Why do some people write articles?

David Virtue posted what might be perhaps one of the worst articles I have ever read on why some people are gay.

Titled, Why are some people gay?, the article by Mike McManus begins by telling some of the sad story of someone I happen to like, Michael Reagan.

I just read Michael Reagan’s book, “Twice Adopted,” which reports the terrifying evidence of why many become homosexual. The adopted son of Ronald Reagan and Academy Award winner Jane Wyman – lived through their divorce and found himself in a boarding school at age five, crying himself to sleep.

Michael wondered why some kids in his school went home every night, while he did not. “What’s wrong with me?” he wondered. “Why don’t my parents like me.”

His mother was making two or three movies a year, like his dad, who was also President of the Screen Actors Guild. They had little time for him, though each saw him every other weekend.

In his book, Reagan told of his tragic abuse perpetrated by Don Havlik, the camp director. And just when you think McManus is going to tell you that Michael Reagan is gay, he writes:

What was most horrifying about his secret is that he was afraid he would be labeled. Though he had never heard the word “homosexual,” at age 7, he knew he had been touched by a man, which did not sound normal. Fortunately, Reagan did become heterosexual and married happily.

Talk about adventures in not making your point…

Then he quotes Arthur Goldberg’s new book, Light in the Closet linking sexual abuse and homosexuality.

Many studies estimate that 40 percent to two-thirds of homosexuals – are victims of child molesters, according to Dr. Arthur Goldberg, President of PATH (Positive Alternatives to Homosexuality.) He adds that even higher percentages of lesbians were victims of child molestation.

I have never seen these stunning figures in the secular press before.

There is a reason why you haven’t seen these stunning figures in the secular press. They are misleading numbers. The higher numbers come from non-representative and skewed samples, if they come from studies at all. The real numbers for gays are intolerably high but so the percentages for heterosexuals, especially women. See this post and this one for some sanity on the topic of sexual abuse and homosexuality.

The for good (bad) measure, the article ends with a reference to gay marriage, improperly conflating homosexuality with pedophilia.

This issue goes far beyond same-sex marriage. Every step which normalizes homosexuality will attract more people into this perverted lifestyle, endangering children.

About the only redeeming value in this article comes via the warning signs provided by Michael Reagan to parents regarding how to protect children from actual pedophiles. Otherwise, this is a confusing (why is straight man Michael Reagan’s story described in an article trying to advance the notion that homosexuality derives from molestation?), and harmful article. If being untruthful is harmful in itself, then we have that kind of harm to start with. However, there is another kind of pain that can be caused with this kind of article. I have direct experience with families where children and grandchildren have been kept away from same-sex attracted (not even gay identified) relatives because of the fears whipped up by this contrived link between same-sex attraction and child molestation.

NARTH fact sheet: Female homosexual development, Part 2 – Child sexual abuse

In the first part of my review of the NARTH fact sheet on female homosexuality, I critiqued the empirical foundation of the NARTH theories about causation of female same-sex attraction.
In this post, I examine the statements regarding sexual abuse and causation. It may be surprising to some observers to read this:

Although sexual abuse does not directly cause same sex attraction, studies report male sexual abuse of lesbians as generally being twice as high as of heterosexual women, that is, on average, 50 percent of lesbian women report a history of sexual abuse. (26, 27) If family relational dynamics and gender nonconformity are already in place, sexual abuse can clench the direction of detachment, gender insecurity, and disidentification possibly leading to same sex attraction.

The article does not specify sexual abuse as a direct cause of same-sex attraction. However, the author does believe that being abused as a child can push a girl in that direction if she suffered detachment from her mom and was gender nonconforming as a child.
I checked the references offered by NARTH for the assertion that sexual abuse of lesbians by men are “twice as high as of heterosexual women” and that “50 percent of lesbian women report a history of sexual abuse.” I cannot find these statistics.
Reference 26 is to a survey of lesbians, gay men, and bisexuals and their siblings by Balsam, Rothblum, and Beauchaine in 2005 (see reference list at the end of the post). In this study, the authors used a convenience sample of same-sex attracted people and asked them to recruit a sibling to participate. They reported childhood sexual abuse (CSA) prevalences for straight (30.4%), lesbian (43.6%) and bisexual (47.6%) female participants. The effect size of these differences are very low, between 1-2%.
Reference 27 is to research reported in the Journal of Gay and Lesbian Social Services by Hughes and team in 2000. In this study, forty-one percent of lesbians reported CSA while among straight women the number was 24%.
The NARTH article adds:

Sexual abuse can be emotional, verbal, or physical. A girl who is sexually objectified though inappropriate sexual comments, denied age appropriate privacy or whose father has voyeuristic tendencies, has been sexually violated without ever being touched. (28, 29)

I do not contest that the paternal behaviors referenced here are inappropriate and potentially harmful. However, the references for these statements does not provide research support for the statements about CSA. One, (29) is not to a research study but to a book for a lay audience by Janette Howard and the other (28) is a 1991 research study by Peters and Cantrell which failed to discriminate lesbians and straight women via abuse variables.
There are some discouraging percentages in this literature but they apply to women overall, with a moderate elevation for lesbians. Here is what I found in a brief PsychLit search.
Table CSA
A look at the table demonstrates that most research finds a modest elevation for lesbians but does not demonstrate the 50% figure nor support for the conclusion that prevalences are twice as high for lesbians as straight women. Prevalences are sadly and unacceptably high for all women.
I fear that this fact sheet will become basis for inaccurate information spread by sexual identity and ex-gay ministries. Whatever the reason for the differences, it cannot be helpful to paint a false picture. Sexual abuse is a trauma that often requires therapeutic and spiritual intervention but whether it is involved in the origins of same-sex attractions continues to be an open question.
References:
Balsam, K.F.; Rothblum, E.D., & Beauchaine, T.P. (2005). Victimization over the life span: A comparison of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and heterosexual siblings. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology. 73, 477-487.
Bradford, J., Ryan, C., & Rothblum, E.D. (1994). National lesbian health care survey: Implications for mental health care. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 62, 228-242.
Briere, J., & Elliott, D. M. (2003). Prevalence and psychological sequelae of self-reported childhood physical and sexual abuse in a general population sample of men and women. Child Abuse & Neglect. 27, 1205-1222.
Finkelhor, D., Hotaling, G., Lewis, I.A., & Smith, C. (1990). Sexual abuse in a national survey of adult men and women: Prevalence, characteristics, and risk factors. Child Abuse & Neglect. 14, 19-28.
Hughes, T.L., Haas, A.P., Razzano, L., Cassidy, R., & Matthews. A. (2000). Comparing lesbians and heterosexual women鈥檚 mental health: Results from a multi-site women鈥檚 health survey. Journal of Gay and Lesbian Social Services, 11 (1), 57-76
Peters, D. & Cantrell, P. (1991). Factors distinguishing samples of lesbian and heterosexual women. Journal of Homosexuality, 21, 1-15.
Vogeltanz, N.D., Wilsnack, S.C., Harris, T. R., Wilsnack, R.W., Wonderlich, S.A., & Kristjanson, A.F. (1999). Prevalence and risk factors for childhood sexual abuse in women: National survey findings. Child Abuse & Neglect. 23, 579-592.