A researcher has come out complaining that a religious-right "expert" distorted her work to stigmatize the LGBTQ community.
According to Box Turtle Bulletin, Rick Fitzgibbons of the National Association of Research and Therapy of Homosexuality (NARTH) wrote a piece about same-sex adoption. In the piece Fitzgibbons cites the work of Seton Hall professor Theodora Sirota to make the case that children in same-sex households are not raised better than children "in stable homes with a mother and a father."
To support his denunciation of same-sex adoption, Fitzgibbons offers this summary of Sirota's research:
Researchers interviewed 68 women with gay or bisexual fathers and 68 women with heterosexual fathers. The women (average age 29 in both groups) with gay or bisexual fathers had difficulty with adult attachment issues in three areas: they were less comfortable with closeness and intimacy; they were less able to trust and depend on others; and they experienced more anxiety in relationships compared to the women raised by heterosexual fathers.
The problem is not with what Fitzgibbons said; it's what he left out: The gay and bisexual fathers in Sirota's study were married to the mothers.
Dr. Sirota's article is about the impact of a homosexual father raising a girl in a heterosexual marriage. It has nothing to do with same-sex couples, nothing to do with same-sex adoption at all.
Or as Dr. Sirota says in her letter, "[N]o conclusions about gay or lesbian fitness to adopt children or quality of active gay parenting can be drawn from the findings of my research. No conclusions about the well-being of children who are or were actively raised by gay or lesbian parents can be drawn from the findings of my research."
While religious-right circles look upon NARTH as experts on the LGBT community, the mainstream scientific community pretty much ignores the group's research, and with good reason. Truth Wins Out calls NARTH "a discredited 'ex-gay' fringe organization that peddles fraudulent 'cures' for homosexuality." According to Truth Wins Out:
NARTH' co-founder, Joesph Nicolosi encourages male clients to become more masculine by drinking Gatorade and referring to friends as "dude". NARTH therapists have been known to practice rubber band therapy, where a gay client is made to wear a rubber band and snap it on his wrist when sexually stimulated. It is a mild form of aversion therapy meant to "snap" the client out of the moment of attraction. NARTH members have also been known to practice "touch therapy", where a client sits in the therapist' lap for up to an hour, while the therapist caresses him.
In 2010 another member of NARTH, George Rekers, resigned from the organization after being caught returning from a vacation overseas with a "rentboy."
Unfortunately, NARTH isn't the only religious-right organization to distort legitimate scientific work. Other groups have gotten into trouble over this sadly overlooked aspect of the so-called culture wars. Over the years, there have been 11 other complaints from researchers that their work was being distorted by religious-right and so-called "pro-family" groups, including:
- National Institute of Health director Francis Collins, who rebuked the right-wing American College of Pediatricians for falsely claiming that he stated that sexual orientation is not hardwired by DNA.
Last year Tom Minnery, a spokesman for Focus on the Family, was dressed down by Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) during a congressional hearing for deliberately misrepresenting a study. Minnery initially used the study to claim, as Fitzgibbons did in his misrepresentation of Theodora Sirota's work, that same-sex households are inferior to two-parent mother/father households.