Category archives: Human Sexuality

New York is the Latest State to Trample on the Hopes of Foster Children

by Kayla Sargent

July 31, 2019

When I was about eight years old, some family friends of mine fostered (and eventually adopted) a severely neglected 18-month-old girl. She was placed in foster care after her parents, both addicted to drugs, would not change her diaper or feed her, sometimes for days on end. When she first entered the custody of her new foster parents, she gorged herself at mealtime until she became sick because for her entire life, she never knew when or from where her next meal would come.

Most children in the foster care system have suffered unimaginable trauma. The 500,000 children in foster care are significantly more likely to experience depression, anxiety, and other developmental and behavioral issues compared to children who do not spend time in the system.

One might think that, at the very least, ensuring that children have a roof over their heads and three meals a day would not be a political issue. One would think that everyone would want these children to have the best care possible. And one would think that faith-based adoption agencies, given the emphasis that the Bible places on caring for widows and orphans, ought to be able to help provide for these children without fear of religious persecution.

Unfortunately, this is not the case.

New Hope Family Services of New York is suing the state after being given an ultimatum by the state’s Office of Child and Family Services stating that they would have to start “placing children with unmarried couples and same-sex couples” or they would be “choosing to close.” It is not because they are not providing adequate care to children, or because they are unable to place children in homes, but because they refuse to allow same-sex couples or couples who are unmarried to adopt.

They are not alone. Across the nation, Christian organizations that believe children belong with a mother and a father are being forced to close their doors because of alleged “discrimination.” In 2018, the state of Illinois forced Catholic Charities for the Diocese of Springfield to close, displacing roughly 3,000 children. Earlier that same year, the city of Philadelphia “barred Bethany Christian Services and Catholic Social Services” from serving children in need because of their beliefs about marriage.

What is especially tragic about these shutdowns is that they not only affect the employees of these agencies—they impact hundreds, if not thousands, of children in desperate need of a loving home.

In Obergefell v. Hodges, we were promised that, “The First Amendment ensures that religious organizations and persons are given proper protection as they seek to teach the principles that are so fulfilling and so central to their lives and faiths, and to their own deep aspirations to continue the family structure they have long revered.” These shutdowns are a clear violation of this principle handed down by the Supreme Court, and are currently being challenged.

Regardless of your stance on marriage, and even your stance on discrimination, children should not be the ones that are punished in the ongoing war being waged on religious liberty by LGBT activists. When “equality” demands that certain adoption providers be shut down and children are denied adequate care and a loving home with a mother and a father as a result, it is no longer equality, but oppression. Just as little girls should not have to gorge themselves for fear of not having enough to eat in the future, faith-based adoption providers should not have to violate their religious beliefs in order to continue helping children in need find loving homes.

Kayla Sargent is an intern at Family Research Council.

Engaging a Culture in Crisis: Christians Gather to Discuss Strategies

by Cathy Ruse

July 30, 2019

Two hundred Catholics gathered for a two-day conference last weekend high in the hills above La Crosse, Wisconsin. Organized by Cardinal Raymond Burke, former Chief Justice of the Vatican Supreme Court. Cardinal Burke is one of the most important bishops in the Catholic Church and is seen by millions of Catholics as the torchbearer of Christian orthodoxy in what can be a very confusing time. The conference took place at a remarkable hilltop complex dedicated to Mary that includes a shrine to unborn children lost to abortion and miscarriage.

The conference heard from noted experts on the cultural and religious crisis of our time. Robert Royal, author of many books, editor in chief of The Catholic Thing, president of the Faith & Reason Institute, and talking head on Eternal Word Television Network, told the crowd about the mass Christian conversion of Aztec Indians in the 16th century and how our own time calls for a similar conversion.

My husband, Austin Ruse, president of the Center for Family and Human Rights, exhorted the audience to consider that there is no finer time to be a faithful Christian than right now, not in spite of the massive problems around us but precisely because of them. He said the apostles were not exactly the “A Team,” and maybe neither are we. But God knows what He is about, and He sent the likes of us, right here, right now, to defend His creation.

I discussed the competing visions of the Christian Gospel and the “Transgender Gospel.”

The “gospel” of Transgender is hypocritical, mendacious, and deceptive. It wraps itself in the mantel of science, even while it scorns all science that does not further its political goals. Biology is bigotry, according to the transgender ideology.

It speaks of “safe environments,” then forces open the private spaces of women and girls to biological males, including predators.

It calls for “non-discrimination,” then discriminates against women and girls by robbing them of sports victories, scholarships, and careers—and exposing them to physical danger on the playing field.

It calls itself “progressive,” but acts like a retrogressive tyrant, especially when it comes to the freedom of speech.

And worst of all, it preaches “acceptance,” then tells kids to reject their own bodies, even to the point of mutilation.

Our duty, as Christians, is to tell the truth about the human person, no matter what. We must tell all who will listen that to deny our human nature is to reject our human dignity. It is ultimately to reject God.

It is the Tempter’s promise of freedom, but it leads only to degradation and enslavement.

One small but important way to tell the Truth is to use truthful language. We should always use the word “sex” when referring to the biological reality of the physical nature of male and female.

Don’t say “gender” when we mean sex. Stella Morabito has it absolutely right: “Gender is a poisoned and weaponized word that has been used to legally de-sex and thus dehumanize us all.” 

As Christians, we are uniquely qualified to make the case for the truth about the human person. Because we are not confused. We know there are not 58 genders, but two sexes. 

Only a post-Christian culture could be so vulnerable to this kind of deception. As G.K. Chesterton wrote: “The first effect of not believing in God is to believe in anything.”

Ours is a different creed. We believe in a loving Father who created us in His own image: male and female. We believe that every person is born in exactly the right body.

What a joy to be called to bring this life-affirming, life-saving message to our culture, right now.

Administration Must Avoid Obama Cultural Imperialism

by Peter Sprigg

July 29, 2019

The Obama administration was guilty of what some have called “cultural imperialism.” This included various efforts to force small, poor—and often socially conservative—countries to accept and codify the values of the West’s sexual revolution. Examples include pressure placed on the Dominican Republic to liberalize abortion laws (in violation of their own constitution), and the withholding of foreign aid from the desperately poor African country of Malawi in an effort to force liberalization of their laws on homosexual conduct.

Family Research Council spoke out against such policies at the time. Fortunately, the Trump administration has backed off from some of the worst of this cultural imperialism, such as that practiced at the United Nations. However, we are concerned that the administration’s “global campaign to decriminalize homosexuality”—endorsed in a tweet from the White House Twitter account on July 26—may represent a remnant of that same mentality.

There are some legitimate concerns about the treatment of people who self-identify as homosexual in some other countries. As we wrote when news of the “global campaign” was first reported in February:

Family Research Council vigorously opposes acts of violence against anyone because of their sexuality. According to NBC, there are eight countries which permit the death penalty for homosexuality—most of them also known as abusers of religious freedom and other rights, and supporters of terrorism. An end to those laws, and other physical punishments such as flogging, is a legitimate goal.

(In the past, there have been false reports that FRC supported a bill in Uganda that would have allowed the death penalty for certain homosexual acts. This has never been the case.) There may also be countries where governments turn a blind eye to extra-judicial violence against those who identify as homosexual. This, too, is unacceptable.

We endorsed the statement by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo at his confirmation hearing, when he said, ““I deeply believe LGBTQ persons have every right that every other person has.”

However, the fact that LGBTQ-identified persons have every human right does not mean that engaging in homosexual conduct is itself a human right. As we stated in 2011, “No treaty or widely accepted international agreement has established homosexual conduct as a human right.” For example, homosexual conduct has known health risks, so foreign governments should be left free to take steps to discourage or deter such conduct.

Furthermore, any effort to force an “LGBT rights” agenda on other countries risks running afoul of other principles which actually have been well-established as international rights—namely, the rights of individual conscience and of religious liberty. Within the constraints imposed by well-established international law, all countries must be free to establish governments and legal codes based on their own moral values. These are often deeply rooted in religious tradition. What we have called “cultural imperialism” (which Pope Francis has called “ideological colonization”) must not be allowed to trump that sovereign right of each country.

As we wrote in February:

Let’s find common ground in calling for an end to all forms of physical violence against homosexuals — but refrain from imposing the values of the sexual revolution on the rest of the world.

Library Buries Photos of Kids Playing on Top of Drag Queens

by Cathy Ruse

July 23, 2019

Remember the shocking photos of adult men in drag, lying on the floor at a library, with toddlers crawling on top of them? Well, government officials in Multnomah County, Oregon hope you’ll forget about them and keep bringing your children to Drag Queen Story Hours.

Last October, St. John’s public library in Portland, Oregon, presented Anthony Hudson dressed as drag queen “Carla Rossi” in a program for 2 to 6-year-old children.

Afterwards, the Multnomah County Library District was so proud of its event that it shared several photographs of children playing on top of Mr. Hudson. The photos went viral, thanks to outraged moms on Facebook. Earlier this month, LifeSite News reported on the outrage.

Then the county took the photos down, without a word. They are no longer available on the county’s website, but LifeSite News has archived them.

Is it because they’re sorry? Nope. It’s because they got caught.

If they were sorry, they wouldn’t have scheduled more drag events in the library with Mr. Hudson. According to the Multnomah County website, he has been invited back for two events in September billed as “Clown Town” teen drag workshops. Mr. Hudson will once again dress as drag queen “Carla Rossi” and teach kids about the “many flavors” of drag.

Read more about the scandal and the cover-up at The Federalist and Activist Mommy.

Times Op-Ed Conflates “Sex” and “Gender” to Suit Transgender Purposes

by Peter Sprigg

July 19, 2019

A recent New York Times opinion piece by Julia Serano—one of ten commissioned by the Times from “the L.G.B.T.Q. community” for “Pride Month”—turns history upside down with only its second paragraph:

Opponents of transgender rights have increasingly worked to shift conversations and policy language away from gender and toward biological sex.

In reality, it is the supporters of “transgender rights,” not the opponents, who “have increasingly worked to shift conversations and policy language.” However, in this case, the effort has been to redefine the word “sex” to include “gender identity.”

Sex” Discrimination vs. “Gender Identity”

In the courts and legislatures, efforts to end discrimination on the basis of “sex” began over fifty years ago. Congress outlawed discrimination based on “sex” in employment in 1964, and in education in 1972.

In 1964 or 1972, there would have been no question, in the minds of lawmakers or anyone else, that these laws prevented discrimination against individuals for being biologically female or biologically male.

On the other hand, in the last 15 or 20 years there has been an effort to add “gender identity”—“a term that originated in the field of psychology,” as Serano acknowledges—as a protected category in non-discrimination laws, alongside the more traditional categories such as “race” and “sex.” However, these efforts have largely failed in the majority of states and at the federal level.

That failure has led to a shift in strategy by transgender activists. Instead of seeking to add “gender identity” as a new protected category, they have taken to arguing that transgender people are already protected by laws against discrimination based on “sex.”

The Trump administration has rejected this interpretation of the word “sex” in existing statutory law. That conclusion seems to be what has aroused Serano’s ire.

Serano, a male-to-female transgender person (that is, a biological male who identifies psychologically as female), also takes Family Research Council to task for its defense of the administration policy:

The Family Research Council, a conservative Christian activist group, recently published an article titled “Trump transgender policy is simple and scientific: ‘Sex’ means biological sex.”

Perhaps the use of the word “scientific” in that headline was part of what triggered Serano, a biologist, to declare that “these developments … offend me as a scientist.”

What science? Here’s what Serano points to:

… [S]ex also seems straightforward. Every person superficially appears either female or male. But once we look beneath the surface, things are far more complicated.

While there are tangible biological sex characteristics — chromosomes, reproductive organs, hormones and secondary sex characteristics — they do not always fit neatly into male or female classifications, or align with one another within the same individual, as is the case for intersex people.

Yet this argument fails for a simple reason—“intersex people” are not the same as “transgender” people. Ambiguities in some people’s biological sex have nothing to do with anomalies in some people’s psychological “gender identity.”

Science Says: Intersex is Not Transgender

Don’t take my word for it. Look to the American Psychiatric Association. In their Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5), they define “sex” as:

Biological indication of male and female (understood in the context of reproductive capacity), such as sex chromosomes, gonads, sex hormones, and nonambiguous internal and external genitalia.

An “intersex condition” is also biological:

A condition in which individuals have conflicting or ambiguous biological indicators of sex.

 “Gender identity” is something quite different:

A category of social identity that refers to an individual’s identification as male, female or, occasionally, some category other than male or female.

The Intersex Society of North America explains the concept this way:

People who identify as transgender or transsexual are usually people who are born with typical male or female anatomies but feel as though they’ve been born into the “wrong body.” . . .

People who have intersex conditions have anatomy that is not considered typically male or female. Most people with intersex conditions come to medical attention because doctors or parents notice something unusual about their bodies. In contrast, people who are transgendered have an internal experience of gender identity that is different from most people. [emphasis in the original]

The National Center for Transgender Equality makes the same point, in their “Frequently Asked Questions about Transgender People”:

What’s the difference between being transgender and being intersex?

People sometimes confuse being transgender and being intersex. Intersex people have reproductive anatomy or genes that don’t fit typical definitions of male or female, which is often discovered at birth. Being transgender, meanwhile, has to do with your internal knowledge of your gender identity. A transgender person is usually born with a body and genes that match a typical male or female, but they know their gender identity to be different.

 . . .

While it’s possible to be both transgender and intersex, most transgender people aren’t intersex, and most intersex people aren’t transgender.

A piece on “debunking 10 intersex myths”—written by a “Black, queer, non-binary, intersex” author and published a year ago by the LGBT activist group GLAAD—stated:

Intersex people and transgender people are not the same thing. 

It also noted:

Not all intersex people identify as a part of the LGBTQIA community.

A glossary prepared for a National Geographic issue on the “Gender Revolution” in 2017—by the authors of The Teaching Transgender Toolkit—likewise defined gender identity:

A person’s deep-seated, internal sense of who they are as a gendered being; the gender with which they identify themselves.

Intersex, on the other hand, was defined this way:

An umbrella term that describes a person with a genetic, genital, reproductive, or hormonal configuration that does not fit typical binary notions of a male or female body. Intersex is frequently confused with transgender, but the two are completely distinct.

(Unfortunately, even that glossary did not prevent the author of another article in the same issue—as well as Katie Couric, host of a NatGeo TV special on the issue—from wrongly conflating intersex and transgender.)

Simple Truth

Serano’s critique of the FRC piece concludes:

The article not only ignores current thinking in the field of biology, but it also falsely implies that science yields simple answers. History shows otherwise, as scientific research has repeatedly revealed nature to be far more diverse and complex than we initially believed.

Yet the article on “current thinking” to which Serano linked also deals with biological intersex conditions—not psychological transgender ones. The fact that the biology of sex is “diverse and complex” (as with intersex conditions) does not change the simple scientific truth—made clear by the expert definitions above—that “sex” is a biological concept.

Nor does it change the simple legal truth that the word “sex” in non-discrimination law refers to biology, not to the entirely psychological concept of “gender identity.”

I agree wholeheartedly with Serano’s conclusion:

Those who now invoke science in support of their biases and prejudices do it a grave disservice, and science-minded people everywhere must speak out against it.

Unfortunately, Serano is the one guilty of this “grave disservice.”

Joseph Nicolosi on the Deep Need for Fatherly Affirmation

by Peter Sprigg

July 16, 2019

I wrote yesterday about Amazon removing listings for a number of books about sexual orientation change efforts (SOCE), sometimes referred to by critics as “conversion therapy.” A particular target for Rojo Alan (the British LGBT activist who claimed credit for the change) and for other critics were the works of the late Dr. Joseph Nicolosi. He coined the term “reparative therapy” to describe his psychoanalytic approach to sexual orientation change. I have two of the books by Dr. Nicolosi that Amazon has banned in my library. While I have not read either cover to cover, I have read enough to know that they directly contradict some of what critics say about them. The two books are:

  • Joseph Nicolosi, Reparative Therapy of Male Homosexuality: A New Clinical Approach (Northvale, N.J.: Jason Aronson, Inc. 1997)
  • Joseph Nicolosi, Ph.D., & Linda Ames Nicolosi, A Parent’s Guide to Preventing Homosexuality (Downers Grove, Ill.: InterVarsity Press, 2002)

One criticism of Nicolosi in particular stood out. Rojo Alan told the GayStarNews, “The books went into ways in which you can mentally and physically abuse your child.”

Really?

Here are some of the actual recommendations and observations in Nicolosi’s Parent’s Guide:

  • Use “positive and affirming strategies.” (p. 15)
  • The “at-risk boy needs (but does not get) particular affirmation from parents and peers.” (p. 22)
  • [To a father:] “Just be there for Stevie emotionally. Maintain a warm, loving relationship with him and don’t let him pull away.” (p. 29)
  •  “I told Bill that Stevie did not really need therapy. ‘He needs his dad.’” (p. 30)
  • (A father must) “do the little things—the everyday, caring, and loving things” (p. 31).
  • Boys “need from their dads what we reparative therapists call ‘the three A’s’: affection, attention, and approval.” (p. 50)
  •  [Quoting another expert:] “Anything that parents can do to make their kids feel proud of their identity—as young men, as young women—will help the [treatment] process” (p. 154).

Nicolosi’s own work focused primarily on men, but his Parent’s Guide included a chapter on girls as well. It includes these points:

  • For girls, “there should be a warm mother-daughter intimacy … . Indeed, a healthy relationship with Mom provides the most important foundation …” (p. 156)
  • The father of a daughter “provides love and positive regard so that the girl will feel worthy of another man’s love.” (p. 157)
  • When a girl has been found to be involved in a lesbian relationship, the parents will probably be focused on stopping their daughter’s sexual behavior. But the girl herself is primarily concerned about her own feelings of loneliness, alienation, rejection, and poor self-esteem. A skillful therapist can offer concern for the girl’s feelings… . The father will need to assess his involvement in his daughter’s life. This will probably require a more supportive, less intrusive role for him. The mother, at the same time, will need to share her emotional self and her vulnerabilities with her daughter, and build a relationship of greater mutuality.” (pp. 163-64)     

Stereotypes?

Some people suggest that SOCE tries to force boys into stereotypical masculinity. But it is actually pro-LGBT adults who often stereotype a child as “gay” (or even “transgender”) based on their personality traits. Here is what Nicolosi says:

  • The “child should not be forced into a predetermined mold that will cause him to deny his fundamental nature—his natural gifts of creativity, sensitivity, kindness, gentleness, sociability, intuitiveness, or high intellect.” (p. 38)
  • A “boy can be sensitive, kind, social, artistic, gentle—and heterosexual. He can be an artist, an actor, a dancer, a cook, a musician—and a heterosexual. These innate artistic skills are ‘who he is,’ part of the wonderful range of human abilities. No one should try to discourage those abilities and traits.” (p. 48)

 “Rejection”?

Critics of SOCE often argue that it results from a “rejection” of the LGBT child. Does Nicolosi urge parents to reject their children if they identify as gay? The answer is clearly no:

  • Of course, no intervention can guarantee that a child will grow up heterosexual… . I trusted that Margaret and Bill would still love their son if those efforts were not successful.” (p. 32)

Last month, USA Today ran an article about Scott Dittman, a man who attended Pittsburgh’s LGBT Pride parade wearing a t-shirt offering “Free Dad Hugs.” More than 700 people took him up on the offer, with some becoming quite emotional—“you can see how damaged deep down so many of them are,” Dittman reported.

Yet Nicolosi himself wrote something similar, saying:

  • Boys have a need “for a man’s attention, affection, and affirmation—a need to be hugged and held” (p. 30).

Maybe the distance between LGBT activists and the books they persuaded Amazon to ban is not as great as they think—if only they would take the time to read them.

Amazon Book-Banning: Cowardly, Bullying, and Foolish

by Peter Sprigg

July 15, 2019

A year ago, I wrote a blog post warning that a proposed bill in California, AB 2943, could result in books being banned. Some critics of the bill even pointed out how it could be interpreted to ban the Bible itself. As it turns out, book-banning has now become reality.

Here’s a brief recap:

Book-Banning: 2018

The California bill AB 2943 was intended to outlaw “sexual orientation change efforts” (“SOCE;” sometimes referred to by the media and critics as “conversion therapy”) as a form of “consumer fraud.” But the state’s fraud statute applies to the “sale … of goods” (like books) as well as services (like counseling). And SOCE were defined to include efforts to change “behaviors”—not just attractions. So since the Bible is a “good” that is often sold, and since it attempts to change homosexual behavior (“You shall not lie with a male as one lies with a female,” Leviticus 18:22), an argument could be made that Bible sales would fall under the bill’s prohibition.

I pointed out that even if a Bible ban was unlikely (and unlikely to hold up in court), other books—ones whose whole purpose is to promote sexual orientation change—could be much more vulnerable.

Although “fact-checkers” tried to debunk the notion of a Bible ban (or even a book ban), the concerns about religious liberty were serious enough that Assembly sponsor Evan Low withdrew the bill.

Book-Banning: 2019

Fortunately, in 2018 the California legislature stepped back from the brink of banning books for people with unwanted same-sex attractions (SSA).

But now in 2019, the country’s largest bookseller—Amazon.com—has done it for them.

News broke on the eve of Independence Day, when Americans celebrate our freedoms—that we will no longer be free to buy certain books dealing with SOCE or with unwanted SSA on Amazon.

Maybe it was the Brits’ revenge—because some reports made it appear that the change resulted from months of agitation by a lone British activist named Rojo Alan. (A Change.org petition urging their removal may have predated Alan’s campaign, though.)

The Amazon ban on SOCE books is, in some ways, even more insidious than the California one would have been. After all, the state would have had a hard time mustering the resources to enforce its ban on the “sale … of goods” that promote sexual orientation change.

Amazon, on the other hand, is itself a dominant force in the book market. If buyers cannot find these books on Amazon, there is a good chance they will not be able to find them anywhere—which, of course, is the goal of LGBT activists. A state ban would have run up against pesky obstacles like the First Amendment to the Constitution. Amazon, as a private company, faces no such constraint.

As a market leader, however, they have a moral obligation to a value usually promoted by the left—“diversity.” A diversity that makes no room for conservative viewpoints on controversial issues is no diversity at all—it is dictatorship.

Amazon is Reserving the Right to Actually Burn Books

Amazon has not made any explicit comment on the removal of ex-gay therapy books. Their website features a policy on “Offensive and Controversial Materials,” which include:

  • Violence, Intolerance, and Hate
  • Human Tragedies and Disasters
  • Child Abuse and Exploitation

However, the language is vague enough that Amazon has basically reserved the right to ban anything it wants. (“We exercise judgment in allowing or prohibiting listings … Amazon reserves the right to determine the appropriateness of listings on its site, and remove any listing at any time.”).

Some critics of Amazon’s decision have raised the specter not only of book banning, but of book burning. Lest you think this an extreme, purely metaphorical critique, note this part of the Amazon policy: “… [W]e will take corrective actions, as appropriate, including but not limited to …  destroying inventory in our fulfillment centers without reimbursement …” (emphasis added). Rather inexplicably, however, the company also says, “Amazon’s Offensive Products policies apply to all products except books, music, video and DVD” (emphasis added). Perhaps they meant “including?”

Last year, I wrote this:

But shouldn’t every American be shocked at the thought of a state banning the sale of any books based on their philosophical, religious, or moral viewpoint?

Banning books because one doesn’t like their message?

In the United States of America?

In this country, you can sell all kinds of books.

You can sell Mein Kampf, and The Communist Manifesto. Bookstores sell the celebration of sado-masochism of Fifty Shades of Grey, and the celebration of sodomy in Allen Ginsberg’s Howl.

But now, apparently, you cannot (or will not, in the case of Amazon) sell books that are intended to help people with unwanted same-sex attractions achieve their own goals for their lives.

Every American—even those who don’t approve of or support therapies to change sexual orientation—should oppose the kind of blatant censorship that Amazon is exercising.

Critiques of SOCE are Misguided and Ill-Informed

In pulling SOCE books from its website, Amazon is acting as a bully—but also as a coward, succumbing to social and political pressure (from a tiny group of people), rather than standing firm for true diversity of thought.

However, they are also simply acting as fools. While principles of freedom and diversity should be enough to keep books on change therapies available for sale, there is another major reason to do so—the things critics say about such therapies, and books promoting them, are simply false. In fact, I doubt very much that any of the critics of these books have ever even seen—let alone read—any of the books they want banned.

Here are some of the myths about sexual orientation change promoted by critics of SOCE. Since I have written extensively on this topic, let me just provide links to some of the papers documenting the truth about sexual orientation change.

  • Myth No. 1 – “Sexual orientation is immutable.”

Four large data sets reflecting longitudinal analysis of the same individuals over time in population-based samples have shown that significant change in all elements of sexual orientation (attractions, behaviors, and identity) can change. Even lesbian scholar Lisa Diamond has said it is time to “abandon the immutability argument once and for all.”

See: “Evidence Shows Sexual Orientation Can Change: Debunking the Myth of ‘Immutability’” (March 2019)

  • Myth No. 2 – “There is no evidence that SOCE is ever effective.”

Six studies or surveys from 2000 to 2018—five of them in peer-reviewed academic journals—have all shown that SOCE can be effective for some clients in bringing about significant change in some components of sexual orientation, while few harms were reported.

See: “Are Sexual Orientation Change Efforts (SOCE) Effective? Are They Harmful? What the Evidence Shows” (September 2018)

  • Myth No. 3 – “Research has proven that SOCE is harmful.”

The American Psychological Association—although generally critical of SOCE—has admitted that there is no “valid causal evidence” that SOCE is harmful.

See: “The Hidden Truth About Changing Sexual Orientation: Ten Ways Pro-LGBT Sources Undermine the Case for Therapy Bans” (May 2018)

Snapchat and Instagram Are Turning into Kid Portals for Porn (and Much Worse)

by Family Research Council

July 12, 2019

American children are finding it increasingly difficult to escape the explicit snares of social media. That’s why earlier this week the Senate Judiciary Committee held a hearing on “Protecting Innocence in a Digital World.” Social media platforms like Instagram, Snapchat, and YouTube have become a harbor for predators, sex trafficking, and pornography.

Families should remain especially conscious of the risks posed by these kinds of platforms in a time when content remains largely unregulated. App stores’ descriptions of social media platforms rarely match the actual maturity of the content. The repercussions of kids’ easy access to pornographic content are shocking and, in some cases, irreversible.

In the hearing, Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) succinctly acknowledged that “Child exploitation online is becoming an epidemic.” Sen. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) was blunt about the reality of the situation: “Predators no longer lurk in chat rooms. Predators use the apps our kids use.”

Snapchat and Instagram, the two most used social media apps as of 2018, see 190 million and 500 million daily users respectively. The minimum age to download these applications is 12 years old, yet the content on these apps can be alarmingly inappropriate. While app descriptions may warn of “mild infrequent/mild sexual content and nudity, alcohol, drug use, profanity, and suggestive themes,” the content a child might see includes “sextortion, pornography, prostitution and sex trafficking, monetized accounts for sex acts, minimal parental controls, … news articles [also] frequently push: porn, risky sexual behaviors, sexting, drugs and alcohol.”

Even if parents know how to use an app like Instagram, the access to explicit content can be hidden in plain sight: “On Instagram, porn is often hidden behind hashtags and emojis that appear innocuous but are used as secret code to tag and search for particular types of porn.”Though Instagram claims to regulate pornographic material, the content remains readily available. As a result, not only can young people hide their searches with these hashtags, but almost half of them are exposed to explicit online content, and 66 percent of this exposure is unwanted.

The lack of identity verification and content regulation lead to evils even deeper than premature exposure to sexual subjects. Social media apps like Instagram are witnessing a rise in sex trafficking schemes. A recent study from the University of Toledo found that “traffickers connect to vulnerable youth online, groom the children to form quicker relationships, avoid detection, and move the connections from online to in-person.”The study shows that online predators groom children whose posts display “fear, emptiness and disappointment.” They emphasize that parents must protect their children by “monitoring or blocking questionable activity.”

One Michigan father actually saved his daughter from becoming a victim of human trafficking by simply paying close attention to his tween daughter’s social media habits. He recounts, “It began with a picture, a questionably inappropriate one for a girl her age, and the sexy pose set my red flag on fire. So my digging turned into a manhunt checking EVERYTHING in all her accounts.”Portage Police said that the father’s attention to his daughter’s online activity may well have saved the girl from abduction.

Parents must be equipped with the tools to fight the dangers of social media, but they must first recognize the problem. First, as Christians, we must take measures to encourage healthy attitudes towards sex among young people. Our biblical worldview informs us that sex and sexual behavior belong in a marriage between a man and a woman. This ideal is easily challenged and outright denied on social media—not only by groups on the Left, but also by the explicit content so readily available to young users. Secondly, we need to protect our kids from physical harm. Early exposure to explicit content opens the door to pornography addiction and physiologically affects neural learning. Furthermore, social media can easily take dark turns towards the unthinkable for a parent—losing a child to human trafficking.

This is why FRC has partnered with #fixappratings to overcome the challenges that social media can present to the family. We encourage you to join us and learn more about how you can help at fixappratings.com.

How to Talk to Kids about Pornography: 3 Painless Steps

by Kristen Jenson

July 11, 2019

Parents, what conversation is dreaded more than the first one about pornography? I’m not sure there is one! Teaching kids about where babies come from seems simple in comparison. The good news is that it’s not as difficult as you think. I’ve broken it down into three relatively painless steps: start early, empower kids with the basics, and keep on learning and talking!

1. Start Early

How early should you begin warning your child about pornography? The short answer is as soon as they have any access to the internet (or apps that lead to the internet). #SoonerIsSafer! No conscientious parent allows a child access to a busy street without teaching them about the dangers of oncoming cars. It just makes sense to give young kids a gentle warning about harmful content as soon as they are allowed to play on the byways of the internet.

Susan is a very protective mom, and very wise, too. She told me about the time when her 7-year-old son was exposed to pornography by a neighbor. A few days earlier, she had re-read Good Pictures Bad Pictures to her son and reminded him of what to do if he ever saw a bad picture. Although it was distressing, everything worked according to plan! He turned away and went home and told his mom what he had seen. Thankfully, he was prepared!

Children who are caught off guard by pornography are not safe. They are more vulnerable than children who have been warned and given a plan for responding to exposure.

When a parent begins early, it’s not awkward for the child. As the adult, you create the context. Parents continue to tell me that their kids take it well, and that broaching the topic creates an even stronger, more trusting bond with their child.

Don’t be scared—be prepared!

2. Empower Kids with Three Basics

Children need to know three things about pornography:

  • What it is—they need an appropriate definition of pornography.
  • Why it’s harmful—so many kids grow up without a clue that pornography can hurt their young minds—they need good information!
  • How to reject it—a simple plan so they know exactly what to do when they see pornography.

An age-appropriate definition of pornography for a young child gives them just enough information so they can recognize it. In my Good Pictures Bad Pictures series of read-aloud books, I use the following simple definition. “Pornography means pictures, videos or even cartoons of people with little or no clothes on…that focus on the private parts of the body we keep covered with a swimsuit.”

Some critics argue that pornography should not be equated with nudity or else it will cause “body shame.” I take great pains to assure kids that “every part of your body is good, including your private parts. But taking pictures of them and sharing them with others is not good.” Kids are very literal, and nuance is lost on them. Just teach them to come and tell you if they see nudity or near nudity and you can enlighten them if they need additional understanding. For simple tips on how to explain the difference between porn and art to a child, read this blog post.

Explain why it’s harmful. For young children, I use the “picture poison” analogy in my Good Pictures Bad Pictures Jr. book. You’ve already taught them about poison and harmful substances. Pictures can poison the mind, too. Again, reassurance is critical: “There’s something good you can do if you see a bad picture.”

Older children can learn how pornography can become a bad habit or even an addiction. Once kids understand the process of addiction, they have a real opportunity to protect their own brains. Good Pictures Bad Pictures: Porn-Proofing Today’s Young Kids describes how the “thinking brain” and the “feeling brain” can work together to stay safe from addiction. This article from my website ProtectYoungMinds.org contains a simplified explanation of how addictions develop.

3. Give Kids a Plan

It’s common wisdom to teach kids to respond to a fire or active shooter. They need the same “fire drill” for pornography. Thankfully, most children won’t deal with a fire or a shooter, but all of them will need to escape from pornography.

The “escape” plan from Good Pictures Bad Pictures Jr. is simply “Turn, Run and Tell!” Turn away from the bad picture, hurry and get away, and go tell a trusted adult what you saw. The CAN DO Plan from Good Pictures Bad Pictures helps kids not only turn away from it, but to label it by saying “That’s pornography!” This allows kids to have more control over their thoughts by engaging their thinking brain.

Make sure your kids know who they can talk to about pornography exposure wherever they are. Talk to their teachers at school and find out what their plan is for students reporting pornography exposure.  

Finally, help your kids to know how to minimize or “forget” any shocking images they are exposed to by learning to redirect their thoughts to something they get excited about. For example, if they love horses, have them think about saddling up and galloping away! And encourage them to keep practicing—it takes several times, but every time a bad image pops up, just keep thinking about something else. Pretty soon, that memory will begin to fade.

No Child Deserves to Face the Porn Industry Alone

Kids who interface with screens need to know what pornography is, why it’s harmful and what to do when they see it. And they also need constant mentoring. Some families use #TalkTechTuesdays to address all kinds of digital age issues. Whatever day you choose, make sure you keep talking with your kids and listening to their experiences.

I am grateful for caring adults who choose to confront pornography head on so kids won’t have to face it alone. And once you begin the conversation, it gets easier and more comfortable. You CAN DO it.

To get started, check out the free Quick Start Guide for Proactive Parents on ProtectYoungMinds.org.

Kristen A. Jenson, MA is the founder of Protect Young Minds and best-selling author of the Good Pictures Bad Pictures series of read-aloud books. She serves on the Safeguard Alliance founded by the National Center on Sexual Exploitation.

Women Deserve Better (Part 2): How Prostitution and Sex Trafficking Are Inseparably Linked

by Patrina Mosley

July 11, 2019

This is Part 2 of a series on prostitution. Read Part 1, Part 3Part 4, and Part 5.

There is a very thin line between prostitution and sex trafficking. They are hardly distinguishable in operation, but one is more complicated to prove by law.

Let’s define some terms.

Prostitution is the exchange of sexual activity for money or anything of value (drugs, shelter, etc.).

The Justice for Victims of Trafficking Act, which amended the definition of the 2000 Trafficking Victims Protection Act (TVPA), defines sex trafficking as “the recruitment, harboring, transportation, provision, obtaining, patronizing, or soliciting of a person for the purpose of a commercial sex act, in which the commercial sex act is induced by force, fraud, or coercion, or in which the person induced to perform such act has not obtained 18 years of age.”

Under the TVPA, coercion is defined as: “threats of serious harm to or physical restraint against any person; any scheme, plan, or pattern intended to cause a person to believe that failure to perform an act would result in serious harm to or physical restraint against any person; or the abuse or threatened abuse of the legal process.”

Who are the pimps and traffickers? They are the facilitator(s) or person(s) using force, fraud, or coercion for commercial sexual exploitation and collaborators who benefit financially.

According to USLegal.com, “Pimps are people who procures [sic] a prostitute for customers or vice versa, and takes [sic] a portion of the profits from the sexual activities. Supposedly he provides protection for the prostitutes, but quite often he will threaten, brutalize, rape, cheat and induce drug addiction of the prostitutes. A pimp is guilty of the crime of pandering. A pimp is someone who brokers the sexual favors of women for profits.”

Prostitution and sex trafficking operate the same way. There is recruitment, harboring, transportation, provision, obtaining, patronizing, and soliciting of a person for sex. When it comes to proving force, fraud, or coercion, that largely depends on evidence and testimony. What woman will say they are a victim of trafficking when their very lives or family’s lives are threatened or if they have fear of leaving the lifestyle they have become accustomed to?

The Many Sides of Coercion

In one Chicago study, 43 percent of young women who were currently under the control of a pimp/trafficker “said they could not leave without physical harm.” Often, victims see their pimp/trafficker as a boyfriend and there is fear of ending the romantic relationship. It is not unusual for victims to be trafficked by a boyfriend, a male friend, or a family member. Females can also be traffickers and pimps.

In 2016, San Diego County conducted a study about the pimps and traffickers in that county. The study provided keen insight into the common characteristics of those being coerced with these findings:

  • Psychological coercion (defined as “social and emotional isolation, induced emotional exhaustion, and degradation, including humiliation, denial of the victim’s power, and name-calling”) and economic coercion (taking 50 percent or more of prostituted person’s earnings) were primary means sex traffickers employ for controlling victims.
  • Pimps reported an average income of $670,625.
  • Researchers determined that middle schools and high schools were significant/frequent places for recruiting girls who become victims of sexual exploitation, and not just in low-income neighborhoods.

Traffickers and pimps prey on women and children who have a history of abuse and neglect, sexual abuse, running away from home, homelessness, lack of education, or other emotional vulnerabilities. They lure them in with promises of meeting some type of need, whether it be economical, emotional, or both. Pimps/traffickers groom their victims to the point where they have control over them psychologically. Often, this is done by introducing drugs as well, which can cause the victims to become addicted and dependent on the pimp to keep them high and locked into the lucrative sex trade to support their new habit.

In that same Chicago study, 29 percent said they were provided drugs to encourage addiction and 23 percent reported drugs were withheld by the pimp to coerce them into prostitution.

According to a 2013 study of 150 countries, sex trafficking increased in the countries where prostitution was legal.

The idea that sex trafficking is involuntary prostitution and prostitution is willing “sex work” is false. The elements are the same except no one is willing to say an underage girl that she is a working professional prostitute—instead, we shout, “sex trafficking.” If she is 18 and above, is she automatically a willing prostitute? The Archives of Sexual Behavior notes: “In a review of reports on adults in prostitution, 84% were trafficked or under pimp control. The numbers of women who choose prostitution from a position of safety, equality, and genuine alternatives is minimal. O’Connell Davidson (1998, p. 5) noted that only a ‘tiny minority of individuals’ choose prostitution because of the ‘intrinsic qualities of sex work.’ Prostitution has to do with one person’s sexual desires and the other person’s economic needs. The money coerces the performance of sex.”

The operation of prostitution is by default coercion in its transactional nature.

Modern-Day Sex Trafficking and Prostitution

Sex trafficking and prostitution rings are way more advanced and sophisticated today than they were 20 year ago. Today, recruitment and transactions largely take place online through social media accounts, the dark web, and ad listings sites such as Craigslist and Backpage. Before the FBI seizure of Backpage, it was the most popular site for traffickers and pimps to trade off their victims. The average age of recruitment for prostitutes is 14 and the average age of pimps and traffickers are between the ages of 18-34. We have become a generation that are exploiting ourselves.

This May in D.C., as efforts to decriminalize prostitution began to wane, local police made arrests in a major human trafficking case involving teenagers:

Terrell Armstead had an Instagram hashtag “#TeamSupreme” for his prostitution business, according to court documents. He used it to advertise a commercial sex business, posting videos and images of money and luxury goods with the caption “Who wants to join TeamSupreme.”

Detectives allege he would direct message teenage girls, telling them they could make $1,000 a day working in strip clubs and arranging sex dates with customers inside…Among the evidence is a text from one of the young women to Armstead saying, “I only made 200 so far.” He replied, “It’s only 9 I got faith that you’ll get 800 more at least.”

D.C. Councilmember David Grosso, who for the second time introduced the bill to decriminalize prostitution, said:

It is long past time for D.C. to reconsider the framework in which we handle commercial sex, and move from one of criminalization to a new approach that focuses on human rights, health and safety.

As reported:

He was surrounded by several people holding signs. One read, “Everyone Deserves to Feel Safe in Their Work,” while another said, “Sex Workers Matter.”

You cannot combat sex trafficking while trying to legalize prostitution. It makes no sense when the two are essentially the same. And, how in the world does legal prostitution equal human rights? Whose rights? Prostitution is driven by a male clientele who take advantage of other human beings, who are overwhelmingly comprised of women and children who are used for pleasure. To say that prostitution is a human right is by default saying men have a right to use women’s body as a commodity. Why weren’t there signs that said, “Women’s lives matter,” “My body is not a commodity,” or “I’m not for sale, I’m a person”?

Clinical psychologist and founder of Prostitution Research and Education, Dr. Melissa Farley and former prostitute and founder of SPACE International, Rachel Moran came to a clear and disturbing conclusion in their study “Consent, Coercion, and Culpability: Is Prostitution Stigmatized Work or an Exploitive and Violent Practice Rooted in Sex, Race, and Class Inequality?”:

In thousands of interviews, we have heard prostituted women, men, and transwomen describe prostitution as paid rape, voluntary slavery, signing a contract to be raped (in legal prostitution), the choice that is not a choice, and as domestic violence taken to the extreme.

It is ironic, and even cruel, to equate prostitution with “safety” and “human rights.” The sexual exploitation of others is not a right. It is appalling that even in the age of #MeToo, we have politicians who say “its long past time” that we approach paid sex as a human right instead of saying that it is long past time for the exploitation of women to end.

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