Wednesday, May 04, 2011

Sprigg Gives Bad Advice

Peter Sprigg is listed as Senior Fellow for Policy Studies, whatever that is, at the Family Research Council, an anti-LGBT hate group. He also advises the Montgomery County Public Schools on their sex-ed curriculum.

Last week he published an article on the FRC's web site, discussing a recent paper in the journal Pediatrics, The Social Environment and Suicide Attempts in Lesbian, Gay, and Bisexual Youth, by Mark L. Hatzenbuehler. That paper's conclusion section states:
This study documents an association between an objective measure of the social environment and suicide attempts among lesbian, gay, and bisexual youth. The social environment appears to confer risk for suicide attempts over and above individual-level risk factors. These results have important implications for the development of policies and interventions to reduce sexual orientation–related disparities in suicide attempts.

Gay and lesbian youth have a suicide rate five times that of straight kids, and this paper shows that living in an anti-gay social environment significantly increases the probability that a young homosexual person will commit suicide. Somehow that is not shocking, and the conclusion is obvious -- if we care about these people we should work to create a social environment that is more accepting.

Oh, did I say obvious? It is not obvious to Peter Sprigg.

He focuses on the fact that the suicide rate for gay teens is still very high, even if you factor out the social variables examined in this study. Now listen to this reasoning:
In any discussion of “sexual orientation,” it is important to remember that this is only an umbrella term for three quite different things—a person’s sexual attractions, the sexual behavior, and their self-identification. In the survey upon which this study was based, there was only a single question on “sexual orientation,” which asked “which of the following best describes you.” The choices were “heterosexual (straight), gay or lesbian, bisexual” or “not sure.” This is essentially a measure of self-identification.

Therefore, the logical take-away from the study would be this: the most effective way of reducing teen suicide attempts is not to create a “positive social environment” for the affirmation of homosexuality. Instead, it would be to discourage teens from self-identifying as gay, lesbian, or bisexual. Gay Teen Suicide Study Misses the Forest for the Trees

Sprigg is more dangerous than a lot of the other nuts because he sounds like he's making sense.

It is not "important to remember" that sexual orientation is "an umbrella term for three things," because it's not. This is a totally arbitrary breakdown that begins and ends with Sprigg himself. Let's imagine that someone said that "race is an umbrella term for three things -- features such as the color of a person's skin, the person's self-presentational behavior, and their self-identification." I have white skin and Caucasian features, I walk and talk like a white person, I call myself white -- voila, by Sprigg's made-up criteria I'm white. But look, it isn't an umbrella term for three things, it's a thing in itself. If I tried to identify as a black person, I'd still be white. If I walked and talked like a black person, sorry Peter, I'm still white.

I "self-identify" as white because I'm white and I know it. I "self-identify" as heterosexual because I am. I may have misconceptions about myself, for instance I may "self-identify" as tall, but I'd simply be wrong. I am not tall because I "self-identify" as tall, in fact I am a little shorter than the average, I think.

But because Sprigg has "remembered" that sexual orientation is an umbrella term for three things, he can explain what to do about that LGBT teen suicide rate: encourage teens not to "self-identify" as gay.

This is incredible logic. I would laugh if the consequences were not so devastating -- we are talking about teen suicide here:
This study does not provide sufficient data to determine which of the three elements of “sexual orientation” (attractions, behavior, or self-identification) is most closely associated with the highly elevated risk of suicide attempts among “gay or lesbian” teens.

However, there is at least some evidence even in this study that merely self-identifying as “gay,” at least publicly, is in itself a risk factor. Hatzenbuehler, in reviewing previous research on suicide attempts by “LGB” youth, noted “earlier age at disclosure” as a “risk factor . . . associated with suicidality.” In other words, the younger a teen “comes out of the closet” and announces to the world that he or she is homosexual or bisexual, the more likely that teen is to attempt suicide.

Of course the study does not have information about the three elements of quote-sexual-orientation-unquote. Sprigg made them up. You can be pretty sure that someone who "self-identifies" as gay would also report being attracted to members of their own sex. Engaging in "homosexual behaviors" probably correlates with self-reported gay orientation, but 1.many gay youth do not engage in any sexual behaviors at all, and 2.many teens engage in sex-play with same sex others and are not gay or lesbian.

Then Sprigg makes one of his classic leaps of logic. He tells us that there is evidence in this study that mere self-identification is a risk factor. And what is that evidence? The evidence is that teens who come out at a younger age are more likely to commit suicide.

Now there are a million reasons why someone would come out of the closet at a younger age. Some people are more introspective and self-aware than others, for instance. Some people are more honest and open than others, who may conceal their true feelings from others. Even in adulthood, there are gay individuals who set off the gaydar and others who simply don't, and this is true even in a preteen population, there can be kids who will grow up to be gay but don't show any signs of it, even to themselves.

Let's say the reason some people "self-identify" as gay or lesbian at an early age is 1.they realize they are gay and lesbian at an early age, and 2.they are honest enough to share that fact with others. Sprigg's idea that they "self-identify" mistakenly, that if they had not "self-identified" as gay they would possibly have turned out straight, is absurd. If someone did mistakenly "self-identify" as gay, then at some point the evidence of their own attention and arousal patterns will accumulate and they will "self-identify" the other way. "Yeah, weird, I thought I was gay but I was wrong." I have never heard of that, but it would be no big deal if it happened. Certainly I have heard of it the other way, people "self-identifying" as straight and then realizing they are gay. Well, whatever, it's a stupid way to look at it. In the real world, someone's sense of identity is based on facts about himself or herself.

Let's see just how deep Sprigg will dig this hole. His grand finale:
Instead of encouraging homosexuality in the schools, the research would seem to support an alternative approach. It would be to send the following message:
“It is not uncommon for some young people to be confused or uncertain about their sexuality in adolescence. The vast majority of you will end up being exclusively heterosexual as adults. However, if you experience same-sex attractions, or are unsure about your sexual orientation—wait. Do not become sexually active while in school (even if you are sure you are heterosexual). Do not adopt a “sexual minority” identity. Focus on developing your intellect, your character, and non-sexual friendships. When you are an adult, you will be in a much better position to make mature decisions about your sexuality.”

Such an approach would be grounded in what the research shows about the well-being and best interests of children.

Will homosexual activists accept it?

<waves_hand_in_air> I know, I know! Call on me! Yes, Johnny. The answer is no, teacher, homosexual activists will not accept it. Very good, Johnny.

Sprigg blockquotes that one paragraph and puts the text in quotes but if he is quoting from something it is something that Google doesn't know about. I think it is something he himself made up. The bolding is his, too.

The money quote is "Do not adopt a 'sexual minority' identity." The implication of this article is that doing so will put you at risk of committing suicide later, as if "self-identifying" as gay or lesbian is itself a fatal choice.

The other way to say "Do not adopt a 'sexual minority' identity" is this: Lie to yourself and others about who you really are. It's bad advice. It would be very much better to give LGBT teens information about where they can find support, give them information about how to deal with bullies and how to go about normal teenage things like dating and dancing and interacting with potential romantic candidates. There are some resources out there for gay teens but as things are each kid pretty much has to figure it out for himself or herself.

The advice to gay and lesbian teenagers to lie to themselves and their friends about something as important as their sexual orientation is simply bad advice.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sprigg's view makes complete sense

it would be better for kids not to jump to conclusions about sexuality and focus on other things in their teen years

those who identify as gay will suffer many hardships, risks and deprivation

schools should not be encouraging kids to stow-away on the gay cruise ship

May 04, 2011 2:32 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Sprigg's view makes complete sense" for man employed by an anti-LGBT hate group.

Sprigg made up the "three quite different things" about sexual orientation so he could have a "thing" or two about himself he doesn't loath.

Society should not let homophobes who work at anti-LGBT hate groups try to get public schools to suggest kids hide in the closet like they do.

May 04, 2011 4:21 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

you have a fringe viewpoint

Sprigg's point is quite rational and mainstream

calling his organization a "hate group" doesn't help your credibility

May 04, 2011 4:30 PM  
Anonymous David S. Fishback said...

"those who identify as gay will suffer many hardships, risks and deprivation"

Two brief points in response:

1. Many of those hardships, risks and deprivations are the result of the importunings of groups that can't abide the idea that anyone can be gay and live a happy, productive life, including a family life. So it is quite odd, when you step back and look at it, for those working for such groups to say that people should stay closeted because those groups (and the ethos they promote) will make it hard for them.

2. For those who really know what their orientation is -- and that is most people, relatively early on -- the longer they hide, the more likely they will do damage to themselves. Living a lie is never good for one's psyche.

It is one thing to say that children should not label themselves prematurely; it is quite another to say that they should never label themselves at all if they happen to be gay.

May 04, 2011 5:29 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

David, life is closer to an inspiring novel than a fairy tale.

May 04, 2011 5:36 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think most of us are glad to no longer be sharing the same space as Osama bin Laden, metaphysical or otherwise. But because a long time ago it was decided that it was acceptable for major news organizations to just take polls about whatever damn thing happened to occur to them, CNN conducted a poll inquiring whether people thought Osama bin Laden was in Hell. Well, congratulations Hell: 61 percent of respondents say yes, Osama bin Laden will be spending his eternity in a special inferno-adjacent walled compound in Jahannam.

What about the other respondents? According to the poll, "one in ten" say bin Laden is not in Hell and "nearly a quarter" are "unsure." (Five percent of respondents tell CNN that they "do not believe in Hell.") According to the polling internals, the feeling that bin Laden is in Hell is most strongly felt by conservatives, especially those who express support for the Tea Party (that is essentially a critical way of breaking down polls about anything, now).

Of the folks who are uncertain of what to think about Hell, we are reminded by CNN polling director Keating Holland that: "Not all Americans believe in hell," probably thanks to a Time story by Jon Meacham.

I'm guessing that you'll probably find adherents of the hot new thing in conspiracy kookery -- the deathers, who don't believe that bin Laden is dead -- up in the mix of people who are "unsure" that bin Laden is hellbound as well.

May 04, 2011 5:49 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"The Family Research Council’s opposition to gay rights has landed the outfit on the Southern Poverty Law Center’s list of “hate groups” — a label strongly denied by the influential Christian conservative organization.

The Montgomery, Ala.-based civil-rights group named FRC in the winter edition of its Intelligence Report as one of 13 organizations it considered a hate group based on their “propagation of known falsehoods — claims about [lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender] people that have been thoroughly discredited by scientific authorities — and repeated.”

The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) says that religious and other groups that portray gays as “unbiblical” but that do so in an unvengeful manner don’t qualify as hate groups.

Rather, FRC and the other groups on the list were singled out because they have “continued to pump out demonizing propaganda aimed at homosexuals and other sexual minorities.”"

Even after FRC was named a hate group, Sprigg remains unable to stop himself from railing against sexual minorities.

George Rekkers, of Rent Boy infamy, was a co-founder of FRC. How many more self-loathing hate-spewing men does FRC employ?

May 04, 2011 8:13 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You need to read this paper!

Is Sexual Orientation Related to Mental Health Problems and Suicidality in Young People?
David M. Fergusson, PhD; L. John Horwood, MSc; Annette L. Beautrais, PhD
Arch Gen Psychiatry. 1999;56:876-880.
Conclusions Findings support recent evidence suggesting that gay, lesbian, and bisexual young people are at increased risk of mental health problems, with these associations being particularly evident for measures of suicidal behavior and multiple disorder.

National Institutes of Mental Health
90% of the individuals that die as a result of suicide suffer from one or more psychiatric disorders
- Major Depressive Disorder
- Bipolar Disorder
- Alcohol or substance abuse
- Schizophrenia
- Personality Disorders
- Major physical illness, chronic pain,
-family history of suicide

May 04, 2011 8:35 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anon, please post a link to the paper if it is so important.

Is the finding that LGBT youth are prone to mental health problems leading to suicide supposed to simply support your prejudice against them, or are you acknowledging that growing up in a society that is prejudiced against you is bad for you?

May 04, 2011 9:03 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

did you ever consider that gays are depressed because they've become unable to function in the way the Creator intended and they are missing out on a vital part of what it means to be alive?

or do you want to listen to ideas that simply support your preconceived notions?

just a thought

May 04, 2011 9:52 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Suicide is high among women in India who bear daughters, as is female infanticide and the aborting of female fetuses. Do you think that means Indian mothers of girls are mentally ill or could it be India's society that leads to these deaths?

May 05, 2011 8:35 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

the last remark was irrelevant

thanks to Peter Sprigg, the best advisor on family issues that MCPS has

once again, he has seen through the blur and gay agenda misinformation and provided a perspective useful to parents

good advice

May 05, 2011 9:24 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Are you disagreeing with the NIMH’s assessment of the cause of suicides in the US? Are you saying that in all cases GLBT’s reason for suicides is not attributed to mental health issues? Transgenderism is a mental health issue so you need to take out the “T” in the “GLBT” group.

May 05, 2011 10:51 AM  
Anonymous David S. Fishback said...

I just looked at the 1999 Ferguson New Zealand study touted by one of the Anons. It found higher rates of suicide, but reported that the data available to the researchers did not establish either way whether the social environment making it difficult for gay people was a factor in the higher rate.

Then I looked at the 2011 Hatzenbuehler Oregon study, which looked at that precise question and found the corollary that the 1999 study could not say yea or nay about.

May 05, 2011 11:49 AM  
Anonymous that's a real shame said...

as a general rule, David, foreign studies are more objective than domestic ones because the gay agenda is so powerful in the U.S.

in the final analysis, however, what causes people to kill themselves is subjective so you'll again have to learn to live with the fact that the gay agenda can't be empirically certified

"American voters approve 52 - 40 percent of the job President Barack Obama is doing, his highest score in almost two years and up from a 46 - 48 percent approval among voters surveyed before the president announced the death of Osama bin Laden, according to a Quinnipiac University poll released today.

This is President Obama's highest job approval since a 57 - 33 percent score in a July 2, 2009, survey by the independent Quinnipiac University.
Voter approval of Obama's handling of foreign issues also is up this week.

But Obama's 20-point negative score for handling the economy is unchanged and voter attitudes on whether he deserves reelection are only slightly improved.

Voters surveyed after the bin Laden announcement say 46 - 42 percent that the president deserves to be reelected, compared to a negative 45 - 48 percent before bin Laden.

"The killing of Osama bin Laden has helped President Barack Obama's popularity but not massively," said Peter A. Brown, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute. "They have not changed their minds about his stewardship of the economy. The number of people opposed to his reelection has dropped, although they seem to have moved to 'undecided,' rather than to the pro-Obama column," Brown added

May 05, 2011 12:58 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

As usual, Sprigg fails to see his views are hateful and harmful. That failure explains why his suggestions and advice, far from being the best, are so often voted down on the MCPS committee.

Very recently again, Sprigg was on the losing side of the MCPS committee's 9-3 vote to add five statements about homosexuality from American professional medical and mental health associations recommended to MCPS by members of the American Academy of Pediatrics to be added to the sex ed curriculum. He, with his degree in political science said these statements were political (no Peter, your statements are political, certainly not scientific) and even said he'd bring all the forces he could muster to stop the AAP's recommendation from being added to the curriculum by a vote of his peers.

Will Sprigg muster another out of state legal firm to file another frivolous lawsuit against MCPS and lose again?

May 05, 2011 3:34 PM  
Anonymous David S. Fishback said...

"as a general rule, David, foreign studies are more objective than domestic ones because the gay agenda is so powerful in the U.S."

So all of our scientists are ideologues who ignore the facts? How convenient for you.

My main point in juxtaposing the two studies is that the first one was done in 1999, when, apparently in New Zealand, over 20 years, they had not formed the research to try to assess any cause an effect between hostile living situations and the suicide rate. This was done in the 2011 Oregon study, and the results were not at all suprising.

If people wish to rely on the 2011 Oregon study, they are being disingenuous if they rely on conclusions that fit their preconceptions and then ignore the related conclusions that contradict their preconceptions. I've been dealing with these sorts of tactics since 2003. So what else is new?

May 05, 2011 6:33 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"So all of our scientists are ideologues who ignore the facts?"

no, just the ones who have survived in the politically pressured world of sexuality studies

the contrast with scientists of other nations is striking

May 05, 2011 10:19 PM  

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