No proof that the rise of teen suicide is due to sexual identity conflict.
The rate of suicide has nearly tripled among young people since 1965. Efforts to discover the root causes of this epidemic of self-inflicted violence must be dispassionate and free of politics. However, homosexual activists have manipulated this national tragedy to promote their political agenda.
Voicing concern over suicide risk for "gay youth," homosexual activists are pushing pro-homosexual programs in the schools, which will invariably ensnare vulnerable teens who might otherwise have avoided the destructive homosexual lifestyle. Their diagnosis: gay youths need affirmation of their homosexuality in a "homophobic" world, or they may become suicidal. The proffered solution: affirmation programs that make gay youths comfortable with being homosexual and the rest of the student population comfortable with the concept of homosexuality. Once everyone accepts homosexuality as "normal" and "natural," gay youth will achieve high self-esteem and avoid suicidal behavior.
But this view is based on the aims and values of the gay activist movement, not on any solid scientific assessment. For starters, it ignores the possibility that homosexuality is a condition-apart from societal acceptance or nonacceptance-that often leads to unhealthy behavior, which leads to unhappiness.
The genesis of the homosexual teen suicide myth lies in a deeply flawed and pro-homosexual report by San Francisco homosexual activist Paul Gibson. The paper, "Gay Male and Lesbian Youth Suicide," was included, as a supporting document, in a 1989 report by a special federal task force on youth suicide reporting to Dr. Louis Sullivan, former Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS). However, Secretary Sullivan repudiated and distanced his department from the Gibson paper:
...the views expressed in the paper entitled 'Gay Male and Lesbian Youth Suicide' do not in any way represent my personal beliefs or the policy of this Department.
Sullivan went on to say:
Indeed, I am strongly committed to advancing traditional family values. Federal policies must be crafted with great care so as to strengthen rather than undermine the institution of the family. In my opinion, the views expressed in the paper run contrary to that aim.
Dr. David Shaffer, one of the country's leading authorities on suicide among youth, notes that Gibson's paper "was never subjected to the rigorous peer review that is required for publication in a scientific journal and contained no new research findings."
The following are some of Gibson's most tendentious and oft-repeated claims:
Although Gibson's report was denounced by Secretary Sullivan, homosexual activists have skillfully used it to claim that "government statistics" support their suicide assertions. Pro-gay articles routinely (and mistakenly) cite Gibson's unproven statistics as part of the HHS task force's official conclusions on youth suicide. Gibson himself has declined an interview with the author to discuss his controversial assertions.
In Massachusetts, a recently established Commission on Gay and Lesbian Youth set up by Republican Gov. William Weld relied almost exclusively on Gibson's unpublished HHS paper to warn ominously of a gay teen suicide epidemic. Gibson's exaggerated claims became the central rationale for creating a sweeping pro-gay counseling program in the state's schools. In an interview in The Advocate, a national gay magazine, Governor Weld, curiously, uses a Gibson-derived statistic to justify the program while at the same time seemingly acknowledging that this program may have credibility problems: "They say the harassment is one of the reasons gays and lesbians account for 30% of teenage suicides. That doesn't even need to be true for me to say that fighting anti-gay discrimination in the schools is absolutely necessary."
Lobbying by public school students was the key to passage of a student "gay rights" bill in Massachusetts, and, again, Gibson's "30 percent" statistic was a factor. According to The New York Times, a student stood outside the State House for several weeks leading up to the December 6, 1993 Senate passage of the bill holding a sign that said "Gays Make Up 30 Percent of Completed Teen Suicides." David LaFontaine, a gay activist who is now the director of Weld's youth commission, went so far as to say, "Gay youth suicide is like a hidden holocaust in America."
Notwithstanding such wild exaggerations, there is no consensus among experts that anything resembling an "epidemic" of gay teen suicides even exists. Moreover, many observers are aghast that, in this age of AIDS, the danger of suicide would be used to confirm confused youths in an unhealthy, destructive lifestyle that is fraught with anxiety and disease and that often leads to early death.
Due in large part to the effective use of the suicide scare, Massachusetts teenagers in public schools are now facing an array of pro-gay counseling programs similar to Project 10-the Los Angeles school program set up by a lesbian teacher with the goal of "validating the feelings" of "lesbian and gay youth." Project 10's blatant pro-gay bias is exemplified by its name, which is based on the now-repudiated myth that homosexuals make up 10 percent of the population.
Gibson's Skewed Research
The myth of a gay teen suicide epidemic is built upon a flimsy statistical foundation. Gibson, a homosexual social worker in San Francisco, uses statistics from mainly homosexual sources and then extrapolates them to the general youth population using the discredited Kinsey estimate of a 10 percent gay population.
A perusal of Gibson's report turns up numerous contradictions and statistical impossibilities. For example, he refers to one author who speculated in 1985 (in the gay newspaper, The Washington Blade) that as many as 3,000 gay youths kill themselves a year-a number that exceeds the total number of annual teen suicides by more than a thousand.
To reach his core conclusions on the high rate of homosexual suicides, Gibson points to assorted gay survey studies that claim homosexual youth are far more likely than their heterosexual counterparts to have considered or to have attempted suicide. These studies rely on surveys of troubled and often runaway youth. Generally, they have found a much higher rate (two to four times higher) of suicidal tendencies in their "gay" respondents compared with their "straight" respondents. Gibson then multiplies this higher rate by the disputed Kinsey figure of a 10 percent homosexual population to produce his figure that 30 percent of all youth suicides involve homosexual youth.
David Shaffer, a Columbia University psychiatrist and specialist on adolescent suicide, has said, "I struggled for a long time over [Gibson's] mathematics, but, in the end, it seemed more hocus-pocus than math." Nevertheless, Gibson's claims have been repeated over and over as homosexual activists have made them part of their lore.
In his paper, Gibson writes that "there are far more gay youth than you are aware of." He notes that "Kinsey found a significant amount of homosexual behavior among adolescents surveyed with 28 percent of the males and 17 percent of females reporting at least one homosexual experience." Finally, he posits that "a substantial minority of youth- perhaps one in ten as one book suggests-have a primary gay male, lesbian, or bisexual orientation." But since Gibson wrote his paper, there has been widespread repudiation of the Kinsey-based "10 percent" myth. One recent survey of nearly 35,000 Minnesota adolescents found only half of one percent described themselves as predominantly homosexual. And studies from many countries are finding that homosexuals comprise less than 2% of any population and, often, less than 1%.
In addition to his reliance on the false Kinsey estimate of the homosexual population, Gibson's study is fraught with difficulties that should disqualify its findings, among them:
Problem #1: Small Percentage of Suicides Found Gay
Perhaps the most damaging blow to the gay teen suicide myth comes from the studies of completed suicides, in which nothing close to Gibson's 30 percent figure has been found. Keeping in mind the difficulties of assessing whether or not a deceased person was homosexual, Shaffer cites three major studies analyzing factors behind a consecutive number of youth suicides:
By broadening the definition, we therefore ran the risk of over-determining the number of gay suicides. In spite of this, out of 107 male teen suicides, only three were known to have talked to others about a homosexual experience (2.7%) and 2 of these 3 died together in a suicide pact. A further four showed some behavior that could have been indicative of homosexuality. None of the female suicides were thought to have been lesbian. If all of the teenagers who showed any evidence of homosexual behavior were indeed gay, then a total of 6% of the suicides in our study would have been gay. Once again, no evidence that a large proportion of suicides are gay, but [6% is] more or less [what] we would expect in the general population.
Beyond the studies cited by Shaffer, a 1991 survey by the respected Gallup Organization found little support for the theory that homosexuality is a prime cause of teen suicide. Gallup polled a random sample of 1,152 teenagers, 60 percent of whom said they knew a teen who had attempted suicide; although 10 causes were cited, none specifically mentioned that the person's sexuality problems were the impetus for his suicidal behavior.
A more telling finding from the Gallup report was the view of the 15 percent of respondents who said they had actually come close to committing suicide. (Six percent reported attempting to kill themselves.) These teenagers were asked the open-ended question of what factors led them to their act of desperation. The most commonly cited causes were such things as family problems, depression, "boy/girl relationships," and low self-esteem, but gender or sexuality crises were not reported as a cause.
"That was asked as an open-ended question and nobody answered, 'because I'm gay,'" recalled Howard "Red" Smith, senior market manager at Gallup who oversaw the poll.
Problem #2: Gibson Cites Gay Studies with Unrepresentative Samples
In what has become a defining characteristic of pro-gay scholarship (e.g., Simon LeVay's flawed study of brain structure), Gibson errs in supporting his thesis with data collected from institutions whose clientele do not represent the overall homosexual population. Writes Shaffer:
Where did the idea that gay suicide is common come from? There have been a series of unusual groups of gays that provide an excellent example of how bad research provides misleading answers that can come home to roost. All were among what epidemiologists call "convenience samples," that is, the studies used subjects that were easy to find, but who were almost certainly not representative of gays at large.
As noted above, the foundation of Gibson's claim of a soaring rate of gay teen suicides is data culled from surveys at youth assistance or "drop in" centers. Many of the centers studied are gay-oriented establishments for homeless youth or those facing severe crises, such as the Institute for the Protection of Gay and Lesbian Youth in New York City. Such sample groups skew the results because they reflect a pool of troubled youth who are naturally more suicidal than a random sample of teens.
Another study cited by Gibson is the 1978 report by Kinsey Institute researchers A.P. Bell and M.S. Weinberg, which found that 38 percent of lesbians and 35 percent of gay men had attempted or seriously considered suicide. But Shaffer notes that about 40 percent of the male subjects for this study were recruited from bars or bathhouses, and another quarter were recruited from gays with personal contacts in such places. Thus a high proportion of men interviewed had an alcohol problem. Shaffer writes:
...gays who hang out in bars will likely include a disproportionate number of alcoholics and almost every study on suicide shows that alcohol is strongly associated with suicide.
Problem #3: Gibson's Supporting Studies Lack Control Groups
A critical error in the works used by Gibson to show a preponderance of gays among suicide attempters is their lack of a heterosexual control group to put their findings in context. Shaffer writes:
Drop-in centers are places of comfort and shelter for unsupported and neglected youngsters, whether gay or straight. To make sense of a high rate of suicide attempts in gays who use shelters, you would need to see if the rate was higher than in a control or comparison group of non-gay shelter users, which these studies have not done.
Researcher Susan Blumenthal of the National Institutes of Mental Health concurs, noting with regard to the studies cited by Gibson:
...many of these studies have a small sample size, lack comparison groups, and have difficulties ascertaining the prevalence of homosexuality in the population being studied.
Interestingly, a recent unpublished study of high-risk youth found a much lower incidence of youths cit-ing homosexuality as a factor in their suicide attempts. Leona L. Eggert, a researcher at the University of Washington, Seattle, questioned 64 students who were screened as "high risk" suicidal youth. The youngsters were asked questions about various aspects of their lives to find out what "stressors" may have contributed to their suicidal behavior. Only one student said that sexual orientation problems contributed to his attempted suicide.
In an interview, Eggert said she was wary of making the 1 in 64 data public because it offers no definitive picture of the role that homosexuality plays. She noted that the purpose of the study was to evaluate suicide prevention programs and not to assess homosexuality specifically. She said that the lone question relating to sexual orientation did not "properly set the stage" for a thorough analysis of sexual orientation as a factor in suicide.
Eggert said the question did come toward the end of the survey-when respondents would be more comfortable with the interviewer and presumably more truthful. But she said that a thorough effort would have involved several questions about the stigmatized factor of homosexuality.
Keeping Eggert's reservations in mind, findings such as the 1-in-64 statistic deserve public airing, particularly since gay activists irresponsibly promote the fiction that 30 percent of all youth suicides are gay.
With regard to the "30 percent" assertion, Peter Muehrer, chief of the youth mental health program in the Prevention Research Branch of the National Institutes of Mental Health, said that nobody can make definitive claims about the percentages of "gay" youth suicides. No national or statewide studies published in peer-reviewed journals have analyzed completed suicides of homosexual youths during the past 30 years, he noted. The closest thing, Muehrer said, was the Charles Rich study cited above, and that was limited to San Diego. Muehrer noted that Paul Gibson's HHS paper is merely an "essay" that presents no new data on completed suicides.
Problem #4: Gibson Is Too Simplistic, Neglecting Other Psychological Factors Behind Most Suicides
Gibson, like many other homosexual advocates, assumes that the cause of suicide in alleged gay youth is internalized "homophobia." But, as Shaffer notes, the assumption that the "humiliation, abuse and isolation" experienced by gay adolescents leads to suicide "would be at variance with what we usually see among suicides....Sheer adversity of life does not in itself seem to lead to suicide." He writes that the evidence from completed suicides and suicide-attempting youth suggests that they fall into three main categories: "hot-headed," aggressive males; teenagers who are "chronically and irrationally anxious;" and the woefully depressed who plan their suicides carefully.
According to Shaffer, who has spent a career studying the thought and mental feelings of troubled teens, "gay" suicide victims are not distinguished among the larger pool of suicide victims. Regarding his study of "gay" New York teenagers who killed themselves, he writes:
..I have leafed through their sad case records and there seemed little to differentiate them from the straight suicides. The stories were the same: a court appearance scheduled for the day of the death; prolonged depression; drug and alcohol problems; etc.
Most studies of homosexual suicide attempts find other influencing factors present in their backgrounds that are common to all cases of suicide. For example, one 1989 study of suicidal behavior in young adult gay men found that the "suicidal" men were more than three times as likely as the "non-suicidal" men to have alcoholic fathers, and more than twice as likely to have no religious affiliation and a family history of suicide. Other harmful factors such as divorce were found to be disproportionate among the suicidal men.
Blumenthal writes that although the humiliation related to homosexuality may be a precipitant of a suicide attempt, that does not make it the cause: "...[T]he most important risk factor is the presence of mental illness ...those gay and heterosexual youths at highest risk may have certain predisposing factors, such as a family history of suicide and a biological vulnerability that interacts with risk factors developed later in life, including a psychiatric illness, substance abuse, and poor social supports."
Note that while some observers might classify homosexual desires as a "mental illness" leading to increased suicidal behavior, that classification is emphatically rejected by Gibson and other gay academics who insist that homosexuality is a normal condition.
Problem #5: Gibson Assumes a Permanent Homosexual "Orientation" Fixed at Birth
On page (3)-114 of his study, Gibson writes, "A gay or lesbian adolescence is not just a phase the youth is going through." Although he asserts this as fact, it is nothing more than a judgment-and one that is contradicted by recent gay research. Gary Remafedi, a homosexual researcher at the University of Minnesota, recently published a study in the journal Pediatrics which found that students' confusion with regard to their "sexual orientation" decreased with age. Significantly, the survey of nearly 35,000 Minnesota youth (grades 7 through 12) found that older students were less likely to identify themselves as homosexual or bisexual than younger students:
The percentage of students reporting a predominantly ("mostly" or "100%") heterosexual orientation increased slightly with age from 98.4% at age 12 to 99.2% at 18 years of age, with a corresponding decline in the percentage who adopted the bisexual label.
A significant body of evidence exists that a sizeable percentage of men and women experiment with homosexual acts in their youth but go on to lead normal, heterosexual lives. Such evidence is resisted by the gay lobby, which increasingly argues that one's homosexual "identity" is fixed at birth or in one's very early years and cannot be changed. In Massachusetts, Gov. Weld's Commission on Gay and Lesbian Youth was presented with testimony from men and women who had experimented with homosexuality in their youth but abandoned such behavior and found happiness. But the commission rejected such testimonies in preparing its report calling for pro-gay school programs, apparently because it did not fit the objective of confirming "gay and lesbian youth" in their homosexuality.
Alan Medinger, a former homosexual and director of Regeneration, an ex- gay ministry based in Baltimore, said that, given the evidence of changed lives and research suggesting that students' views about their sexuality are fluid, "It is absolutely criminal to take a confused kid and lead him into a life that could kill him." Yet a pro-homosexual orientation is precisely the goal of counseling programs like Project 10.
Problem #6: Gibson's Study Embraces Radical Homosexual Agenda
Beyond the shoddy methodology, Gibson's paper and his motives must be assessed within the context of his recommendations-several of which are sweeping in scope. Since he attributes the homosexual's anxiety and depression to a "homophobic" culture that forces gays into self-hatred, Gibson proposes to help the aggrieved homosexual by proposing that society offer "positive" reinforcement to his gayness.
Even churches that oppose homosexuality on biblical grounds need to "reassess" their views, he says, or they risk contributing to the violence and hatred against gays. Gibson writes:
Many traditional (e.g., Catholicism) and fundamentalist (e.g., Baptist) faiths still portray homosexuality as morally wrong or evil...These beliefs can also create unresolvable internal conflicts for gay youth who adhere to their faith but believe they will not change their sexual orientation. They may feel wicked and condemned to hell and attempt suicide in despair of ever obtaining redemption...
Religions need to reassess homosexuality in a positive context within their belief systems... Religions should also take responsibility for providing their families and membership with positive information about homosexuality that discourages the oppression of lesbians and gay men. Faiths that condemn homosexuality should recognize how they contribute to the rejection of gay youth by their families and suicide among lesbian and gay male youth.
On the supposed normalcy of homosexuality, Gibson again reveals his militancy:
Homosexuality...is a natural and healthy expression of human sexuality. If homosexuality is not an illness or disorder, it cannot be regarded as such to the extent that it occurs in the young...
Transsexual youth who are open about their identity face extreme abuse and rejection from their families...The only known course of treatment is to help transsexuals adjust to their believed gender identity and obtain sex-assignment surgery. Most transsexual youth, however, are unable to obtain or afford the help they need in resolving their identity conflicts.
There is nothing inherently self-destructive in homosexual feelings and relationships that could be a source of suicidal behavior...
...[m]arriages between homosexuals should be recognized...A conscious effort must be made to dispel the destructive myths about homosexuality at all levels of society...Massive education efforts need to take place that would provide people with accurate information about homosexuality. These efforts need to be directed to those who have responsibility for the care of the young including families, clergy, teachers, and helping professionals...
All youth need to be presented with positive information about homosexuality that presents it as a viable adaptation. We must accept a homosexual orientation in young people in the same manner we accept a heterosexual orientation...
It is important for schools to hire openly gay male and lesbian teachers to serve as role models and resource people for gay youth.
These and other radical statements expose Gibson as an ardent activist- not a dispassionate re-searcher. Yet his paper and statistics have been quoted by gay leaders and liberal educators as if they were the work of a renowned statistician. Meanwhile, the work of academics who find a much lower incidence of homosexuality among suicidal teens is ignored.
Perhaps the myth of a gay teen suicide "holocaust" is irresistible to gay activists because it squares so perfectly with their strategy of embracing victim status to gain sympathy with the general population. That strategy was eloquently stated by homosexual authors Marshall Kirk and Hunter Madsen:
...In any campaign to win over the public, gays must be portrayed as victims in need of protection so that straights will be inclined by reflex to adopt the role of protector. ...The purpose of victim imagery is to make straights feel very uncomfortable; that is, to jam with shame the self-righteous pride that would ordinarily accompany and reward their antigay belligerence, and to lay the groundwork for the process of conversion by helping straights identify with gays and sympathize with their underdog status.
Trojan Horse for More Gay-Positive Programs
The fact that gay activists would use a discredited and sloppy study like Gibson's to advance their agenda shows there is more to their apocalyptic warnings of a gay teen suicide "epidemic" than mere concern for troubled youth. Since these activists cling so stubbornly to Gibson's study as evidence of the need for pro-gay intervention programs in schools, it is only fair to assume they will follow the rest of his guidelines for expanding the pro-homosexual message to schoolchildren. In fact, this is clearly the case.
In Massachusetts, pro-family activists warn that gay activists are already using the heart-tugging teen suicide issue as a Trojan horse to bring their destructive agenda into the public school system. Such fears are borne out in the report issued by the state's Commission on Gay and Lesbian Youth, which contains a long-term recommendation for teachers to "integrate gay and lesbian themes and issues into their subject areas."
Massachusetts pro-family activist Nancy Sutton notes that under the state's new "education reform" law, schools are being pressured into starting pro-gay counseling programs (similar to Project 10) through the threat of withholding state funds to school districts that fail to comply. Among the groups that have volunteered to help schools comply with the "Project Teen Health" guidelines (that include pro-gay suicide prevention) are pro-homosexual outfits like the Boston Alliance of Gay & Lesbian Youth.
There appears to be evidence that youth confused about their sexuality are at greater risk for suicide. But it is foolhardy to use the polemical work of Paul Gibson as proof that there is an "epidemic" (or worse, a "holocaust") of gay youth suicides that requires drastic action. Homosexual activists who do so risk expanding the cracks in their already fractured credibility.
Further research and careful debate on this issue are warranted. Ann Garland of the Department of Psychology at Yale University wrote recently, "There is considerable debate over whether homosexuality is a risk factor for suicide." There is also great disagreement among psychiatrists over whether suicide intervention programs in schools actually work; some believe they cause more harm by implanting the idea of suicide in the minds of impetuous youth. Shaffer, Garland, and other specialists on suicide write that "to date there is no evidence of even marginal efficacy" of school-based suicide intervention programs.
Although the increase in general youth suicides in recent years certainly warrants concern, Shaffer notes that "suicide is a relatively uncommon cause of death; fewer than 20 boys out of every 100,000 who are alive, will commit suicide in a year." Great care must be taken not to endanger youths who otherwise would not be touched by suicide in the name of "rescuing" a tiny portion of the teen population who, in reality, are not best or most accurately identified by their struggles over sexuality.
Moreover, Gibson himself cites Remafedi in noting that the "earlier a youth is aware of a gay or lesbian orientation, the greater the problems they face and more likely the risk of suicidal feelings and behavior." Paradoxically, programs like Project 10 encourage impressionable teens to take that potentially lethal step of "identifying" themselves as homosexuals at a young age.
The dangers of pro-homosexual counseling programs of the type envisioned by homosexual activists to "rescue" suicidal "gay and lesbian teens" is perhaps best described by former homosexual Alan Medinger:
In schools all over the country, children...are being labelled "sexual minority" students and are being led to counselors drawn from the gay community. How often are the deeply rooted needs and biases of these "counselors" going to lead them to counsel the "unsure" that they are gay? "Unsure" in their minds often means that the youngster is simply afraid of coming to terms with his or her homosexuality...
From every medical and health aspect-up to and including the probability of becoming infected with AIDS-it is tragic, even criminal to lead a child into homosexuality because he or she showed some degree of sexual confusion in adolescence.
[This article first appeared in the Family Research Council's Insight, February 1994. Used by permission.]
Table 5-1, Deaths of People Aged 15 to 24, by Age and Cause of Death, 1965-1988, Office of Education Research and Improvement, U.S. Department of Education, cited in Losing Generations: Adolescents in High-Risk Settings, Commission on Behavioral and Social Sciences and Education, National Research Council (National Academy Press: Washington, D.C.), 1993, p. 83.
Dr. Louis W. Sullivan, M.D., Secretary of Health and Human Services, letter to Representative William E. Dannemeyer, October 1989.
David Shaffer, "Political Science," The New Yorker, May 3, 1993, p. 116.
Paul Gibson, "Gay Male and Lesbian Youth Suicide," originally contained in "Report of the Secretary's Task Force on Youth Suicide," January 1989.
A good example is an essay by Del Stover which appeared in Education Digest (May 1992), condensed from The Executive Educator (March 1992). Mr. Stover writes: "The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services reported in 1989 that 30 percent of all teens who commit suicide are gay and that gay teens are two to three times more likely than other teens to attempt suicide."
Phone interview with author, March 8, 1993.
Report issued by (Massachusetts') Governor's Commission on Gay and Lesbian Youth, "Making Schools Safe for Gay and Lesbian Youth," February 25, 1993, p. 5. The Massachusetts document stated regarding Gibson's paper: "In 1989, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services issued a stunning report on youth suicide, with a chapter on gay and lesbian youth suicide. Pressure from anti-gay forces within the Bush/Quayle administration led to suppression, not only of the controversial chapter, but also of the entire report."
Chris Bull, "Hetero Heroes: William Weld," The Advocate, cover story, November 16, 1993, p. 58.
Sara Rimer, "Gay Rights Law for Schools Advances in Massachusetts," The New York Times, December 8, 1993, p. A-10.
David LaFontaine, director of the Coalition for Lesbian and Gay Civil Rights, quoted in New York Native, February 24, 1992. Gov. Weld's Task Force on Gay and Lesbian Youth is the first government agency of its kind in the nation.
Paul Cameron, "Study on Gay Death Rates/Age," Family Research Institute, 1992. Ironically, Cameron notes that a proclivity towards suicide among gay adults contributes toward their early death rates.
Gibson, op. cit., p. (3)-115, citing Parris, F., "Some Die Young," Washington Blade, May 17, 1985. In 1988, a total of 2,059 adolescents ages 15-19 and 243 children under age 15 committed suicide, according to the National Center for Health Statistics. These figures were reported by Ann F. Garland and Edward Zigler ("Adolescent Suicide Prevention," American Psychologist, February, 1993). The National Center for Health Statistics reports that in 1991, the latest year for which suicide statistics are available, the breakdown is as follows according to age categories: 5-9 (1); 10-14 (265); 15-19 (1,899); 20-24 (2,852) for a total of 5,017 (phone interview with author, January 31, 1994). Even if we accept this expanded definition of "youth" to include 24-year-olds, the figure in Gibson's report of 3,000 annual gay youth suicides would mean that well over half of all youth suicides are by homosexuals-a patent absurdity.
David Shaffer, interview with author, April 22, 1993.
Gibson, op. cit., p. (3)-115.
Gary Remafedi, MD, MPH, Michael Resnick, PhD, Robert Blum, MD, PhD, Linda Harris, Pediatrics, April 1992, pp. 714-721.
A good summary of the studies can be found in J. Gordon Muir, "Homosexuals and the 10% Fallacy," The Wall Street Journal, March 31, 1993, p. A-14.
David Shaffer, "Teen Suicide and Gays in the Military," unpublished paper from which the article in The New Yorker above (see footnote no. 1) was derived, March 22, 1993, p. 6. Shaffer is Irving Philips Professor of Child Psychiatry at Columbia University.
Shaffer, Ibid, pp. 6-7, citing Charles Rich, Richard Fowler, and Mary Benkush (1986), Suicide & Life-Threatening Behavior, Vol. 16, issue 4, pp. 448-457.
Shaffer, Ibid, pp. 7-8.
Narrative Summary of Teenage Suicide Study, The Gallup Organization, January 1991, p. 7.
Howard "Red" Smith, phone interview with author, April 14, 1993.
Shaffer, "Teen Suicide and Gays in the Military," p. 10.
Shaffer, Ibid, p. 11
Shaffer, Ibid, p. 11.
Susan J. Blumenthal, MD, MPA, letter to Journal of the American Medical Association, June 5, 1991, pp. 2806-2807.
Leona L. Eggert, interview with author, January 27, 1994.
Peter Muehrer, interview with author, January 28, 1994.
Shaffer, unpublished paper, March 22, 1993, p. 12.
Shaffer, p. 14
Stephen G. Schneider, PhD, Norman L. Farberow, PhD, and Gabriel N. Kruks, "Suicidal Behavior in Adolescent and Young Adult Gay Men," Suicidal and Life-Threatening Behavior, Winter 1989, pp. 381- 394.
Blumenthal, op. cit., pp. 2806-2807.
Remafedi, et al, op. cit.
Nancy Sutton, director of Family First, a pro-family group based in Needham, Massachusetts that opposes Gov. Weld's pro-gay initiatives. Ex- gay testimonies were sent through Family First. Phone interview with author, August 4, 1993.
Alan Medinger, interview with author, July 27, 1993.
Gibson, op. cit., p. (3)-128, (3)-135.
Gibson, ibid., pp. (3)-115, 24, 126, 133, 134, 135.
Marshall Kirk and Hunter Madsen, After the Ball: How America Will Conquer Its Fear & Hatred of Gays in the 1990s (Doubleday: New York: 1990), p. 183.
"Making Schools Safe for Gay and Lesbian Youth," the Governor's Commission on Gay and Lesbian Youth, Recommendation Five, p. 30.
Nancy Sutton, phone interview with author, August 5, 1993.
List of Project Teen Health groups provided by Sutton.
Ann F. Garland, "Adolescent Suicide Prevention," American Psychologist, February 1993, p. 173.
Shaffer, Garland, Veronica Vieland, PhD, Mary Rojas, PhD, Maureen Underwood, MSW, Cary Busner, MPH, letter to Journal of the American Medical Association, June 5, 1991, p. 2805.
Shaffer, unpublished paper, op. cit., p. 5.
Gibson, op. cit., p. 3-125.
Alan Medinger, Regeneration News, February 1993, p. 1-2.
Peter LaBarbera, a former reporter for The Washington Times, is executive director of Accuracy in Academia, a Washington, D.C.-based group that monitors bias in higher education.
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