Ideology Trumps Children’s Well-Being for Right-Wing"American College of Pediatricians”
April 8, 2010
The following post comes from HRC Family Project Director, Ellen Kahn:
Many of us were astonished to learn that the American College of Pediatricians — a so called “advocacy” group that has a name quite similar to the actually reputable American Academy of Pediatrics — recently sent a letter to every school superintendent in the U.S. making the case that LGBT children and youth can, and should change. Implicit in this message is that schools should not support or encourage these youth, and instead should direct them to change, to essentially ignore and deny any expressions of their LGBT identity. Their “Facts about Youth” website (also eerily similar to "Just the Facts," which is the real deal on supporting LGBT youth), is not only mean spirited and factually inaccurate, but worse, it HURTS young people and their families and friends who love them. We know that when adults — parents, teachers, guardians — are supportive and affirming of young LGBT people, it makes a world of difference. Alternately, LGBT youth who are rejected by the adults in their lives, particularly their parents, are more likely to drop out of school, engage in high risk behavior such as drug and alcohol use or unprotected sex, and experience depression.
It is not the fact that they are LGBT that leads to these outcomes; rather it is specifically whether or not the adults who care for them rise to the occasion, even when it’s hard, to accept them and support them. When LGBT youth come out to families who are supportive, who advocate for them, who express their unconditional love for them, they are fine. While this seems like a “no brainer,” we now have an evidence-based foundation for demonstrating, without a doubt, it is the adults who “make or break” the experience of LGBT youth. Dr. Caitlin Ryan has been leading the Family Acceptance Project, an in-depth study of the impact of family acceptance (or lack of) on LGBT youth. The actions of the American College of Pediatricians, which is comprised of a bunch of right wing extremists who have largely been discredited by legitimate researchers, are highly irresponsible and do direct harm to youth. They choose to espouse their anti-LGBT rhetoric and fear-based, lie-based ideology at the expense of the well being of thousands, if not more children and youth. We must move beyond this. In addition to the groundbreaking work of Dr. Caitlin Ryan, the majority of child welfare and children’s rights organizations believe that being LGBT is not a choice, nor is it an illness, nor is it a “problem,” and it is up to responsible adults to stop shaming and marginalizing these youth. Doing so is literally doing harm — this is what drives young LGBT people to run away, to hide, to lie, to take their own lives. Shame on the American College of Pediatricians — they need to be “outed” and held accountable. Every one of us who cares about the fate of the next LGBT generation should express their disgust and distaste, and make available the information and resources that truly support our youth and their families.