The Family Research Council’s Tony Perkins received a lot of criticism for a piece he wrote last week on National Coming Out Day.
In the piece, Perkins complained that “homosexual activists” were “exploiting” the recent suicides of lgbt teens. He tried to make the case that homophobia didn’t lead to these suicides but that homosexuality itself was a “dangerous lifestyle:”
There is an abundance of evidence that homosexuals experience higher rates of mental health problems in general, including depression. However, there is no empirical evidence to link this with society’s general disapproval of homosexual conduct. In fact, evidence from the Netherlands would seem to suggest the opposite, because even in that most “gay-friendly” country on earth, research has shown homosexuals to have much higher mental health problems.
In several places, including the comments section below his piece, Perkins got skewered. A main point of those criticizing Perkins was the fact that he distorted several studies to make the case that homosexuality was a “dangerous lifestyle.”
Media Matters for America called him out:
Perkins suggests that these tragedies are not caused by the homophobic attacks these individuals were subjected to, but rather because “homosexuals experience higher rates of mental health problems in general, including depression,” and, according to Perkins, there’s no “evidence to link this with society’s general disapproval of homosexual conduct.” Unfortunately for Perkins, the article he links to says no such thing.
Perkins links to a February 2002 American Psychologist article, which reported on the “results of several breakthrough studies are offering new insights on gay men, lesbians and bisexuals.” While Perkins is right, “Several studies suggest that gay men, lesbians and bisexuals appear to have higher rates of some mental disorders compared with heterosexuals,” he’s totally wrong that these rates have nothing to do with discrimination. In fact, the article immediately goes on to report that “[d]iscrimination may help fuel these higher rates.” The article reported: “In a study that examines possible root causes of mental disorders in LGB people, [Susan] Cochran [PhD] and psychologist Vickie M. Mays, PhD, of the University of California, Los Angeles, explored whether ongoing discrimination fuels anxiety, depression and other stress-related mental health problems among LGB people. The authors found strong evidence of a relationship between the two.” Several other studies back up this finding.
Jim Burroway of Box Turtle Bulletin pointed out this error in Perkins’s piece regarding his “evidence” from the Netherlands:
While the study’s authors notes that the Netherlands is generally more tolerant, it doesn’t mean that LGBT people there are free from anti-gay bias and stress. After all, “more tolerant” is not the same as tolerant. And as for the study’s findings, the authors offered this explanation:
The effects of social factors on the mental health status of homosexual men and women have been well documented in studies, which found a relationship between experiences of stigma, prejudice, and discrimination and mental health status. Furthermore, controlling for psychological predictors of present distress seems to eliminate differences in mental health status between heterosexual and homosexual adolescents.
And John Aravosis on Americablog pointed out how Perkins and his group, the Family Research Council, promotes the work of the discredited Paul Cameron.
On Tuesday, Perkins answered back at his critics and did he clear up the points made about the errors in his piece?
Of course not.
He directed all of his attention to attacking GLAAD (the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation) for their complaints about his piece:
In the last two weeks, FRC has had a front row seat to the effort by homosexual activists to intimidate the media into silencing conservatives. When the Washington Post published my op-ed last week about the need for an open discussion about the negative consequences of homosexuality (so that these people might have the freedom to leave the lifestyle), the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) threw a (predictable) fit. They accused the Post of giving me a platform for “anti-gay bullying” and urged readers to flood the paper with complaints. Now there are plenty of problems with this scenario-not the least of which is GLAAD’s definition of bullying. Despite how threatened they are by the truth, there is nothing more compassionate than trying to rescue people from a lifestyle that is physically and emotionally destructive. GLAAD doesn’t see it that way. Just as they did with Matthew Shepard, they’re exploiting Tyler Clementi’s tragic death as a weapon to scare Christians into retreating–or, in this case, as a way to pressure the media to muzzle any opposition.
The link to GLAAD’s supposed “hissy fit” contains links to Burroway’s criticisms, Aravosis’s observation, and links to a few more problems with FRC’s standpoint.
But Perkins chose not to address these. Instead, he chose to claim that he and his organization are victims of homosexual activists trying to silence Christians.
I didn’t know pointing out someone’s errors is the same as silencing them. Maybe it is in the case of Perkins and FRC.
If they couldn’t lie about the lgbt community, maybe they wouldn’t have anything else to say.