LGBTQ Progressive Groups Put Needed Spotlight On Religious Right Distortion Of Science

This project by HRC is the latest endeavor of progressive and LGBTQ organizations to expose conservative and religious right groups.
04/24/2017 06:35 pm ET Updated Apr 25, 2017

Late last week, the Human Rights Campaign announced a new project calling out the transphobic lies of infamous former Johns Hopkins professor Paul McHugh. McHugh has been a long-time opponent of the transgender community. His anti-transgender claims have been criticized for lack of veracity, but the religious right and their supporters still cite him.

According to HRC:

. . .the HRC Foundation launched McHugh Exposed, a website that pulls back the curtain on the anti-LGBTQ myths and junk science being peddled by Dr. Paul McHugh, the go-to ‘expert’ for anti-equality extremists. The resource includes a detailed timeline of how McHugh’s hateful and damaging essays have been used to target and attack LGBTQ people and a new video featuring renowned LGBTQ health expert, Dr. Tonia Poteat. It can be found at www.McHughExposed.org. McHugh’s false, non-scientific assertions have been used by anti-equality activists in state legislatures and courtrooms to defend discrimination against LGBTQ people. . . “Paul McHugh’s writings continue to dangerously undermine the safety, security and wellbeing of LGBTQ people, and particularly transgender youth, across the country,” said Mary Beth Maxwell, HRC Vice President for Research, Training, and Programs. “McHugh’s junk science is still being referenced in legislative and legal battles despite the fact that Paul McHugh has no academic expertise in either gender or sexual orientation, and actively avoids publishing any of his anti-LGBTQ pieces in peer-reviewed journals. Policy makers, informed citizens and parents deserve to know that this is junk science and personal opinion - not at all in the mainstream of current medical and academic research and not endorsed by Johns Hopkins regardless of how McHugh uses his title to suggest credibility or expertise.”

HRC also launched a wonderful video which throws “shade” at religious right groups and their phony “policy experts,” i.e. the spokespeople they employ to go on news programs and in front of state and federal legislative bodies to spread their homophobic talking points.

This project by HRC is the latest endeavor of progressive and LGBTQ organizations to expose conservative and religious right groups who push lies and junk science against the LGBTQ community behind the facade of “religious liberty.”

On April 13, the group Media Matters along with the National Center for Transgender Equality, The National LGBTQ Task Force, SoulForce, The Equality Federation, and The Matthew Shepard Foundation began the Eliminate Hate Campaign. According to its webpage

The Eliminate Hate Campaign is a broad-based nationwide coalition of organizations, faith leaders, and local community members who are united in our commitment to increase media accountability and public awareness of the growing influence and extremism of anti-LGBTQ hate groups; provide resources to empower grassroots actions to combat hate and extremism; and mitigating the harm caused by discrimination and bigotry. The Eliminate Hate Campaign was formed in response to Alliance Defending Freedom’s designation as a hate group by Southern Poverty Law Center, where they join a long list of other anti-LGBTQ organizations.

The Eliminate Hate Campaign’s webpage also includes resources and information which refute the anti-LGBTQ claims of the religious right, as well as the claim that these groups are motivated by personal religious beliefs.

And I personally think that it’s about time.  My blog, Holy Bullies and Headless Monsters, was created over 10 years ago for just that purpose - exposing religious right groups for their reliance of junk science, cherry-picked science, and out-and-out lies to denigrate the LGBTQ community while falsely claiming that their opposition is grounded in religious beliefs.

In truth, their opposition is grounded in the exploitation of religious beliefs and basic homophobia. I’m glad to see that there is more of an effort to call these folks out. Granted, they will probably distract and whine, falsely claiming that they are being “silenced.” On the contrary, the effort undertaken by LGBTQ and progressive groups merely expands the conversation. It’s high time that these so-called religious organizations defend the tactics they have used to denigrate us.

Those who have followed my blog over the years  know that I’ve compiled a list of the times legitimate physicians, Ph.D.s, and researchers have called out  religious right groups and personalities for distorting their work in order to denigrate the LGBTQ community.

Now is a perfect time to pull out the list:

- In 2012, Seton Hall professor Dr. Theodora Sirota complained that Rick Fitzgibbons of the NARTH (the National Association of Research and Therapy of Homosexuality) misused her work 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.”

 - In 2011, Tom Minnery, a spokesman from Focus on the Family, was dressed down by Sen. Al Franken (D-MN) during a Congressional hearing for deliberately misrepresenting a study. Minnery initially used the study to claim, as Fitzgibbons did in his misrepresentation, that same-sex households are inferior to two parent mother/father households.

- In 2010, John Horgan, a science journalist and Director of the Center for Science Writings at the Stevens Institute of Technology, also complained about how his work was being distorted.

- National Institute of Health director Francis Collins called out the right-wing 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), 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), complained that their work was being distorted by Focus on the Family.

- University College London professor Michael King complained that the American Family Association was distorting his work on depression and suicide in LGBT individuals

- University of Utah professor Lisa Diamond said that NARTH (the National Association of Research and Therapy of Homosexuality), a group which also share board members with the American College of Pediatricians, distorted her research on sexual orientation.

- Dr. Carol Gilligan, Professor of Education and Law at New York University 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, also complained that Focus on the Family distorted his work.

- Dr. Robert Spitzer, Professor of Psychiatry at Columbia University, 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, has had to, on more than one occasion, cry foul over how religious right groups distorted her work on LGBT families.

- Greg Remafedi, Professor at the University of Minnesota, complained several times about how religious right groups such as the American College of Pediatricians have distorted his work.

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