Friday, April 20, 2012

Lowlights & Highlights: April 21, 2012

When will this end? Yet another teenager (Kenneth Weishuhn Jr.) committed suicide after anti-gay bullying. Every time these stories come to my attention, it's like the world stops for a split-second and all I can think is "No, please, not again." This actually happened this past weekend, but I've felt it to varying degrees over the course of this week like a shadow following me. And to think that there are people out there who believe this kind of thing isn't a problem. There are others who think that these kids deserve what they are getting.

This won't end until until schools are empowered to deal with bullying of ALL kinds, and parents are engaged with their kids in terms of making sure they aren't being bullied (or for that matter, aren't the ones perpetrating the bullying). Most importantly, it won't end until the culture of this country has drastically changed. There are still massive forces fighting to allow the discrimination that makes LGBT kids aware that people (lots of people) think that they are less than human, undeserving of quality protections under the law and, more to the point, societal acceptance as they are. The assaults made these forces have a high cost and, unfortunately, that cost just got higher.

My heart goes out to the friends and family of Kenneth Weishuhn Jr. Another life snuffed out before its time.


I have mentioned this a time or two on the blog, including video of Rachel Maddow talking about this. She describes it at length but I'll just give you the bullet-points here. In 2001, Dr. Robert Spitzer (is is not a Right-wing nutjob, theocrat, or ardent homophobe) published "research" that essentially said one can be cured of homosexuality. Of course, the social conservatives and the ex-gay movement latched onto this and ever since, they have cited this as evidence that homosexuality is a choice, that one can "pray the gay away" and so forth. It was probably the happiest day in many of their lives. This week was probably equally devastating to them. Spitzer has retracted that "research" and condemned the way in which it has been used. Why? The methodology was all wrong. The "research" was primarily anecdotal and his primary source of these anecdotes were from people referred to him by ex-gay organizations. There is obviously an inherent bias in whatever findings come from that. Not only this, but the sample size (aside from not being random) was very small, thus doubly unreliable. The scientific method was not followed in this "research" and as such, the findings mean nothing of substance. Spitzer went so far as to say that he wished the study had never been published. He isn't the only one, I'm sure.

The walls are crumbling in around the ex-gay movement. There is pretty much no empirical evidence to back them up, yet plenty of empirical evidence working against them. This is a dangerous movement that does far more psychological harm than help. This is a huge blow to them and other social conservatives since this is a man that is respected in the scientific community and the work had been published in a peer-reviewed publication (and not some fringe magazine). It's great that Dr. Spitzer had the to admit he had been wrong (would that more people had that courage. This will certainly help the already turning tide on LGBT equality turn a little bit faster.

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