceptance Project is a community research, intervention and education initiative that studies the impact of family acceptance and rejection on the health, mental health and well being of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) youth. Results are being used to help families provide support for LGBT youth; to improve their health and mental health outcomes; to strengthen families and help maintain LGBT youth in their homes; to develop appropriate programs and policies; and train providers to improve the quality of services and care these youth receive in a wide range of settings.
For more information, please visit: Family Acceptance Project

I will comment more after I see the study methods and sampling. Given what the news release says about the study group, I am not sure I would generalize these results to other parts of the country. On the face of it, the write up seems to be a confrontation of religious parents and communitites who disapprove of homosexuality. On the other hand, I know some reactions from disapproving parents go so far overboard that real harm is done.

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.