Last June the American Medical Association (A.M.A.) voted into official policy a resolution that says it is a health risk to ban "avowed homosexuals" from youth organizations because "discriminatory policies increase the risk of suicide and depression among gay-oriented youth."
It is true that boys who identify themselves as "gay" are at high risk for a number of problems including suicidal ideation and depression. If discrimination is defined as believing that homosexual acts are contrary to the moral law and homosexuality not equal to heterosexuality, then there is no question significant "discrimination" exists.
The vast majority of parents do not want their children to become homosexual. In fact, research suggests that a significant percentage of homosexuals do not believe homosexuality is as desirable as heterosexuality.1
The AMA appears to have accepted the unsubstantiated claim that the numerous psychological problems and self-destructive behavior found among persons who self-identify as gay, lesbian, or bisexual (GLB) are caused by societal discrimination. It has ignored substantial evidence that these negative outcomes are related to the homosexuality itself.
Garofalo et al.2 document the lifestyle factors associated with GLB adolescents in a study of 4,159 students, 9th to 12th grade, in Massachusetts, of which 104 (2.5%) self-identified as GLB.
The GLB students were more likely than non-GLB students to have engaged in 30 different high health risk behaviors, including the following:
|gay, lesbian, bisexual (GLB)||yes (2,5%)||no (97,5%)|
|Alcohol use (<age 13)||59.1%||30.4%|
|Cocaine use (<age 13)||17.3%||1.2%|
|Inhalant use (life)||47.6%||18.5%|
|Ever had sexual intercourse||81.7%||44.1%|
|Three or more sexual partners (life)||55.4%||19.2%|
|Alcohol or drug use at last sexual episode||34.7%||13.3%|
|Sexual contact against will||32.5%||9.1%|
According to the study, "students with six or more sexual partners in their life were 7.62 times more likely to be classified as GLB than were students who had never had sexual intercourse." And the greater the number of lifetime sexual partners, the greater the risk of contracting an STD.
Garofalo et al. clarify that their sample does not include adolescents who have dropped out of school. The authors conclude that: "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 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."
The authors blame the problem on social "stigmatization" - but present no evidence to show that this is the case. They recommend educational programs, but present no evidence that such programs will actually prevent the problems cited.
It is clear from the Garofalo study that boys who self-identify as "gay" are engaging in behaviors that put them at high risk for contracting HIV. According to a recent Centers for Disease Control3 study, among men who have sex with men (MSM):
|HIV positive: age 15 to 19 years||5.6%|
|HIV positive: age 20 to 22 years||8.6%|
|HIV positive: age 23 to 29 years||13%|
Those who encourage boys to self-identify as gay at an early age argue that "coming out" will raise the boy's self-esteem, allow him to receive safer sex (condom) education, and, therefore protect him from HIV infection. The figures show that, in spite of all the condom education and support for "coming out," among young MSM the percentage infected with HIV is increasing. When an adolescent boy begins to have sex with men, he is more likely to take risks and become infected than a man in his later 20s and 30s.
The AMA blames gay teens' suicidal feelings and depression on the Boy Scout policy and other institutional forms of social discrimination, but three new well-designed studies reveal that psychiatric problems, including suicidal ideation and depression, are common among homosexual men, not only in the United States, but also in New Zealand, and the Netherlands.
1) The Netherlands is noted for its tolerance of many forms of sexual deviation. Sandfort et al.4 compared lifetime prevalence of DSM-III-R Psychiatric Disorders in homosexual and heterosexual men in that country. The study found significant differences:
|Homosexual (men)||Heterosexual (men)|
|One or more diagnoses||56.1%||41.4%|
|Two or more diagnoses||37.8%||14.4%|
2) Another study by Fergusson et al.5 of a birth cohort in New Zealand also found significant differences between GLB and non-GLB youth. The persons in this study were chosen at birth and followed to age 21. This kind of study eliminates sampling bias. At age 21, 2.8% of the cohort selfidentified as GLB. When they were compared to the non-GLB group there were significant differences:
|gay, lesbian, bisexual (GLB)||yes (2,8%)||no (97,2%)|
|2 or more psychiatric disorders, ages 14-21||78.6%||38.2%|
3) Herrell et al.6 studied twins in a group of male Americans who were part of a larger study and found that those who had had sex with a man were significantly more likely to have attempted suicide. The twins were divided into 4 categories and the percentage who attempted suicide are as follows:
|Twins who were both heterosexual||2.2%|
|Heterosexual twin with homosexual co-twin||3.9%|
|Homosexual twin with heterosexual co-twin||14.7%|
|Twins both homosexual||18.8%|
Young MSM are clearly at risk for depression and suicide, but that risk is not equally distributed within that population. According to Gary Remafedi7 who has published several articles on the subject of gay-identified adolescents and suicide, six studies of homosexual youth compared attemptors and non-attemptors. They found that suicide attempts were significantly more common among gender-nonconforming males, those who had an early awareness of homosexuality, those with family problems, and those who abused drugs or had other psychiatric problems.
In one of the studies referenced, Remafedi et al.8 studied 137 gay and bisexual males aged 14 to 21 of which 41 reported a suicide attempt, almost half of them reported multiple attempts. According to the article: "Compared with non-attempters, attempters had more feminine gender roles and adopted a bisexual or homosexual identity at younger ages. Attemptors were more likely than peers to report sexual abuse, drug abuse, and arrests for misconduct."9
Here are a few of the key differences. Notice that gender-identity problems are a key indicator; also, note that the non-attemptors are hardly problem-free:
|Suicide attempt||yes (29,9%)||no (70,1%)|
|Victim of sexual abuse||61%||29%|
|Illicit drug use||85%||63%|
The differences between the attemptors and non-attemptors in the Remafedi study suggest that suicide attempts are related to specific problems - namely untreated Gender Identity Disorder (GID) and unidentified and untreated trauma associated with sexual abuse. Adolescent prostitution is frequently a sign of previous childhood sexual abuse. Drug and alcohol use, suicide, and depression have also been linked to a history of childhood sexual abuse.
The American Medical Association has presented no evidence that not being admitted into the Boy Scouts is a significant factor for the above mentioned problems, or that admission would ameliorate the underlying problems.
Still, there are things which can be done.
1. Aggressive diagnosis and treatment of boys with childhood gender-identity disorder (GID). These boys are at higher risk for almost every negative outcome. GID is easy to recognize. The parents know, the neighbors know, the teachers know, and the pediatricians know that these boys have a problem. Yet pediatricians often fail to recommend treatment, even though treatment - particularly when begun early - can be successful in eliminating the symptoms10. Many parents report that even when they specifically express concern to their pediatrician, they are told not to worry - the boy will get over it. This optimism is not born out by the research, which suggests that boys with childhood GID are at high risk for a number of negative outcomes.
Boys with GID are extremely likely to be victimized by bullies and targeted by pedophiles. It has been estimated that without intervention 75% will become sexually attracted to males and engage in same-sex behavior11. Given the high rate of HIV among MSM, the parents' concerns are fully justified. While there is no guarantee that treatment will prevent same-sex attraction in adolescence, it can alleviate the problems associated with GID in childhood. These are troubled children who need help.
Why has the AMA not promoted aggressive treatment of GID in boys when the negative consequences are so well-documented? In giving out blame for the problems of adolescents who self-identify as gay why does not at least some of the responsibility rest on pediatricians and teachers who failed to recommend treatment when the symptoms were first noted?
2. The AMA can alert health-care professionals and educators to the link between sexual child abuse and various negative outcomes.
Gay activists have mounted a worldwide campaign aimed at encouraging adolescent boys experiencing confusion about their sexual attraction pattern to "come out." Many of these boys have been victims of sexualized child abuse. Boys may think they are homosexual because they were targeted by a male pedophile, or because in spite of the humiliation, they also experienced pleasurable sensations during the abuse. Therapy directed at addressing this trauma could be beneficial.
What are the options when a teenager experiences same-sex attractions - but he also wants to be a Boy Scout?
1. He could choose to self-identify as "gay." In doing so he will identify with a community whose values and interests are antithetical to those of the Boy Scouts. The gay community aggressively promotes sexual liberation without guilt or restrictions. Their attitudes toward lowering the age of consent, prostitution, and extreme sexual behaviors are well-documented. Drug and alcohol abuse is also widespread in this community. This choice between these two worlds is a serious one, and no boy should be rushed into making it.
2. Or the boy could postpone self-identification as gay, not act on his attractions, concontinue his membership in the Boy Scouts, and hope that the attractions will diminish or disappear. In time they may; but even if they do not, and at a later stage he does choose to identify as "gay," postponing selfidentification will still have lowered his personal risk for contracting HIV and other negative outcomes.
3. The boy can seek help for these attractions. Counseling which should be directed toward helping him identify and deal with the childhood conflicts and traumas. The Boy Scouts is not equipped to provide this kind of therapy, and unfortunately, therapy of this kind for adolescents is not universally available.
Sexual Revolutionaries, gay activists, and their collaborators have developed a strategy for forwarding their agenda. They publicize a real problem - in this case high risk behavior among adolescents who selfidentify as GLB. They promise to fix the problem with more education. "Give us all your children," they say, "and we will make things better." The result is predictable: things get worse. The problem increases. Then the activists use their own failure to justify their demand for more money, more power, more programs, more "education." And guess what: the problem gets even worse. Their failures cost lives - as the latest figures on HIV among young men who have sex with men demonstrate.
They continue to use this strategy because they know that they will never be held accountable by the media and because high-profile organizations can be manipulated into supporting their agenda. And then to add insult to injury they turn around and blame the problems produced by their programs on the people who really care, who really want to protect children.
1 Shidlo, A. "Internalized Homophobia: Conceptual and Empirical Issues." In Green, B., Herek, G. Lesbian and Gay Psychology. Thousand Oaks CA: Sage 1994, p. 176-205.
2 Garofalo, R., Wolf, R., Kessel, S., Palfrey, J., DuRant, R., "The association between health risk behaviors and sexual orientation among a school-based sample of adolescents (Youth Risk Behavior Survey)", Pediatrics, Vol. 101, No. 5, 1998 p. 895-903.
3 Mortality and Morbidity Weekly Report, "HIV Incidence Among Men who Have sex with Men - Seven US Cities 1994-2000", June 01, 20001/50: 440-444, from the Internet. HIV Listserv Manager, Centers for Disease Control & Prevention, National Center for HIV, STD & TB Prevention, Divisions of HIV/AIDS Prevention, (http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/ mm5021a4.htm#tab1), HIV/AIDS Surveillance Report (Year-end 1999 Edition), Vol. 11, No. 2.
4 Sandfort, T. et al. "Same-Sexual Behavior and Psychiatric Disorders“, Archives of General Psychiatry 2001, Vol. 58. p. 85-91.
5 Fergusson, D. et al. "Is sexual orientation related to mental health problems and suicidality in young people?" Archives of General Psychiatry. 1999, Vol. 56, No. 10. p. 875-880.
6 Herrel, R. et al. "Sexual Orientation and Suicidality." Archives of General Psychiatry. Vol. 56, No. 10, 1999, p. 867-874.
7 Remafedi, G., Farrow, J., Deisher, R., "Risk Factors for Attempted Suicide in Gay and Bisexual Youth." Pediatrics, Vol. 87, No. 6 June. 1991, p. 869-875. Remafedi, G."Sexual Orientation and Youth Suicide." Journal of the American Medical Association, 1999, Oct. 6. Vol. 282, No. 13. p. 1291.
8 Remafedi et al. (1991).
9 Remafedi et al. (1991), p. 869.
10 Zucker, K., Bradley, S. (1995) Gender Identity Disorder and Psychosexual Problems in Children and Adolescents. New York: Guilford. Bradley, S., Zucker, K. (1998) "Drs. Bradley and Zucker reply." Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry. Vol. 37, No. 3, p. 244-245.
11 Zucker (1995)
Textnachweis: O´Leary, Dale, Amerikanisches Original: AMA`s Resolution Puts Boys at Risk, Heartbeatnews, vol. 20, Juni 21, 2001,