There is an abundance of information in the media, on the internet, and in conversation about what it means to be gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, questioning your sexuality, or an ally. How do we know what sources of information to believe and to trust? Open Doors has a goal on campus to bring the truth and facts about GLBTQA people to ONU. Here are just a few myths and facts that we would like people to know about:
Fact 1: Yes, you do! Alfred Kinsey in his study published in 1947, estimated that 13% of the male population and 7% of the female population were exclusively gay and lesbian. Kinsey also found that over half of the adult population had at least one homosexual experience. Many people now view sexuality on a continuum, not opposing "camps", in which many or perhaps most people are not exclusively gay, lesbian or heterosexual during their whole lives.
The Kinsey study has been criticized and found to have several flaws which make the estimates less reliable. A more recent and widely regarded study conducted in 1994 by the University of Chicago, The National Health and Social Life Survey, deduced that from 2.7 to 4.9 percent of males are gay and from 1.3 to 4.1 percent of females are lesbians. Although estimates are lower, considering there are about 380 million Americans and using their percentages, at least 5 million gay men and 2.5 million lesbian women live in the United States alone.
Myth 2: It's "unnatural" to be lesbian or gay. Homosexuals are "sick".
Fact 2: In the 1970s, the American Psychological Association and the American Psychiatric Association both determined that homosexuality is not a mental disorder and removed it from that classification in their professional guidelines. In 1994, the American Medical Association released a statement saying, "Most of the emotional disturbances experienced by gay men and lesbians around their sexual identity is not based on physiological causes but rather is due more to a sense of alienation in a unaccepting environment."
There are a number of religious-based organizations that claim to change a person's sexuality through a process called "reparative therapy" or "conversion therapy." Little scientifically valid evidence exists to show that people can change their sexuality rather than merely repress their sexual desires. All major health and mental health associations reject this therapy due to its ineffectiveness and likelihood to cause harm to the individual.
Myth 3: Lesbian and gay men are protected by civil rights laws.
Fact 3: In most places in the U.S. gay men, lesbians and bisexuals can be legally fired from their jobs regardless of job performance or seniority. They can also be denied the right to housing without any legal recourse. Lesbian and gay parents can, and often do, lose custody of their children without any discussion of their parenting skills. In short, it is legal to discriminate, except in those few but growing number of states and cities in which sexual orientation is a specific, protected class. Livings under oppression and pretending to not be a homosexual can exact a high emotional tool in terms of feelings of self-worth, and can cause serious psychological damage. Not because of one's homosexuality but because of how a particular society considers homosexuality.
According to an April 2006 review conducted by the Equality Ohio Education Fund, Ohio ranks dead last in the entire United States and District of Columbia in terms of state laws related to GLBT equality. Each state received positive marks for non-discrimination laws, hate crimes laws, school bully bills, allowing birth certificate correction, and allowing second parent adoption while receiving negative marks for banning second parent adoption, Legislative Defense of Marriage Acts, and constitutional amendments banning marriage equality. Ohio has a hate crime law, but without language specifying GLBT and has both a Defense of Marriage Act and constitutional amendment banning marriage equality, putting our state in 51st place. California, Minnesota, and Washington, DC all scored on top with laws specifically protecting GLBT people.
Myth 4: Bad parenting and/or family problems cause homosexuality. People "choose" to be gay or straight.
Fact 4: There is no conclusive evidence of what "causes" homosexuality or heterosexuality. Homosexual and heterosexual people come from every type of family background. As always, a good parent will teach love, self-respect, and respect for others. Many scientists believe that sexual orientation is set at birth, certainly by the age five. Recent research, on twins and the DNA of gay men, has shown that genetics plays an important role in establishing one's sexual orientation. Most gay men and lesbians have no desire to be "cured" (heterosexual); those who do are responding to the negative societal attitudes toward them. The "cure" needed is not for gay people but for society's negative attitudes or "homophobia".
Myth 5: Homosexuals are out for one thing - sex - and nobody's safe.
Fact 5: Gay/lesbian relationships are based on emotional and friendship bonds as well as sexual intimacy, the same relationship ingredients as any heterosexual relationship. About 50% of gay people report never having had a "one-night stand". This figure is probably equivalent to the percentage of heterosexuals. Gay relationships are long and short while some last a lifetime. Gay relationships may be harder to maintain, however, because their homosexual relationship is not sanctioned or supported by this society, at this time. The right to marry for gay men and lesbian women would help to strengthen gay/lesbian relationships by allowing people to have a positive goal to work toward and would reduce promiscuity due to legal restrictions and possibility of divorce.
Myth 6: Gay people do not make good parents. All lesbians are man haters. All gay men hate women.
Fact 6: Homosexuality is not a negative relation to the opposite sex but a stronger, more powerful desire for emotional and physical intimacy with same-sex individuals. Many gay men and lesbians have been married and "came out" while married. About 1/3 of lesbians are mothers. Most of these mothers had their children while married. Many lesbians and gay men want children. Some people fear that gay or lesbian parents are not as loving, responsible or dependable as heterosexual parents. Homosexual parents can not impose their sexual orientation on their children.
Every mainstream health and child welfare organization including the Child Welfare League of America and the American Academy of Pediatrics has issued policies opposing restrictions on lesbian and gay parenting. These groups acknowledge the scientific evidence and widely accepted standards that children need love, protection, stability and guidance; gay and lesbian parents have met these standards in dozens of studies conducted within the last 20 years that show children from gay/lesbian parents are just as healthy and well-adjusted as other children.
Myth 7: There are no gay, lesbian, bisexual youth. Children are not affected by homophobia.
Fact 7: Using 10% of a population as homosexual, there is approximately 2.9 million gay or lesbian adolescents in the U.S. It is important to know that one in four families has a lesbian or gay man in the immediate family. The presence of open lesbians and gay men in a family may make it easier for younger lesbians or gay men in a family to have a positive self-image, and easier "coming out" process, than in families in which there are no open gay or lesbian members. Because of "closeting", due to oppression, it is not always apparent. Most traditional support groups (families, places of worship, schools, peers, and society in general) often reject, ostracize or deny the existence of gay, lesbian and bisexual youth. Statistics indicate the incidence of substance abuse, suicide, school/peer/home problems is disproportionately high among gay, lesbian and bisexual youth. Suicide is the leading cause of death among gay and lesbian adolescents.
Myth 8: Homosexuals contribute nothing to society. It's the lack of decency and morality in the 20th century that causes homosexuality.
Fact 8: Historically, gay, lesbian and bisexual people have made innumerable contributions to society: Plato, Leonardo da Vinci, Julius Caesar, Gertrude Stein, Michelangelo, Peter Tchaikovsky, Alexander the Great, T.E. Lawrence, Truman Capote, Bessie Smith, Alice B. Toklas, James Baldwin, Horatio Alger, Hans Christian Andersen, Peter the Great, Richard the Lionhearted, James I are all suspected or confirmed to be gay or lesbian. Today, many popular and influential people are lesbian, gay or bisexual but most hide their private lives (Rock Hudson, Roy Cohn). They live in fear of the intolerance and hatred they might be subjected to if someone associated "gay" or "lesbian" with their name.
Myth 9: Gay, lesbian and bisexual work in specific fields.
Fact 9: Gays are found in every occupation and profession. For example: National Lawyers Guild Gay and Lesbian Caucus, National Education Association Gay and Lesbian Caucus, Gay Nurses Association, Gay and Lesbian Association of Scientist and Engineers, Gay Prize Fighters of American Association...just to name a few.
Myth 10: All Christian denominations reject homosexuality as a sin.
Fact 10: Most Christian denominations are divided on the issue. For example, the United Methodist Church states in the Book of Discipline 2004 that "homosexual persons no less than heterosexual persons are individuals of sacred worth." A few lines down, the contrary statement appears that, "the United Methodist Church does not condone the practice of homosexuality and consider this practice incompatible with Christian teaching." Recent disagreements from the Council of Bishops in the United Methodist Church have surfaced after the Judicial Council upheld the decision by a pastor to reject an openly gay man from church membership in Virginia. However, there are specific churches in the United Methodist Church that welcome gay, lesbian, and transgender individuals, for example King Avenue UMC in Columbus. Although most Christian denominations will publicly state anti-gay policies, quite a few individual Christians and specific Christian churches welcome gay members as they are.
For more facts and information, check out the links to our most valued and trusted websites for national organizations that can give additional information. The citations for studies to some of the facts given in this section can be found in literature provided by the American Civil Liberties Union "Too High a Price: The Case Against Restricting Gay Parenting," the Human Rights Campaign "Resource Guide to Coming Out," "The Campaign to End Homophobia", and the "Lesbian and Gay Public Awareness Project."