In light of the anticipated wave of emotion and anger over the upcoming release of more than 20 years of child molestation records from the Boy Scouts of America (BSA), we need to make one thing clear: The vast majority of child molesters are not gay men.
On Sunday The Los Angeles Times reported that the BSA failed to report allegations of sex abuse of scouts in hundreds of cases between 1970 and 1991. Additionally, there were some cases where the organization helped the accused "cover their tracks."
This all comes on top of heightened scrutiny in past months when the BSA has come out in strong defense of its own policies discriminating against openly gay scouts and leaders. It's hard not to notice the similarities between the BSA and the Catholic Church when it comes to their discriminatory policies against gay people and their long history of child sex abuse.
For generations, people have made an inappropriate and ignorant connection between homosexuality and pedophilia, and the record must be set straight (so to speak). I've heard it as recently as a few months ago, when an acquaintance actually said to me, "I think gay men should really only be allowed to raise girls." He was implying that if there was a young boy in the house, gay parents might be tempted. He thought he was liberal in his thinking, because hey, at least he's OK with gay men raising a girl. He was ignoring the fact that what he'd said was far more insulting than discriminating against LGBT parenting altogether.
With last year's Penn State tragedies and seemingly daily stories about child sex abuse within the Catholic Church, pedophilia is in the news and in the thoughts of many Americans.
Anti-gay hate groups such as the Family Research Council (FRC) are constantly on the attack, perpetuating the false link between homosexuality and pedophilia. FRC's Peter Sprigg said in their brochure "Debating Homosexuality: Understanding Two Views," "We believe the evidence shows ... that relative to the size of their population, homosexual men are more likely to engage in child sexual abuse than are heterosexual men." And on the organization's website, FRC president Tony Perkins claimed (again with no evidence whatsoever), "While activists like to claim that pedophilia is a completely distinct orientation from homosexuality, evidence shows a disproportionate overlap between the two. ... It is a homosexual problem."
Dr. Carole Jenny of Denver Children's Hospital put together an exhaustive study on this very topic. She took 352 children who were referred to a clinic for potential sexual abuse. Thirty-five of these children were ruled out of the study, as abuse seemed unlikely in these cases. Of the remaining 317 cases, 74 children were abused by other children or teens under the age of 18, nine children could not identify their abuser, two children were abused by someone identified as gay or lesbian, and 232 children were sexually abused by the heterosexual partner of a close relative.
And if you'd like to discuss gay men in particular, the same doctor looked at 50 boys who had been molested. Of those 50 boys, 37 were abused by a man in a straight relationship with a relative, three were molested by their mother or grandmother, five were molested by both parents, three were molested by a male family friend who had no history of sex with men, one was molested by an uncle, also with no history of sex with men, and one was molested by a man who was possibly, but not definitely, a gay man.
This study would indicate that the vast majority of men who abuse boys are either not attracted to adults of either gender or are straight men who are emotionally disturbed, frequently only involved in abuse because of the power they may have over a young boy. Additionally, the reason so many boys are molested by men is that men have greater access to boys than they do to girls.
Several studies have concluded that only a fraction of pedophiles have ever shown an attraction to other adult men -- a fraction that is far below the ratio of openly gay men in society.
Rob Tisinai has put together an excellent video (see below) outlining much of this data and raises perhaps the most important point about those people who choose to blame gays for these horrific cases: "When our opponents demonize openly gay men and falsely shine the spotlight on us, they're letting the real abusers hide in the darkness ... and continue their abuse."
With every one of these statements from hate groups like the FRC, they are extending the myth that openly gay men are the ones to watch when it comes to the sexual abuse of children. And for every minute they spend penning the articles they do, a real predator is getting away with these horrific acts. When they do this, they make the decision to prioritize their own anti-gay agendas over the lives and well-being of children.
It is up to us to spread the truth and combat the lies and fear with scientifically proven facts. This is not about defending our honor; this is about really protecting our children.
Follow Jamie McGonnigal on Twitter: www.twitter.com/mcbenefit