In a recent issue of the Minneapolis City Pages, University of Minnesota professor Greg Remafedi has gone on record complaining that the American College of Pediatricians, a sham group camouflaging religious right distortions as legitimate research, distorted his work. The article reads:
When the University of Minnesota Medical School professor followed the links he was being sent, he was dismayed. A group called the American College of Pediatricians had sent a letter to more than 14,000 superintendents across the country, claiming that the best thing schools can do for students who come out of the closet is nothing at all: no support, no affirmation, no gay-straight alliance clubs on campus.
The letter, and the Facts About Youth website it pointed school officials to, was dense with footnotes citing scientific studies. Remafedi's research was at the top of the list.
The ACP argues that schools shouldn't support gay teens because they're probably just confused. "Most adolescents who experience same-sex attraction ... no longer experience such attractions at age 25," the letter says, citing a 1992 study by Remafedi.
Except that's not what Remafedi's research suggested at all. His work showed that kids who are confused about their sexuality eventually sort it out -- meaning many of them accept being gay.
The article also says that Remafedi wrote a letter to the ACPED's president, Dr. Tom Benton, requesting that his research be removed.
Benton refused to do so.
While Remafedi has voiced disenchantment over this new development, he should take solace in the fact that he is not the only physician or researcher who has had his or her work distorted by religious right groups and affiliates.
The organization Truth Wins Out has complied a listing of researchers, professors, and physicians who have complained about the distortion of their work pertaining to the LGBT community by the religious right.
- University of Utah professor Lisa Diamond, who complained that NARTH (the National Association of Research and Therapy of Homosexuality), a group that also shares board members with the ACPED, distorted her research on sexual orientation.
- Dr. Carol Gilligan, Professor of Education and Law at New York University, who complained that former Focus on the Family head James Dobson misrepresented her research to attack LGBT families.
- Dr. Kyle Pruett, Ph.D., a professor of child psychiatry at the Yale School of Medicine, who has also complained that Focus on the Family distorted his work.
- Dr. Robert Spitzer, Professor of Psychiatry at Columbia University, who has consistently complained that religious right groups distorted his study to claim that the LGBT orientation is easily changeable.
- Judith Stacey, Professor of Sociology at New York University, who has had to, on more than one occasion, cry foul over how religious right groups distorted her work on LGBT families.
There are still other examples, including:
- National Institute of Health director Francis Collins, who rebuked the American College of Pediatricians for falsely claiming that he stated sexual orientation is not hardwired by DNA.
- Six researchers of a 1997 Canadian study (Robert S. Hogg, Stefan A. Strathdee, Kevin J.P. Craib, Michael V. Shaughnessy, Julio Montaner, and Martin T. Schehter), who complained in 2001 that religious right groups were distorting their work to claim that gay men have a short life span.
- The authors of the book Unequal Opportunity: Health Disparities Affecting Gay and Bisexual Men in the United States (Professors Richard J. Wolitski, Ron Stall, and Ronald O. Valdiserri), who complained that their work was being distorted by Focus on the Family.
- University College London professor Michael King, who complained that the American Family Association was distorting his work on depression and suicide in LGBT individuals.
Also, it is worth noting that just like in the case of Remafedi, many of these distortions have not been corrected. In fact, the distortion of Stacey's work, as well as that of the 1997 Canadian study, can still be found unchanged on several religious right web sites.
One has to wonder how many other examples are out there. However, one thing is clear: as long as this issue falls under the radar, there will be many more cases of religious right groups distorting legitimate studies and thumbing their noses at calls to correct these distortions.