Update on “The Politically Inconvenient Truth”

Jim Burroway

October 20th, 2006

Three weeks ago, I wrote about the Family Research Council’s Tony Perkins going on various media outlets to claim that gays are much more likely to molest children. I examined the “evidence” that he offered and found it to be quite lacking.

When I wrote that, I had tried to contact the FRC to get some clarification on exactly what source material Tony Perkins was using when he made his claims. My e-mail went unanswered for more than a week, and when I did get a reply, they just referred me to their online tract, Homosexuality and Child Sexual Abuse, which wasn’t much help.

A few days ago, someone passed on an E-mail he received from the FRC which clarifies one point, namely the following claim:

…the Journal of Sex & Marital Therapy found that boys molested by men are almost four times more likely to become homosexual or bisexual than boys who weren’t molested.

When I wrote my examination, I couldn’t find the relevant article in the Journal of Sex & Marital Therapy. My detective work led me to believe that claim actually came from a third-hand reference to a book written in 1979 by David Finkelhor. I now stand corrected.

According to the email I received, the claim actually comes from an article written by James R. Bramblett, Jr. and Carol Anderson Darling entitled “Sexual contacts: Experiences, thoughts, and fantasies of adult male survivors of child sexual abuse” (Journal of Sex & Marital Therapy, vol 23, no. 4, Winter 1997; pp 305-316).

And right there on page 313, we read the following:

In this study, 46% of the abused men, as opposed to 12% of the non-abused men, defined their sexual orientation as either bisexual or homosexual.

This study examined two groups of men, one group of 35 men who had been sexually abused and another non-abused group of 33 men to serve as controls.

That’s right. The Family Research Council is basing its evidence on thirty-five men who somehow are to represent all men who were sexually abused — that’s not very compelling evidence.

And notice the non-abused group. Twelve percent identified themselves as being gay. Now, if this group were representative of non-abused men, would the Family Research Council concede that gay men make up 12% of the male population? I doubt it.

Another interesting fact is that the composition of the abused group broke down this way: 54% straight, 32% bisexual, and 14% gay. In other words, the number of gay men in both groups is the same. What’s more, there were no bisexuals in the non-abused group. They were either gay or straight.

So why the large numbers of bisexuals in the abused group? The authors note that “according to existing literature, gender identity confusion and gender preferences are often cited as being affected by childhood sexual abuse.” The very small number of participants makes it extremely dangerous to try to draw broad conclusions. Not all bisexuals — and perhaps not even significant numbers of bisexuals — are bisexual due to past abuse, for example. And this is not to say that bisexuals generally are “confused”, but it certainly begs the question of whether abused men suffer a greater degree of uncertainty over their sexual orientation than non-abused men.

The most this study proves is that abused men are more likely to report being bisexual than being gay. That’s an important distinction given the difficulties involved with overcoming child sexual abuse. But the Family “Research” Council won’t recognize that very important distinction. Instead, they’ll do just about anything for a smear, including misrepresenting the lives of abused men to denigrate others.

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