Saturday, November 18, 2006

Mild-Mannered Mister T Is About to Come Unglued

The Republic of T. is a neat blog by a gay dad here in Montgomery County. Terrance seems cool, he has mentioned us a few times in a positive way, he came to our forum last year. The blog motto kind of gives you an idea where he's coming from: "Black. Gay. Father. Vegetarian. Buddhist. Liberal."

Though I don't think I've never met Terrance, I always had a pretty clear picture of him in my head. Tidy, polite, thoughtful... It's half stereotype and half reading between the lines, y'know. He gives these well-considered analyses of things, intellectually clear and personal at the same time, and maybe it's that "Vegetarian. Buddhist" part, I don't know, I thought I had a handle on the guy.

I am now revising my image of Terrance of the Republic of T. Let's say ... eight feet tall, green, muscles ripping the fabric of his shirt, rows and rows of pointy teeth dripping with drool, steam-clouds shooting from his nostrils.

Terrance is waiting for one of those PFOX flyers to come home in his son's backpack. Here's part of the part I can use here.
You have not seen a pissed-off or crazed parent until the day my child comes home with a flyer like this in his backpack, and one that directs him to a website like this. Take anything you have seen, ratchet it up 10 to 20 notches and you only just begin to approach what you will have in me should you be so unwise as to pull something like this where my child is concerned. A Few Words for PFOX

Yes, this is all going to get interestinger and interestinger. T. is not alone in this. Imagine a world where the school has no choice, they have to send home any literature any organization gives them. That's our world now. It's crazy, really, and it has got to change, but as it is right now, the courts have apparently taken away the school administration's power to judge what material is and what is not appropriate to send home with students. The school district has to allow everything ... or nothing.

PFOX has lost no time inserting their twisted message through this opening. Click on that link. Look at that flyer. This is surprisingly well done, for them -- looks like they spelled everything right, even, very unusual. They must have brought in outside help on this one. (OK, this is stereotyping -- why do I keep thinking that a gay guy designed this flyer?)

The way they conceal their message is so skillful. Tell me, why would you want to tell young people that they might not be gay? I have always said, the "ex-gay" message is very clever, because the real message is hidden behind a layer of cheerful stuff that seems unoffensive. They don't really say "It's sinful and wrong to be gay," they say things like "A growing number of teens with same-sex attraction are looking beyond a gay identity to define who they are."

Ain't that heartwarming? One kid's got acne, one's voice is changing, one has same-sex attraction. It's like a Norman Rockwell painting.

I am trying to imagine the intent behind this. Let's say -- I've never seen this happen, but let's just say -- that a straight teenager became convinced he was gay, and starting going out with another boy. This is the scenario PFOX seems to be addressing. OK, so he goes out with another boy ... so what? After a while he notices that girls are catching his eye, or maybe he doesn't. Let's take the PFOX horror-movie script to its limit -- this boy and his boyfriend become lovers and end up spending their whole lives together. So what? We have said he's "really" straight, but what's the difference? OK, so he's missing out on girls, whose problem is that?

See what I mean? Even if you follow the PFOX nightmare to its most horrible outcome ... what's the problem? Who cares? Why would anybody send stuff home with schoolkids warning them against that, of all things? Isn't there a real problem somewhere these people could solve?

Well, they've opened a can of worms this time. Teachers and administrators need to have control of the school, that's all there is to it.

Terrance, what do you say about it?
I will respond in the same way I would if the Klan or neo-Nazis were distributing materials in my child’s school, because the difference is minimal to non-existant.

I will have a new mission in life. You will have all manner of hell breaking loose on your head.

And T. is not alone in this.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

So Mr. T feels like I do when I hear that they have a Rainbow coming out day announcment teacher sanctioned over the video speaker system at school with teachers encouraging kids to come out (Blair).

Or when I see Gay Lesbian Straight Alliance meeting notices plastered all over BCC.

I don't think the school has any right to be advocating that viewpoint. And it infuriates me that they are doing so.

You have to tell both sides, Jim.

Otherwise one could accuse you of being a bigot :-)

November 18, 2006 11:51 AM  
Blogger JimK said...

Tell me, Anon, who is the Gay Straight Alliance against? Who is coming out day against? These events are supportive, they're not telling anybody that they need to change, that there's something wrong with them.

Your only objection is that these announcements are addressed to someone other than you. Don't you feel the same way when the Math Club meeting is posted?

Oh, and I love the idea that tolerating differences makes someone a bigot in your book. That is great.

Nice try.


November 18, 2006 11:58 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Tell me, Jim -
Who are Ex-Gays against ?

Do you tolerate them ?
Do you accept them for who they are ?

And they are not telling anyone they need to change, they are simply pointing out that some people have changed.

I think having a coming out day and encouraging kids to self label too soon is extremely dangerous, given the increased suicide rates among kids that label themselves as gay and bi-sexual at a young age. In fact the suicide rate decreases for 20% for every year we can put off labeling.

So yes, I object to a coming out day.

November 18, 2006 12:20 PM  
Blogger JimK said...

I have no problem at all with someone who says they used to be gay and now they're not. Whether it's wishful thinking or for real, it's none of my business. If that's what this was about, there'd be no problem in any of this.

It's a cleverly crafted message, no doubt, and it's about half-clever of you to disengenuously try to play along with it. But don't come over here and try to bullshit the rest of us. The message to a gay person is that there is something wrong with them. Why else would it matter that "change is possible?" Very clever.

That's the message, and you can wrap it up however you like, but we're not falling for it. Our position is that being gay is not a sickness, it's not a choice, and if that's how you are, fine. Change is irrelevant. If you feel you need to "change," then do it. But don't go around telling other people they should do it, too, because ... shoe on other foot now ... that's none of your business.

As for your heartfelt concern about the suicide rate for gay teens ... what a crock. How about we give them a little love and support, and see what happens to that suicide rate?


November 18, 2006 12:35 PM  
Blogger Priya Lynn said...

Anonymous at November 18, 2006 12:20 PM said "Who are Ex-Gays against ?

Do you tolerate them ?
Do you accept them for who they are ?

The "exgays" are against gays. There are no "exgays" who are not also anti-gay. Their entire message is based on the hateful religious idea that its a sin to be gay, that gays should be tortured for an eternity for finding happiness in same sex love. The label is itself also a lie, contrary to what it suggests, "exgays" are not people who've changed same sex attractions into opposite sex attractions, they are simply people who oppose same sex sex in themselves and others.

If "exgays" wish to repress their sexuality, that's their choice and I tolerate them doing that, but they use themselves deceptively to create the false impression that all gays can and should change, and therefore don't deserve equal rights - I oppose those hateful actions.

November 18, 2006 2:19 PM  
Blogger Priya Lynn said...

Anonymous at November 18, 2006 12:20 PM said "In fact the suicide rate decreases for 20% for every year we can put off labeling.

I'd like to see a source for that statistic. The reason gay teenagers commit suicide is the oppressive societal and religious homophobia. That is the problem that needs to be fixed, not the gayness of teenagers.

November 18, 2006 2:23 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well, they say that you should never ask a question that you don't know the answer to in an argument, but I am going to do it anyway.

If you are correct, (the reason that gay teenagers have a much higher suicide rate than straight teenager in the US is because of the lack of acceptance) - than the rate of teen suicide among gay teenagers should be less in say Holland than here.

Is it ?

November 18, 2006 4:22 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"First and perhaps foremost is that the
lessons encourage self-labeling. Research is very conclusive in this area: the risk of suicide decreases by
20% for each year that a young person delays homosexual or bisexual self-labeling (Remafidi et al, 1991)."

November 18, 2006 4:25 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Department of Health study indicates that gay youth are up to six times more likely to attempt suicide than straight teens, and gay teenagers account for up to 30 percent of all teenage suicides in the nation.

November 18, 2006 4:40 PM  
Blogger Priya Lynn said...

Anonymous at November 18, 2006 4:25 PM

Unfortunately the Remafedi article is only available with a prescription so I am unable to verify the 20% per year claim.

However, IF this were the case it would be because the younger someone is when they go public with being gay the younger they are and the more social abuse they get from a bigoted and oppressive society. Once again, they problem is not being gay, the problem is the hateful punishement society heaps on gay teens for being that way. Older teenagers not surprisingly are better equiped to withstand the social abuse of homophobic society towards gays.

November 18, 2006 5:43 PM  
Blogger Priya Lynn said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

November 18, 2006 5:57 PM  
Blogger Priya Lynn said...

Further to my above point I found this study:

The authors note: "Reasons for these elevated rates of suicidal behaviour include a climate of homophobic persecution in schools, and sometimes in family and community...The researchers used the most conservative definition of gay orientation, those who were "unsure" about sexual orientation being excluded in reported results from this YRBS. The conservatively defined group of GLBY were three times more likely than others to have been beaten in a fight to the extent they required medical attention; they were also 1.8 times more likely to have been threatened with a weapon in the past 12 months. Twice as many "felt unsafe at school most or all of the time", and twice as many had skipped school for at least a day in the past month because of these fears".

Once again, the anti-gays that post here blame the victim for experiencing the negative effects of societal abuse rather than placing responsibility where it belongs, with the anti-gay people such as themselves.

November 18, 2006 6:23 PM  
Blogger Priya Lynn said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

November 18, 2006 6:26 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

So pick a society that you feel is kinder towards gays than ours, Randi, and look at the gay suicide rate.

Is it higher or lower than ours ?

November 18, 2006 7:19 PM  
Blogger Priya Lynn said...

Easier said than done anonymous. How do you tell if a society is friendlier to gays? Laws like equal marriage and anti-discrimination can be passed, but that doesn't force anyone to treat gays any better. You're just as capable as I am of searching for this as me, if you need to know what's stopping you?

November 19, 2006 11:33 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"The message to a gay person is that there is something wrong with them."

But that message isn't being given by the school district. It is being given by a group that will be allowed to distribute and the school district will disclaim endorsement. Not only that but the lunatic fringe groups are also allowed to distribute flyers for their support groups.

So the real message is not that there is something wrong with gays but that someone somewhere thinks there is. If you think a kid is going to grow up to be gay, it's an idea they'll need to get used to. TTF's real goal is to stifle free speech of anyone whose view differs from them.

As it is, it should be a crime to encourage any underage child to publicly identify as homosexual. They can't appreciate the consequences of such a decision. Society makes it extremely difficult to go back- and lunatic fringe gay advocacy groups are accomplices in this effort at trapping young vulnerable kids.

November 19, 2006 5:33 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anon said "TTF's real goal is to stifle free speech of anyone whose view differs from them."

It seems to me a worthy goal is to stifle bogus claims of parapsychological groups -- we should not permit dangerous enticements to be sent home with our students. Successful conversion rates of these parapsychological groups are extremely low. Some of the groups you'll find by following links in the PFOX flyer distributed at MCPS high schools do real harm to vulnerable youth.

This danger to vulnerable gay youth is nothing new; it's been going on for decades. Nothing much has changed since this review of "ex-gay" research from the early 1990's found:

"...empirical studies fail to show any evidence that conversion therapies do what they purport to do: change sexual orientation. The methodological problems with such studies will be shown to be considerable. These examples of poor science have engendered conflict among those emotionally fragile gay men and lesbians who are typical targets of conversion attempts. Many of these individuals are vulnerable to the idea of repairing in themselves what is actually society's problems: a history of rejection and discrimination based upon socially instituted homophobia. As Bryant Welch (1990), APA's executive director for professional practice, recently stated: “[these] research findings suggest that efforts to ‘repair homosexual are nothing more than social prejudice garbed in psychological accoutrements."

...Psychoanalytic treatment of homosexuality is exemplified by the work of Bieber et al (1962), who advocate intensive long-term therapy aimed at resolving the unconscious childhood conflicts responsible for homosexuality. Bieber’s methodology has been widely criticized on numerous grounds. First, his sample is entirely a clinical one. Second, all outcomes are based upon subjective therapist impression, not externally validated data or even self-report. Last, follow-up data have been poorly presented and not at all empirical in nature. Nevertheless, Bieber et al. (1962) report a meager 27% success rate in heterosexual shift after long-term therapy. Of these, however, only 18% were exclusively homosexual in the first place; 50% were bisexual. This blending of “apples and oranges” is quite common in conversion studies, and renders misleading these claims of success, which are, in this study, not impressive in the first place.

...Group therapies aimed at changing sexual orientation have provided similar contradictory results. One study of 32 subjects reports a 37% shift to heterosexuality (Hadden, 1966) but the results must be viewed with some skepticism, due to the entirely self-report nature of the outcome measures. Persons involved in such group treatments are especially susceptible to social demand influence in their own reporting of “treatment success.” Similarly, a study of 10 male homosexuals resulted in therapist impressionistic claims that homosexual patients were able to “increase contact” with heterosexuals (Mintz, 1966). Birk (1980) describes a combination insight-oriented/social learning group format for treating homosexuality. He claims that overall, 38% of his patients achieved “solid heterosexual shifts”; nonetheless, he states:

“It is my belief that these represent shifts in a person’s salient sexual adaptation to life, not a metamorphosis. Most, if not all, people who have been homosexual continue to have some homosexual feelings, fantasies, and interests. More often than not, they also have occasional, or more than occasional, homosexual outlets, even while being “happily married.” (Birk, 1980)

What, then, is the intended goal of treatment? If a “solid heterosexual shift” is defined as one in which a “happily married” person may engage in “more than occasional” homosexual encounters, what does a “soft” heterosexual shift look like? This reiterates one of the major objections to conversion studies: these interventions do not shift sexual orientation at all. Rather, they instruct or coerce heterosexual activity in a minority of subjects which is not the same as reversing sexual orientation.

...Early behavioral work in conversion therapy operated on the rationale that if certain predetermined (homosexual) behaviors could be extinguished, and if "adaptive" (heterosexual) behaviors could be substituted, the individual's sexual orientation would change. Such early behavioral studies primarily employed aversive conditioning techniques, usually involving electric shock or nausea-inducing drugs during presentation of same-sex erotic visual stimuli. Typically, the cessation of the aversive stimuli would be accompanied by the presentation of opposite-sex erotic visual stimuli, to supposedly strengthen heterosexual feelings in the sexual response hierarchy. Some programs attempted to augment aversive conditioning techniques with a social learning component -- assertiveness training, how to ask women out on dates, and so on (Feldman & McCulloch, 1965). Later, the same investigators modified their approach, calling it "anticipatory avoidance conditioning," which enabled subjects to avoid electrical shock when viewing slides of same-sex nudes (Feldman, 1966). One wonders how such a stressful situation would permit feelings of sexual responsiveness in any directions; nevertheless, a 58% "cure" rate was claimed. Again, however, the outcome criteria were defined as suppression of homosexuality, and an increased capacity for heterosexual behavior. It is not uncommon for homosexuals who have undergone aversive treatments to notice a temporary sharp decline in their homosexual responsiveness.

...Throughout all the claims of sexual orientation change, not one investigator has ever raised the possibility that such treatment may harm some participants, even in a field where a 30% “success” rate is seen as high. Many conversion investigators ascribe the treatment “failures” to lack of patient motivation or the resistance of sexual orientation to change. While the latter is certainly true, it is unethical practice for researchers not to concern themselves with the potentially harmful effects of their methods.

Gay men and lesbians who are coming out are at particular risk for the harmful effects of conversion treatments. Such individuals are often tempted to hope for sexual orientation change as a panacea during a difficult period; this makes them vulnerable targets for conversionists. One study on gay and lesbian adolescents points to the dangers of identification with the dominant (heterosexual) group as a strategy for coping with homosexuality (Hetrick & Martin, 1987a, 1987b). They state: “Denial of group membership is intimately intertwined with identification with the dominant group and, thus, with self-hatred...which can lead, in turn, to aggression against one’s own group.

...The studies reviewed here have one thing in common, in addition to their purported claims to reverse sexual orientation: namely, that they represent inadequate and misleading scientific practice. They are consistently flawed by poor or nonexistent follow-up data, improper classification of subjects (“converting” bisexuals who are not primarily homosexual in the first place), and confusion of heterosexual competence with sexual orientation shift. Pervading all of this is an atmosphere of homophobic researcher bias; that homosexual behaviors are identified as ”maladaptive” in the most openly prejudicial cases, and merely “troublesome to the individual” in the most covert. Most “troublesome” to the individual is the social prejudice facing her or him; but either way, such theoretical positions are in direct opposition to the diagnostic nomenclature decisions of both psychiatry and psychology, and the empirical evidence on the lack of inherent psychopathology in homosexuality, as reviewed by Gonsiorek in this volume. California psychologist Joseph Nicolosi, a specialist in “reparative therapy” with what he refers to as “nongay” individuals, is reported to have acknowledged that he has never had a client who left his office “cured” of homosexuality and that one of his most “successful” client, married and the father of three, still reported “homosexual fantasies that lingered like a gnat buzzing around your ear” (Buie, 1990). To promote conversion programs for something that is even acknowledged by its proponents as nearly impossible is hardly in the best interest of the consumer of psychological services."

Haldeman, D. (1991). Sexual orientation conversion therapy for gay men and lesbians: A scientific examination. In J. Gonsiorek & J. Weinrich (Eds.), Homosexuality: Research Implications for Public Poliicy. pp. 149-160. Newbury Park, CA: Sage.

November 19, 2006 10:40 PM  
Blogger andrea said...

Anon- I admit it-I am hetero. I guess you call converts away from Christianity- ex-Christians? I don't think there is such a thing as ex-gays- it is a phony idea promoted by people who can't deal with the realities of the world. However, taking your position for a moment(yuck) that there are people who are ex-gay- now they are hetero. They can join the national association of straight people.

November 20, 2006 10:18 AM  
Blogger Priya Lynn said...

Anonymous at November 19, 2006 5:33 PM said "As it is, it should be a crime to encourage any underage child to publicly identify as homosexual.".

There is nothing wrong with kids acknowledging the feelings they have. What should be a crime is the rampant persecution of these children for having those feelings. And that includes people like you who insist there is something wrong with acknowledging the truth.

November 20, 2006 12:04 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Lest anyone forget, being gay (or straight for that matter) is perfectly legal in this country. The Supreme Court said it. So let it be written, so let it be done.

November 20, 2006 5:22 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Lest anyone forget, being gay (or straight for that matter) is perfectly legal in this country."

Yes, it is. So what? Doesn't mean we don't pass on a system of morality to the next generation.

TTF constantly blurs the line between what should be permissible and what should be encouraged.

November 22, 2006 10:35 AM  
Blogger Priya Lynn said...

Gay or straight people entering into committed loving supportive relationships should definitely be encouraged.

November 22, 2006 11:07 AM  

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