October 3, 2006

Anti-Gay Groups: Trying To Change The Subject

Posted at 11:14 am (Pacific Time)

As I anticipated in my Saturday post, antigay activists and their supporters have been seizing on the Foley scandal as an opportunity to link being gay with being a pedophile.

According to an article in the San Francisco Chronicle, the Family Research Council’s Tony Perkins issued a statement yesterday in which he complained that neither Republicans nor Democrats “seems likely to address the real issue, which is the link between homosexuality and child sexual abuse … ignoring this reality got the Catholic Church into trouble over abusive priests, and now it is doing the same to the House GOP leadership.”

An editorial in Tuesday’s Wall Street Journal made a similar linkage, arguing that the Foley scandal should increase liberals’ support for the Boy Scouts’ ban on gay scoutmasters.

Just to repeat what I wrote on Saturday: The ranks of child abusers, pedophiles, and sexual predators include people of all sexual orientations (and, as explained on my website, many child molesters don’t even have a true adult sexual orientation). The same goes for people who engage in sexual harassment and inappropriate conduct in the workplace: They can be straight, gay, or bisexual.

But none of these groups are disproportionately likely to behave badly. A person’s sexual orientation isn’t related to his or her propensity for sexual abuse or engaging in other reprehensible acts.

Stereotypes routinely portray denigrated minority groups as a threat to the majority’s most vulnerable members. The myth that gay men are child molesters fits this mold. Predictably, it is being touted now by conservatives who’d like to shift the national discussion from questions about the congressional leadership to the more comfortable turf of gay-bashing.

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