Putting Adolescents at Risk by Promoting Homosexuality
Family North Carolina MagazineMarch/April 2009
by Dale O'Leary
How should schools treat students who self-identify as lesbian or gay? Certain members of the educational establishment insist that schools should promote “acceptance” based on the premise that patterns of sexual attractionto the opposite sex or to the same sexare determined at birth and unchangeable; therefore, everyonethe affected students themselves, their parents, teachers, and classmatesshould be educated and, when necessary, coerced into accepting same-sex attraction (SSA) as normal and healthy.
SSA and Genetics
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.1 A study based on the twins registry in Australia found that among male identical twins, when one twin had SSA, the other twin had SSA in only 11 percent of the cases.2 This lack of correspondence virtually precludes genetic determination. Otherwise, one would expect to see a higher percentage of both twins experiencing SSA.
There is also no evidence to support the claim that SSA is unchangeable. There are numerous reports of people changing their “sexual orientation,” including reports of spontaneous change, change through religious conversion, change as the result of therapy for other problems, and change as a result of reparative therapy. A large study of sexual behavior in the United States found that as people age, the percentage self-identifying as gay or lesbian declines.3 Patterns of sexual attraction are particularly unstable among women.4
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 gay or lesbian by the school community. This ignores the very real risks that accompany “coming out,” particularly for boys.
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.5 Some of these young men see their victimization as proof that they were “born” gay. Programs directed to “acceptance” rarely acknowledge or address these problems. When these problems are untreated, the boys often act out in ways that draw negative attention to themselves. The strict restriction of bullying and other mistreatment by fellow students is, of course, important, but it is equally important to identify the underlying difficulties.
A significant number of young women with SSA have been victims of sexual abuse or rape and have not had these traumas properly addressed.6 SSA is even less stable among young women than among young men with some women finding themselves attracted to men and to women at different times in their lives.7 Many adolescent girls have crushes on female teachers or coaches. With time, these feelings pass away.
High Risk of Infection: Even if an adolescent boy 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 an unacceptable risk.
While there is not as much publicity about HIV/AIDS as there used to be, new statistics from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) reveal that the epidemic among young men who have sex with men (MSM) is raging unabated.8 Adolescent girls with SSA do not face the same risk for sexually transmitted infections (STIs) as boys, although they are at risk for depression and substance abuse.
In August 2008, the CDC reported that it had underestimated the number of new cases of HIV by 40 percent.9 The report found that while new infections among heterosexuals and injection drug users are falling, new infections continue to increase among younger MSM. In 2006, the number of MSM ages 1324 diagnosed with HIV/AIDS increased by 18 percent over the previous year.10
A study of sexual risk behaviors of young (ages 1722) MSM found that 22 percent reported beginning anal sex with men when they were ages three to 14, and of these, 15.2 percent were already HIV positive. Of those who began sex when they were ages 1519, 11.6 percent were HIV positive. Of those who began sex with men when they were 2022, only 3.8 percent were HIV positive.11 It is clear that every year a male with SSA delays sexual involvement reduces his risk of HIV.
Vulnerable young men may use the internet to seek out sexual partners. Out Magazine, a publication targeted to MSM, printed an article by journalist Michael Gross on how MSM are using the Internet, posting pornographic pictures of themselves, and becoming addicted to the process of “cruising” (using the Web to find people for sexual encounters). Gross worries about the “health risks” and “psychological disassociation that is characteristic of online social life.” Men may be looking for love, but Gross suggests, “You might as well train for a marathon by doing sprints in a minefield.”12
Once a young man has exposed himself on the Internet, whatever he has posted becomes part of the public record forever. The 15-year-old boy who realizes at age 20 that his SSA was just a phase will have those pictures follow him for the rest of his life.
HIV/AIDS is not the only disease affecting MSM. The number of STIs transmitted by homosexual activity is staggering. They include Syphilis, gonorrhea, herpes, hepatitis B and C, Lymphogranuloma vernereum and Human Papillomavirus (HPV), which has been linked to genital warts and a number of cancers.13 HPV is transmitted by skin-to-skin contact, so condoms provide only minimal protection. The much-touted new HPV vaccine protects against only four of the dozens of varieties of this disease. While the four targeted strains are the most likely to lead to cervical cancer, the other dozens of strains are not affected by the vaccine, meaning that women may not be as protected from HPV as they may think.14
In some areas, the increase in Syphilis infections has been traced to an increased use of crystal meth and “high risk sexual behavior at resorts or bath houses, or through meetings initiated over the Internet.”15
MSM at high risk for infection with HIV and many other STIs: Furthermore, anyone infected with an STI is more vulnerable to HIV, and an HIV-positive person is more likely to contract another STI. According to a 2004 study, “HIV positive men who have sex with men are up to 90 times more likely than the general population to develop anal cancer.”16 Doctors recently traced outbreaks in San Francisco and Boston of Multidrug-Resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MSRA), the flesh-eating bacteria, to homosexual activity.17
As treatment for AIDS has improved and life expectancy has increased, young MSM no longer fear HIV. Many of those who start out planning to use condoms faithfully, fail to do so because they are drunk or on drugs or don’t want to send a message that they don’t trust their partner. If this is a pattern among adult MSM, it is not surprising that adolescents with MSM ignore warnings.
Education and Infections
A large study on the association of health risk behaviors and sexual orientation among adolescents concluded: “GLB youth who self-identify during high school report disproportionate risk for a variety of health risk and problem behaviors, including suicide, victimization, sexual risk behaviors, and multiple substance abuse use. In addition, these youth are more likely to report engaging in multiple risk behaviors and initiating risk behaviors at an earlier age than their peers.”18
When gay activists are asked to explain why persons with SSA are at “elevated” risk for addictions, anxiety, depression and suicidality, they usually blame the increased problems on the stress of living in a rejecting, “heterosexist” culture.19 They then use these problems to justify pro-homosexual education in schools. However, if this were true, then one would expect to see lower levels of such problems in more accepting cultures such as the Netherlands, but this is not the case.20
The hope that identifying boys with SSA and providing them with HIV prevention education will reduce the risk of STI infections is not supported by the research. According to a review of studies of HIV prevention programs, “the efficacy of health education interventions in reducing sexual risk for HIV infection has not been consistently demonstrated … More education, over long periods of time, cannot be assumed to be effective in inducing behavior changes among chronically high risk men.”21
Dr. Philip Alcabes, an epidemiologist looking at the latest CDC data said, “it looks like prevention campaigns make even less difference than anyone thought … HIV incidence did not decline as much from the 1980s to the 1990s as we believed despite the dramatic increase in condom promotion and so-called prevention education.”22 An editorial in the Lancet, the prestigious medical journal from Great Britain was even blunter, “U.S. efforts to prevent HIV have failed dismally.”23
AIDS education, which provides children and adolescents with explicit information about the various forms of sexual behavior that spread the disease, may create curiosity and encourage experimentation among young men. Because AIDS education has also been used as a vehicle for promoting positive attitudes toward homosexuality, it is possible that the number of young men experimenting with homosexuality will increase. As support groups in schools for boys who think that they might be homosexual are being set up, younger boys will be encouraged to “come out,” which will likely include engaging in sexual activity at an earlier age and more often. These young men may be attracted to the urban homosexual community, traveling to centers of homosexual activity where they are likely to encounter HIV-positive adults interested in engaging in sexual activity with attractive teenagers. This can lead to hustling (receiving money or compensation for sex), a high-risk activity.
A coalition of groups including the National Education Association released a brochure, entitled “Just the Facts about Sexual Orientation and Youth: A Primer for Principals, Educators, and School Personnel,”24 to school officials. The brochure claimed, “If school environments become more positive for lesbian, gay, and bisexual students, it is likely that their differences in health, mental health, and substance abuse will decrease.” This claim has not been borne out by experience. A notable example of this fact is the Harvey Milk school in Manhattan, which was set up to provide a safe environment for students with atypical sexual orientations and gender identities, yet in November 2003, five male students were arrested. They had for some time been intimidating other students, working as prostitutes, blackmailing their clients, stealing from trendy stores, and involved with ecstasy and cocaine.25
Adolescents experiencing SSA are suffering, and need attention and protection from those who would exploit them. Their feelings are real and should not be dismissed. Given the substantial, well-documented risks involved in engaging in homosexual activity as an adolescentand since a certain percentage of males and females who experience SSA in adolescence find that these feelings disappear in timeschools should not encourage adolescent boys or girls to “come out,” but offer positive support to deal with underlying problems. Instead of placing them at greater risk of lifelong harm by encouraging them to embrace homosexuality, educators should work with parents or other trusted guardians to provide young people struggling with SSA with counseling to deal with possible childhood sexual abuse, untreated GID, depression and other problems.
- Robert Spitzer, (2006) “Can Some Gay Men and Lesbians Change Their Sexual Orientation? 200 Participants Reporting a Change from Homosexual to Heterosexual Orientation,” (in J. Frescher, K. Zucker, eds., Ex-Gay research: Analyzing the Spitzer Study and Its Relation to Science, Religion, Politics, and Culture, Harrington House; NY) p. 35-66;
Stanton Jones, Mark Yarhouse, (2007) Ex-Gays’ A Longitudinal Study of Religiously Mediated Change in Sexual Orientation, Intervarsity Press: Downers Grove IL.
Irving Bieber et al, Homosexuality: A Psychoanalytical Study, Vintage Books: NY;
Elaine Seigle (1988) Female Homosexuality Choice without Volition, Analytic Press: Hillsdale, NJ.
- J. Michael Bailey et al. (2000) “Genetic and Environmental Influences on Sexual Orientation and its Correlates in an Australian Twins Sample,” Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, March, 78 (3) 524-536;
John de Cecco, David Parker (ed), (1995) Sex, Cells, and Same-Sex Desire: The Biology of Sexual Preference, Harrington Park Press: NY. This book presents the debate on biology. The editors conclude, “Current research into possible biological bases of sexual preference has failed to produce any conclusive evidence.”
- Edward Lauman et al. (1994) The Social Organization of Sexuality: Sexual Practices in the United States, (Chicago: University of Chicago);
K. K. Kinnish, et al. (2005) “Sexual Differences in the Flexibility of Sexual Orientation: A Multidimensional Retrospective Assessment,” Archives of Sexual Behavior, 34 (2), p. 173-83; Nigel Dickson, et al. (2003) “Same-sex attraction in a birth cohort: prevalence and persistence in early adulthood,” Social Science & Medicine, 56, p. 1607-1615.
- Lisa Diamond (2008) “Female sexuality from adolescence to adulthood: Results from a 10-year longitudinal study,” Developmental Psychology, 44 (1) p. 5-14.
- David Finkelhor,. Sharon Araji (1986) A sourcebook on child sexual abuse Beverly Hills : Sage Publications; Beitchman, J. H., Zucker, K. J., Hood, J. E., da Costa, G. A. and Akman, D. (1991), 'A review of the short-term effects of child sexual abuse', Child Abuse and Neglect, vol. 15, pp. 537 - 556.
- Judith Bradford et al. (1994) “National Lesbian Health Care Survey: Implications for Mental Health Care,” Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 62 (2), p. 228-242: “41% of the sample reported that they had been raped or sexually attacked at least one in their lives.” Of those age 17 to 24 50% reported rape or sexual abuse.”;
- Lisa Diamond, (2000) “Sexual identity, attraction and behavior among young sexual minority women over a two year period, Developmental Psychology, 36 (2) p. 241-250;
Lisa Diamond, (2008) “Female sexuality from adolescence to adulthood: Results from a 10-year longitudinal study,” Developmental Psychology, 44(1) p. 5-14.
- Kaisernetwork.org, (2008) “HIV Diagnoses Among MSM 13-24 Increased by 12% annually from 2001 to 2006, CDC Report Says,” June 27, http://www.kaisernetowrk.org/Daily_Reports/print_refort.cfm?DR_ID+52995&dr_cat=1
- David Brown (2008) “AIDS Infection Rate in U.S. Higher Than Previously Estimated,” Washington Post, Aug. 2.
- Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Review (2008) “Trends in HIV/AIDS Diagnoses among Men Who Have Sex with Men,” June 12. http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/mm5725a2,htm.
- G. Lemp et al (1994) “Seroprevalence of HIV and Risk Behaviors among Young Homosexual and Bisexual men,” Journal of the American Medical Association, 272 (6) p. 449-454.
- Michael Joseph Gross (2008) “Has Manhunt Destroyed Gay Culture? A cost-benefit analysis of our quest to get laid,” Out Magazine, Sept. 5, http://out.com/detail.asp?id=24005.
- Michael Carter (2007) “England starts enhanced surveillance for sexually transmitted infection LGV,” AIDS Map, Oct. 8.
- On HPV vaccine treating only four sources, see “Merck HPV Vaccine Effective in Preventing Infection With Four Strains Linked to Genital Warts, Cervical Cancer, Study Says,” Medical News Today, April 11, 2005 <http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/22620.php>; “
HPV Vaccine More Effective Than Thought: Merck Study Shows Partial Protection Against Additional Cancer-Causing Strains,” ABC News, September 20, 2007, <http://abcnews.go.com/Health/WomensHealth/story?id=3626353&page=1>. On there being dozens of strains of HPV, see “Human Papillomavirus,” <http://virus.stanford.edu/papova/HPV.html>.
- Joseph, Brian, (2004) “Syphilis is back,” The Desert Sun, Oct 3;
Jeffrey D. Klausner, et al (2000) Tracing a Syphilis Outbreak Through Cyberspace,” JAMA. 284, p. 447-449.
Perry Halkitis, Leo Wilton, Jack Drescher, eds. (2005) Barebacking: Psychosocial and Public Health Approaches, Haworth Medical Press: NY;
Milton Wainberg, et al. (2006) Crystal Meth and Men who Have Sex with Men: What mental health care professionals need to know, Haworth Medical Press, NY.
- Ross Cranston, et al, (2007) “The prevalence, and predictive value, of abnormal anal cytology to diagnose anal dysplasia in a population of HIV-positive men who have sex with men.” International Journal of STDS & AIDS, 18 (2) p. 77-80;
Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Review (2001) “Outbreak of syphilis among men who have sex with men Southern California, 2000,” Feb. 23.
- Lawrence Altman (2008) “New Bacteria is striking gay men,” The New York Times, Jan. 15. http://www.nytimes.com/2008/01/15/health/15infe.html?;
Bihn An Diep, et al. (2008) “Emergence of Multidrug-Resistant, Community-Associated, Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus aureus Clone USA300 in Men who have sex with men,” Annals of Internal Medicine, Feb. 19, 48 (4).
- Robert Garofalo et al. (1998) “The association between health risk behaviors and sexual orientation among a school-based sample of adolescents,” Pediatrics, 101 (5), p. 895-898.
- Susan Cochran, Vicky Mays (2007) “Physical Health Complaints among Lesbians, Gay Men, and Bisexual and Homosexually Experienced Heterosexual Individuals: Results from the California Quality of Life Survey,” American Journal of Public Health, April 26, http://www.ajph.org
- Theo Sandfort et al. (2006) “Sexual orientation and mental and physical health status,” American Journal of Public Health, June, 96 (6), p. 1119-25;
- Ron Stall, Thomas Coates, Colleen Hoff (1988) “Behavior Risk Reduction for HIV Infection among gay and bisexual men,” American Psychologist, 43 (11), p. 883.
- Lawrence Altman, (2008) “HIV Study find rate 40% higher than estimated,” The New York Times, August 3.
- www.apa.org/pi/lgbc/publications/justthefacts.html - 20k
- Ashley Cross (2003), “Gay teens’ rich milk shakedown,” New York Post, Nov. 9.
Dale O’Leary is a freelance writer, who is currently a columnist for The Boston Pilot and Sebring News Sun, and writes for the Catholic Medical Association. Her articles have been published in numerous journals, including the Providence Journal, NARTH Bulletin, and Catholic World Report. She is the author the book, One Man, One Woman: A Catholic’s Guide to Defending Marriage.
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