Family groups and Catholic observers warn that a new booklet recently sent out to educators promotes an unhealthy view of homosexuality.
The 12-page booklet, called "Just the Facts About Sexual Orientation and Youth," lambastes attempts to encourage homosexuals to embrace a chaste lifestyle. It was sent out to the heads of all 14,700 public school districts by a coalition of teachers, school administrators, psychologists and homosexual activists called the "Just the Facts Coalition".
"Because of the religious nature of 'transformational ministry,'" the booklet said, "endorsement or promotion of such ministry by officials or employees of a public school district in a school-related context could raise constitutional problems."
The booklet drew quick criticism.
Princeton natural law philosopher Robert George, a longtime observer of education, said "the guise of science" hides the true message of the booklet.
The booklet's real "agenda," he said, " is the consolidation and further promulgation of the sexual revolution. To succeed, it is necessary that children not be taught their parents values."
He added, "Parents have a constitutional right to direct the upbringing of their children"
Against claims that the religious nature of programs to dissuade homosexual behavior raises "constitutional problems" George pointed out:
"If they were truly concerned about providing the facts, they would point out that the overwhelming majority of Christian denominations and the Jewish faith firmly condemn homosexual conduct and reject the idea that valid relationships can be integrated around acts of sodomy."
The coalition that published the booklet comprises the National Education Association, the American Psychological Association, the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Association of School Administrators, and seven other groups.
Dr. Joseph Thomas Nicolosi, who runs the Thomas Aquinas Psychological Clinic in Encino, Calif., took the booklet to task when it claimed that "the idea that homosexuality is a mental disorder or that the emergence of same-gender sexual desires among some adolescents is in any way abnormal or mentally unhealthy has no support among health and mental health professional organizations. This idea is "dangerously" wrong, Nicolosi told the Register. Empirical evidence, he insisted, shows that homosexuality is the result of a traumatic childhood development.
"For all this media hype for finding the 'gay gene,' there is much more evidence for the classic triadic family pattern" as the underlining cause of homosexual tendencies, said Nicolosi, who treats more than 30 homosexuals a week.
The triadic family environment, he said, "involves an emotionally distant, emotionally detached father and an overly involved, intrusive, dominating mother which results in a temperamentally introverted, artistic, timid boy."
Instead of teaching children that they should affirm homosexuality as healthy, he added, children's advocates should treat students who suffer from these tendencies in order to prevent a dangerous lifestyle.
The booklet drew, strong support from the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network, a New York homosexual activist group.
In a statement, its executive director, Kevin Jennings, said, "Our nation's educators have been struggling for too long with too little information about sexual orientation development and youth and this has taken a heavy toll on the health and well being of lesbian, gay and bisexual students. Educating the educators is a necessary and much-welcomed step in the right direction.
Nicolosi acknowledged that homosexual students deal with grief and scorn from their peers, but he insisted that the fundamental problem associated with homosexuality will not be eliminated with a placid environment.
"Homosexuality is at odds with a person's identity," the psychologist said. "Homosexuality often involves promiscuity, narcissism, loneliness and depression."
Princeton's Robert George noted the health risks too. "If it's 'Just the Facts,'" he said of the booklet, " why are we not told about how people who enter the gay lifestyle, or others who are sexually promiscuous, expose themselves to disease and disillusionment?"
The Catholic Church's stance on homosexual behavior is frequently misunderstood, according to Chris Wolfe, political science chair at Marquette University, who organized a conference on homosexuality last year at Georgetown University.
"Homosexual acts are wrong," Wolfe said. "The orientation towards the behavior is a disorder. The acts are a matter of choice that's where it's immoral. The orientation is not a sin, but it is an intrinsic disorder.
"There are sound reasons for understanding homosexuality as a disorder. What is the end of sex? Marriage, family and children. By definition, it's against marriage family and children."
The Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches about the evil of homosexual acts but urges compassion toward homosexuals: "[Homosexuality's] psychological genesis remains largely unexplained. Basing itself on Sacred Scripture, which presents homosexual acts as acts of grave depravity, tradition has declared that homosexual are intrinsically disordered....
"The number of men and women who have deep-seated homosexual tendencies is not negligible. They do not choose their homosexual condition; for most of them it is a trial. They must be accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity. Every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided. These persons are called to fulfill God's will in their lives and, if they are Christians, to unite to the sacrifice of the Lord's Cross the difficulties they may encounter from their condition.
"Homosexual persons are called to chastity. By the virtues of self-mastery that teach them inner freedom, at times by the support of disinterested friendship, by prayer and sacramental grace, they can and should gradually and resolutely approach Christian perfection" (No. 2357-59).
Josh Mercer. "Homosexual-Tolerance Book Misses the Point, Critics Say." National Catholic Register. (Dec 5-11, 2000).
Reprinted by permission of the National Catholic Register.
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Josh Mercer writes for the National Catholic Register.
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