"There is always a philosophy for lack of courage."—Albert Camus

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

The Cry Beneath The Silence

(This is a very brief slice of a very large topic. It deserves much more space; perhaps some day when life is less hectic. For now this is the extent of my available time and energy.)

A famous thinker once said: “God is in the details.” To which a noted architect responded: “The Devil is in the details.” Both were right. But in my slot at Bartlett’s Familiar Quotations, I hope this bit of insight survives: “God is in the premises. The Devil is in the premises.” In the words of Rabbi Abba Berman, a great Talmud scholar who recently passed on: “From your viewpoint, you’re right. It’s your viewpoint that’s wrong.”

Indeed it is not too much to say that whenever the Reaganite position loses the debate in the public arena, it is not because it reasoned poorly from the premise. It is because the other side had managed to slip in an unchallenged premise that corrupted the entire dialogue.

And so the great adventure of reforming the culture is most challenging when the target is a premise that has hardened into a pillar. The most pernicious of these, the capstone of evil in our time, the rawest, crudest, crassest, grossest of them all is the one that was on display last week in the Day of Silence observed around the country’s schools. Sadly, sadly, sadly, conservatives have not mounted any resistance to the premise, so whatever quibbles they register against its offshoots are turned, win or lose, into an exercise in futility.

The Day of Silence is to empathize with the silence that is said to be forced upon gay and lesbian teenagers. The Ninth Circuit Court just issued a decision that schools may prevent students from making such statements as: “The Bible says that homosexual behavior is shameful.” Many conservatives are debating and appealing the ruling while decrying the Day as unnecessary and gratuitously provocative. But no one challenges the premise, the horrid, horrible, horrific premise. Namely, that there is such a thing as a “gay teenager”.

Don’t take my word for it. Open your ears, listen carefully. When a high school opened for gays in New York City in the late 1980s, the debate focused on whether isolating them in a separate school was helpful or counterproductive. When people call laissez-faire psychologists like Dr. Joy Browne or strict moralists like Dr. Laura Schlessinger to ask how to deal with their high-schoolers who have “come out” as gay, the only difference in the answer is that Browne says to embrace it while Schlessinger says to be understanding without endorsing. But no one, no one at all, no liberal, no conservative, has the simple honesty, sense and courage to say the commonsensical truth; namely, that every teenager is mixed up about sex and has no clue what he or she “is” or “is not”.

This is a subject that deserves to be treated in a very long treatise. But in our short format today, we can ask ourselves simple questions that highlight obvious verities. Who among us did not experience moments of utter humiliation in approaching members of the opposite sex? How many of us can declare that we never doubted our masculinity or femininity during such moments of humiliation? If a seducer of the same sex played his or her cards right in that moment, was there no vulnerability there? Be honest.

Or look at it from the other side. It is a simple fact that homosexuals try to seduce people to try their way. A practicing psychologist showed me gay magazines that specifically advocated “breaking in” new recruits. In my own life, I was hit on by men a number of times, and when I politely said “I’m not gay”, every one of them kept trying, saying it would be fun, etcetera. Quite a few girls have described to me the exact same experience, eerily almost word-for-word. So if some kid, lonely with rejection by the opposite sex, flattered by same-sex attention, indulges a time or two and thinks that he or she is now gay, should a responsible parent or teacher take that declaration as fact, not subject to discussions, counseling, deliberation and reconsideration?

Furthermore, most teenage socializing is in same-sex environments. Even in coed schools, kids generally cluster in gender-segregated packs. Small experimental ventures into sexual activity cannot reasonably be extrapolated into a lifetime preference. Things happen sometimes in schools, in armies, in jails, when access is more or less limited to the same gender, that do not reflect life in the bigger world. A youngster who had such an experience during a formative period is likely to think that this reveals his or her “true self”.

Truthfulness and compassion demand that we counsel those children, that we tell them they are still young, they are still confused, they do not have all their skills, they do not have all their maturity, they do not have all their resources, and that they need to calm down, get their schooling, not let their doubts fester in their minds, and work their way healthily toward adulthood without some label that was applied through ignorance and self-doubt.

24 comments:

Tlaloc said...

"In the words of Rabbi Abba Berman, a great Talmud scholar who recently passed on: “From your viewpoint, you’re right. It’s your viewpoint that’s wrong.”"

Classic.



"Indeed it is not too much to say that whenever the Reaganite position loses the debate in the public arena, it is not because it reasoned poorly from the premise."

Uh maybe you should reread the good Rabbi's words above. You are insisting that the Reagan view is right. Well from your perspective it is...
see where I'm going?



"But no one challenges the premise, the horrid, horrible, horrific premise. Namely, that there is such a thing as a “gay teenager”."

Why would they? It's established that there is a genetic component to homosexuality thanks to twins studies (although how big a component it is is not certain). Furthermore homosexuality is not something to be discouraged.



"The Ninth Circuit Court just issued a decision that schools may prevent students from making such statements as: “The Bible says that homosexual behavior is shameful.”"

Are you talking about the Tshirt case? Dude, it's called a dress code.
http://www.mercurynews.com/mld/mercurynews/news/local/states/california/northern_california/14389525.htm



"But no one, no one at all, no liberal, no conservative, has the simple honesty, sense and courage to say the commonsensical truth; namely, that every teenager is mixed up about sex and has no clue what he or she “is” or “is not”."

We can easily make the same claim about teens and religion. Should we then deny that any teen can be christian or jewish or muslim? I somehow suspect you'd object to the shuttering of all youth religious organizations on the basis that they can't know if they "are" or "are not."



"If a seducer of the same sex played his or her cards right in that moment, was there no vulnerability there? Be honest."

Oh yeah I forgot: homos are made by sexual predators. Right. Wasn't that canard retired about twenty years ago, Jay?



"It is a simple fact that homosexuals try to seduce people to try their way."

No it isn't. Foster kids of Gay parents for instance show no higher incidence of homosexuality. If gays were trying to recruit they'd obviously be the most vulnerable population. Gender identity is more fundamental than whether you like coke or pepsi.



"A practicing psychologist showed me gay magazines that specifically advocated “breaking in” new recruits."

Referecnes?



"In my own life, I was hit on by men a number of times, and when I politely said “I’m not gay”, every one of them kept trying, saying it would be fun, etcetera. Quite a few girls have described to me the exact same experience, eerily almost word-for-word."

Interesting, that's never happened in my life, nor been mentioned to me by any friends. And I grew up in Eugene which is about the 2nd most queer friendly place on earth.



"Small experimental ventures into sexual activity cannot reasonably be extrapolated into a lifetime preference."

Certainly true. Some amount of experimentation is generally to be expected. But the kids who only experiment aren't the ones who then come out of the closet.



"Truthfulness and compassion demand that we counsel those children, that we tell them they are still young, they are still confused, they do not have all their skills, they do not have all their maturity, they do not have all their resources, and that they need to calm down, get their schooling, not let their doubts fester in their minds, and work their way healthily toward adulthood without some label that was applied through ignorance and self-doubt."

Will you apply the same standard to all aspects of forcing religion on children? I.e. no kids in church, no youth camps, no bible schools, nothing whatsoever that allows them to be tarred with "some label that was applied through ignorance and self-doubt?"

Evanston said...

Jay, when I was a Captain in the Marine Corps my brother lived with me. He was an amateur actor. He knew several homosexuals, and they were welcome at my house. One repeatedly tried to "seduce" me (or choose whatever word you wish, TLALOC) even though I made clear that (a) I was not a homosexual, nor had such desires and (b) such conduct would endanger my career. The guy in question didn't care one bit about my desires, or my career. Now, I do not wish to generalize about all homosexuals based on this experience, just to validate yours in contrast to TLALOC's evidently benign experience. I also agree with all your major points, and disagree with TLALOC:
1. Genetic basis for homosexuality? Provide references.
2. Dress code? No doubt there is substantial precedent for schools to censor communication, including "messages" (such as gang affiliation) conveyed by how students dress. When one side of an issue is censored, however, at least acknowledge it as fact instead of merely mentioning that it's legal for a school to censor.
3. Regarding censorship of other messages (such as the religious ones you mentioned), you're absolutely right, "shuttering all religious youth organizations" on the basis that young folks do not know what they "are" or "are not" is something that conservatives would not support. Yet, religion is largely an intellectual exercise for youth. Sexual preference (and "recruiting" thereof) is the advocacy of an activity. Film clubs take photographs and talk about them, religious clubs read scripture and talk about them, and gay clubs do what? Recruit for their sexual activity. And use enlightened folks such as yourself to censor those who oppose them.
4. Jay's "canard" about sexual seduction wasn't retired about 20 years ago, certainly not in my life (see attempted seduction by my brother's "friend" above, that may have succeeded on an unsure, immature youth). But perhaps your mind was closed about 20 years ago?
5. Do you have references for studies about foster kids in gay households, and, taking a step back, I wonder how long foster parents have openly engaged in homosexual behavior around their kids? This wasn't acceptable when I was a kid, in the 1970s, and I'm not sure when exactly foster parents could be gay without being dropped from state programs. Put another way, how much long-term data is there, really, on this subject?
6. How do you know that experimentation doesn't result in long-term behavior? This is only valid if I accept your premise that homosexuality is genetically hard-wired and not a choice. One of my siblings, in fact, has made the choice to be many things to many people, depending on the circumstances, if you know what I mean. We ARE creatures of habit, and ALSO are influenced by those around us. Advertising wouldn't be worth the expenditure if you couldn't influence people's behavior. Nor would honest educators say that they cannot change behavior, otherwise they wouldn't engage in the "socialization" (to use a neutral term) we see in schools. Bottom line: we are social animals, and while many people assert that sexual preference is genetically hard-wired and cannot be changed, excuse me for questioning that as a "canard." In the nature vs. nurture question, I believe nurture has extreme power (including the ability to mix up sexual roles due to childhood neglect or abuse).

Overall, you're right, conservatives believe that homosexuality is an unnatural and destructive lifestyle to the individual and society. At the risk of repeating myself, a backgammon club would have its members play backgammon and discuss the game. Religious organizations for youth read literature and talk about it. Gay clubs? I hold them in the same regard, or worse, than a "Smoke Pot Club" or "Porno Club."

Tom Van Dyke said...

A very nice essay, Jay. One may be convinced that homosexual conduct is harmful to the individual (regardless of more or less disposition toward it), but I think that most reasonable people who feel that way are not moral police.

If there were no such thing as children, I think you'd have written a different essay.

But there are. And neither is it settled just what the effect of homosexual activity is on the individual, or the child, or the adolescent, just because the American Psychiatric Association voted 60-40 it's A-OK.

We can no longer look to the social sciences for any further honest inquiry, I think. That's that. And if the legal equation of homo- and heterosexuality ends up damaging society? An irrational fear, you homophobe. No way that could happen! The APA voted it's all the same. 60-40.

"A gay couple came to see me, seeking my support and blessing. I had to explain our teachings. Another lady introduced another woman as her wife - astonishing. It is the same with a husband and wife using certain sexual practices. Using the other two holes is wrong."

Bet you didn't know that the Dalai Lama is a homophobe and a hatethoughtcriminal. True fact.

James Elliott said...

Jay's "canard" about sexual seduction wasn't retired about 20 years ago, certainly not in my life (see attempted seduction by my brother's "friend" above, that may have succeeded on an unsure, immature youth). But perhaps your mind was closed about 20 years ago?

Did you ever wonder if maybe the guy thought your denials were funny?

Mrr? Anyways, whether it's retired or not, it's still a canard. I'm going to repeat another canard: The plural of anecdote is not data. I live in the Bay Area, the world's most queer-friendly place. I go to lots of gay nightspots with my gay friends. Never predatorally hit on.

Seriously, take away the "gay" part, and Jay (and you) just described every college woman's experience in a bar. Overly-aggressive hitting on people they're attracted to? No! Surely not from straight people, too?

5. Do you have references for studies about foster kids in gay households, and, taking a step back, I wonder how long foster parents have openly engaged in homosexual behavior around their kids? This wasn't acceptable when I was a kid, in the 1970s, and I'm not sure when exactly foster parents could be gay without being dropped from state programs. Put another way, how much long-term data is there, really, on this subject?

About twenty years worth. Adopted/foster/biological children of gays do not experience homosexuality in any increased numbers over normal societal trends The permissibility of gays as foster/adopt parents varies from state. Some, like Utah and Florida, are homophobic. Most are pretty good about it. Some, like California, with the largest population of foster kids in the country, are (no pun intended) rather liberal about it. There was only one study that found increased incidence of homosexual victimization/activity among foster children; fortunately, its methodology consisted of cherry-picking news stories from Lexis-Nexis, so no one with half a brain takes the subject seriously. Hi, James Elliott, Master's of Social Welfare. Nice to meet you. Thanks for stepping onto my turf.

As for the rest of your post: Please, for the love of the future, don't breed. Or if you do, don't ever speak to your children.

James Elliott said...

"We can no longer look to the social sciences for any further honest inquiry, I think."

Spoken like a man for whom the facts are not on his side. Of course, that's the essence of "truthiness." He doesn't know facts, he knows things. He knows them not with his head, but with the whole of his heart.

"A gay couple came to see me, seeking my support and blessing. I had to explain our teachings. Another lady introduced another woman as her wife - astonishing. It is the same with a husband and wife using certain sexual practices. Using the other two holes is wrong."

The need for restraint is killing me. Must... not... disrespect Dalai Lama. Family site... family site! Dear God, think of the children!

Okay. So, I think Irving Kristol (of all people) said it best when he wrote that he saw no reason why anyone should get all worked up over a behavior we know has been with us for at least three thousand years.

That homosexuality carries consequences that can be very damaging to the homosexual is certainly true. Now, the real question is this: Is it damaging because of its nature, or because of society's reaction? That seems to be a question this site hasn't honestly asked.

mjwatson said...

Great post.

For the most part, unfortunate discussion.

Again.

Tom Van Dyke said...

But what is data but a systematized collection of anecdotes, James?

The negative anecdotes illustrate why the social sciences cannot affirm that "x is not harmful." The best it can do is conclude that x tends not to be harmful, if that.

But the social sciences are an inadequate tool to even discern what is harmful except in the most materialistic of ways. It aspires to value-free; how can it discern values? How can it say one is happy?

This is the failure of the modern project. It cannot begin to answer, or even ask, the first philosophical question what is good?

Now, I'm fond of bringing up the Dalai Lama because Buddhism is not a "religion" in the sense used by political philosophy to juxtapose it to reason: it has no bible, no claim of a divine revelation that trumps reason. Its sexual ethics are derived solely by reason, although not by a reductionist or materialist, a value-free, if you will, ethics.

And so, even an enlightened fellow like yourself cannot engage his reason on its own terms without pejorative, or that of his Western equivalents without unholstering "homophobe."

That is why your very good question

That homosexuality carries consequences that can be very damaging to the homosexual is certainly true. Now, the real question is this: Is it damaging because of its nature, or because of society's reaction?

will probably not be answered on this site. Firstly, because of the copious nonsense that has once again sent all sane readers away, secondly, because none of us (me) is interested in having their human decency questioned, and third because nobody's really interested in bashing or even judging gay folk.

So, if I second Jay and relate the tearful anger of a young man of my acquaintance at the "chickenhawks," the older men who initiated him into the gay lifestyle, that is just an anecdote. His pain was no less real.

There are cardboard human beings who psychotically hate gay folk based on a few passages from a 2000-year-old book, but I (we) are not them. No, I don't think it was society that was making David so unhappy.

I don't have any children, but I would never want to see my child in his state. And so, those of my ilk quietly vote "no" when our democracy allows us to register our conclusions on whether all sexualities are equivalent.

(In answer to Mr. Watson's post, I have decided to delete certain posts that hinder fruitful discussion. The thread reads much better now. Keep 'em short, folks.)

Jay D. Homnick said...

Between the ages of 29 and 32 (February 1988 to August 1990) I was living in Israel and I was involved in a mentoring program for young college students from the U.S. and Canada. They would take a year abroad, participate in our program which included both lectures and informal learning settings such as historical tours, have a good time, learn a thing or two, and head home with some college credit.

I was strictly there for one-on-one mentoring and occasional group discussions, no classroom teaching.

Some of those students keep up with me to this day; they include a Harvard attorney, a McGill MBA, a theater director in San Diego, and a university chaplain in England. One of them was in contact for a few years, completed his PHD in psychology, got married in Canada and then moved back to Israel.

Recently, I picked up a magazine and read a very well-thought-out, very well-presented piece by this psychologist. In it he described his practice, which is devoted almost exclusively to people struggling with what he calls SSAs (same-sex attractions). Some are married with children, others want to marry and have families. Many succeed in their quests, although they continue to contend with those impulses.

After reading the article, I sent him a letter congratulating him both on this choice of vocation and for the lucid expression of his goals and approaches.

He wrote back, saying: "It was you who inspired me to do this." Shocked, I read on.

"One time I asked you in disgust how it is possible for people to have such an unnatural attraction. You answered me that I had to understand that the sexual connection really contradicts the usual flow of human relationships. Most social situations, certainly in youth, involve seeking out people who are similar. We look for people of the same background, the same interests, to establish as much of a comfort zone as possible."

"Suddenly, sexuality appears and demands a contrary matrix. Instead of looking for the familiar and the similar, we are asked to seek the other and the different. We should hardly be surprised when some people don't succeed in making that adjustment and follow in their sexual search the same pattern they used in searching for friends and sporting companions."

"Because you gave me this insight and helped me see that this involved human behavior that could elicit my empathy, I committed to help people who CHOSE to struggle against that impulse, help them to find the tools within themselves to achieve the balance that they seek."

Naturally, I had long forgotten this exchange. It didn't even ring a bell when he reproduced it in detail. But I'm proud that in those youthful years of intellectual ferment I was able to put ideas out there that bear fruit in increased human happiness to this day.

James Elliott said...

And so, even an enlightened fellow like yourself cannot engage his reason on its own terms without pejorative, or that of his Western equivalents without unholstering "homophobe."

Please, Tom, don't put words in my mouth. I knew you'd accuse me of using that term, even though I very consciously didn't and won't. I don't believe for a single second that you, Jay, or the Dalai Lama are homophobes in the pejorative sense. I do not believe that anything you or Jay writes is out of hatred or vindictiveness towards homosexuals. Lack of understanding, certainly, fear of the unknown, most likely.

Such a projection, like accusing me of accusing others of homophobia, is a desperate attempt to dismiss my commentary as mere hyperbole.

I dismissed Evanston, much like I dismiss Jay's above post, for their complete willingess to project their limited personal experience as the truth of a matter without admitting the possibility of error. It is the expression of ignorance and stupidity I abhor, Tom. Fortunately ignorance, like homophobia, is a perfectly curable ailment. Stupidity, alas, appears terminal.

Tom Van Dyke said...

Yes, you did not use 'homophobe.' I apologize, James: sometimes you get lost in the torrent around here.

However, the Dalai Lama is still hurt, and wonders if perhaps you might be the one in error. As previously noted, the data cannot assure us that x is harmless, and there is other data that will not make it through the gatekeepers to your attention.

tbmbuzz said...

Hi, James Elliott, Master's of Social Welfare.

Now I'm confused. Didn't you write some time ago that you were educated by a physicist (who won the Nobel Prize I think) with whom you discuss missile defense? From what I recall, you demonstrated a complete willingess to project your limited personal experience on the topic as the truth of the matter without admitting the possibility of error.

Tlaloc said...

"Now I'm confused. Didn't you write some time ago that you were educated by a physicist"

You might be getting confused. I'm a physicist. However at the same time just because JE has a degree in a social science doesn't preclude him from having taken physics just as I took a lot of different classes in college.



"From what I recall, you demonstrated a complete willingess to project your limited personal experience on the topic as the truth of the matter without admitting the possibility of error."

Funny you should mention that because when I look back at this thread you know what I see? I see the posts where I thoughtfully provided links to all the information asked of me mysteriously erased.

Odd that. Almost as if someone was pissy about their point of view being categorically rejected by reality. I wonder who that could have been?

James Elliott said...

"Now I'm confused. Didn't you write some time ago that you were educated by a physicist (who won the Nobel Prize I think) with whom you discuss missile defense?"

My undergrad is in international relations and psychology from UC Davis. My favorite class (and one that I scored 110% in, natch - he liked my final essay so much he gave me extra points) was with Dr. Richard Freeman, the Edward Teller Chair of Physics, entitled "Nuclear Arms: Effects and Policy."

"From what I recall, you demonstrated a complete willingess to project your limited personal experience on the topic as the truth of the matter without admitting the possibility of error."

Actually, I was projecting Dr. Freeman's rather copious experience, and I'll take his word over that of an anonymous internet commenter. But perhaps that's just splitting hairs. I'm still a work in progress.

James Elliott said...

Oh, and Dr. Freeman was the protege of Nobel prize winners, not one himself. Only in my wildest dreams was my education that prestigious. No, I have to settle for famous international relations theorists and notorious Russian dissidents.

mjwatson said...

Go Ags!

(class of '95)

James Elliott said...

Class of '01, myself.

Evanston said...

JFE: "I dismissed Evanston, much like I dismiss Jay's above post, for their complete willingess to project their limited personal experience as the truth of a matter without admitting the possibility of error."
No, JFE, you accused and ignored.

Accusations: you accused me of being mistaken about an actual, repeated experience in my life. You did so without having any knowledge about this whatsoever. Then you accused me of mistaking this with "data." No, I was making my comment to refute a blanket generalization made by tlaloc. Specifically, tlaloc described the following scenario as a canard: Jay said "If a seducer of the same sex played his or her cards right in that moment, was there no vulnerability there? Be honest."
Tlaloc refuted Jay's personal experience by relating his own, contrary, experience. You did the same to me, when you mentioned your own history. Then you accuse Jay and I of having a "complete willingess to project their limited personal experience as the truth of a matter without admitting the possibility of error."
For the record, I did not assert that I knew with any certainty what the actual "rate" of predatory behavior may be, or any other scientific measure that may be called "data" -- just my personal experience that such seduction is attempted.

Ignored: you outright ignored my observations regarding advertising and education. Perhaps you believe that nature overrules nurture in matters of sexual preference, even amongst the young? Great, then say so and support it.
It would be fitting, as well, if you supported your assertions about foster parent studies by actually referencing a few. I ask this since you have a Master's in Social Welfare and confidently summarize the conclusions of these studies. I would hope that they are available, at least in synopsized form, online.

James Elliott said...

Well, Evanston, I'm sorry you felt accused, but I really think that's projection on your part. Mea culpa, nonetheless.

It's too bad that you came by so late. Tlaloc had a perfectly cogent and reasonable comment that linked to a lot of data, but it was, for whatever reason, lost to The Black Hole of Things Tom Finds Unworthy of Furthering the Conversation. A fickle and unpredictable creature, that Hole. But on to your request:

Here is an APA resolution on the subject. Now, if you're anything like Tom, you'll find the APA a suspect source, but, if you have access to an academic search engine or (perhaps) Lexis-Nexis, it references a large number of recent studies you can look up.

Here is a good meta-analysis by a professor at UVA. Here's another from a non-APA source.

From the Child Welfare League of America (the professional association of child welfare workers): "Gay parents were found to be more likely to equally share child care and household duties, and the children of gay partners reported closer relationships to the parent who was not their primary caregiver than did the children of heterosexual couples." (Found here.

On the possible genetic basis for homosexuality: Here's one from UCLA. It is important to note that no one argues for an exclusively genetic cause. I think your dividing the commentary into a false nature/nurture debate is a straw man, probably unintentionally so. Further, I think a lot of this unfortunate discussion could be avoided if people could take the simple logical step of separating homosexuality from physical acts of sex.

I'm actually with you on the censorship stuff. I don't think the school or the court was in the right.

Tom Van Dyke said...

Sorry, James, I simply do not consider the matter settled. The study of human sexuality is in its infancy, and I'm not ready to throw out thousands of years of convention and change society by legal fiat based on a few years' worth of studies. (And it was all I could do to not use scare quotes on "studies.") I trust the social sciences academy as much as some people trust conservative think tanks, and that's fair, I suppose.

You got your UVa "expert," I'll get mine:


Steven Nock, professor of sociology at the University of Virginia, also noted in a review of the studies that, among other errors, “all used inappropriate statistics….All had biased samples.” He added that the research is inconclusive, insufficient to justify any pronouncements, and “does not constitute a solid body of scientific evidence.”

Despite official pronouncements to the contrary, there does exist evidence that same-sex parenting is harmful to children. Much of this may be drawn, ironically, from the studies examined above that purport to prove the opposite.

The American Sociological Review published a survey by researchers Stacey and Biblarz in 2001 in which the authors reviewed 21 gay-adoption studies carried out between 1981 and 1998. They concluded that in many cases the conductors of those studies were guilty of bias, and of deliberately withholding information regarding factors that would indicate precisely the opposite of the results originally claimed.

Stacey and Biblarz are in favor of gay rights and even criticize key conservative figures. Despite personal feelings, then, they still exposed the bias inherent in many of these studies. Stacey said of the studies, which had found that the children raised in gay homes did not differ from those raised in normal homes, “That doesn’t appear to be true. It’s time to…look at it with eyes wide open.” She also noted that “we say there are some differences, and that people have shied away from acknowledging them for fear that this would inflame homophobia.”

James Elliott said...

Interesting. Out of curiousity, could you point to what those negative outcomes were? I frequently work with adopted children (and given that I work with developmentally delayed children, many of whom have gay/lesbian parents) and the general consensus in the adoption community is that these children have as good, if not better, outcomes.

But I'm always interested in contrary data.

James Elliott said...

Hmm. It appears Stacey and Biblarz were taken a tad out of context. This is from the CWLA document I linked to:

"In an April 2001 article in the American Sociological Review, researchers Judith Stacey and Timothy Biblarz of the University of Southern California reported the results of their examination of 21 studies on gay parenting. Stacey and Biblarz found that although 'the authors of all 21 studies almost uniformly claim to find no differences in measures of parenting or child outcomes,' their examination of the data suggests that the children of gay parents demonstrate some differences in gender behavior and preferences. Lesbian mothers reported their children, especially daughters, are less likely to conform to cultural gender norms in dress, play, and behavior, and are more likely to aspire to nontraditional gender occupations, such as doctors, lawyers, or engineers. They also discovered that although the children of gay and lesbian parents are no more likely to identify themselves as gay, lesbian, or bisexual than the children of heterosexual parents, they are more likely to consider or experiment with same-sex relationships during young adulthood.

"Stacey and Biblarz also found that the children of homosexual parents show no difference in levels of self-esteem, anxiety, depression, behavior problems, or social performance, but do show a higher level of affection, responsiveness, and concern for younger children and 'seem to exhibit impressive psychological strength.'"


So, while taking other researchers to task for misrepresenting their data, they essentially confirm the findings. The differences in gender behavior tend to be violations of traditional gender roles, such as girls wanting to be doctors or playing baseball. Essentially, they're positive differences.

Tom Van Dyke said...

As I said, James, I consider the matter far from settled. That includes in favor of the direction to which I lean.

I'm afraid you pick the weakest of counterarguments to respond to, and not the strongest. As that is debate and not discussion, you already know by now that I'm not interested in litigating. My core question of the (un-?)suitability of the social sciences to decide questions of values, whether the academy is asking the right questions, and that data is still a collection of anecdotes, are untouched, much like the drinks at a Bar Mitzvah (HT: Robert Klein).

Steven Nock remains unanswered, and one of your own links admits that the data on male homosexual parents is too sketchy for conclusions.

But there will be more data trickling in over the next generation (and studies need to be generational) as various US states experiment with various arrangements. We shall see. In the meantime, I think using the legal system to make wholesale and irrevocable changes in family structure is imprudent. Not reactionary, just a little old-fashioned Burkean conservatism.

Evanston said...

JFE, thank you for the references! I've copied them, it's good to keep current and you saved me some time.
Count me confused, though, on your statement that nature vs. nurture is a strawman. The main question of Jay's post was whether there is such a thing as a "gay teenager." If a person is genetically determined to be a homosexual, I believe Jay's question is answered as "Yes, people are either homosexual or heterosexual from the moment they are born. Therefore there is such a thing as a gay teenager." Nature rules.
Conversely, if homosexuality results primarily or in part from environmental factors, then the answer to Jay's question is "Some teenagers clearly desire persons of the same sex, while others are unsure about their sexual preference." Further, school policies may decrease or increase the number of teenagers with homosexual desires. Nurture matters.
Jay's narrative discussed teenage sexuality in the context of the Day of Silence, but obviously there are many other programs underway at public schools (including statewide initiatives in California and independent efforts in Mass).
Perhaps nature vs. nurture is a strawman if you have already decided that homosexuality is fine. It is a strawman because it distracts from the objective -- acceptance of homosexuality.
In that context, Jay's original question is stupid. Kids should be trained to be accepting towards homosexuality, the earlier the better.
Jay asserts that he cares about those teenagers who are unsure about their sexuality, to the point that his last paragraph starts "Truthfulness and compassion demand that we counsel those children, that we tell them they are still young, they are still confused..." etc. So if I may speak for Jay, he finds school programs such as the Day of Silence to be premature for a teenage audience.
My comments were clear. I believe that homosexuality, at any age, is destructive to individuals and society.
I do not seek to persuade. "Sexual freedom" debates are a part of a larger societal struggle regarding what constitutes right or wrong. In your profession you have to deal with right vs. wrong in a multifaceted and ever-changing context. I empathize, but also believe that new things are not always really new, and that what is sold as progressive is often regressive.
Finally, you state that it would be preferable if people "take the simple logical step of separating homosexuality from physical acts of sex."
I'm honestly not trying to be contrary, but I don't believe this "step" is "logical" in context.
You may recall that I recently retired from the Marines. I lived in a "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" environment that did not kick out people for homosexuality as a preference, but for homosexual acts. So I understand the difference between preference and activity on an actual (not just theoretical) level.
That said, I still think clubs dedicated to sexuality implicitly or explicitly promote the activity. I find it rather silly to expect otherwise. Now, I recognize that a club can "officially" be concerned with harassment and other "political" issues that are not about how to "DO IT." But I believe that teenagers think a lot about how to DO IT and greater acceptance brings greater activity. Again, this relates back to my general points about nurture (and education and advertising).
Thanks again for the references!
Sincerely, Ev

Tom Van Dyke said...

Thank you, Mr. Evanston, for identifying Mr. Homnick's central and most provocative point. I had meant to do it myself, but followed the the gay adoption digression, which is worthy in itself.

Somehow this discussion refound its feet, and we are in your debt.

If DNA is destiny, then living out our lives is just a formality, it seems to me. That habituation (to a sexuality or anything else, really) is part of the fabric of our days goes back to Aristotle. Surely there's something to the notion.

As previously noted, if there were no such thing as children, or in this case adolescents, we might not be having these concerns or this discussion at all.