Thursday, October 20, 2016

In case you need a reminder of Breitbart's anti-LGBT bigotry

Generic Cute Gay Couple
Thursday, Breitbart is running with “LGBT Group Threatens Johns Hopkins Over Study on Homosexuality, Transgender.” The piece is authored by “Thomas D. Williams, Ph.D.” Apparently that is, or was, Father Thomas D. Williams and his doctorate is probably in theology. None of that is disclosed at Breitbart and to have a priest writing for the nation's principle organizer of white nationalism is unseemly. Williams goes on to state:
In a remarkable case of agenda politics eclipsing science, America’s largest LGBT group has threatened harm to Johns Hopkins University if it doesn’t censor the scientific findings of leading scholars on the origins of homosexuality and transgenderism.
I think that the punctuation in that sentence is correct. However, this has nothing to do with politics (nor do I know what “agenda politics” is). Paul McHugh and Lawrence Mayer are not leading scholars in human sexuality. McHugh, who used to be a member of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops National Review Board, places religion above science. He has called homosexuality an “erroneous desire.” McHugh graduated from medical school in 1956 when we had little understanding of sexual orientation let alone gender dysphoria. Mayer doesn't seem to be an expert in sexuality. Mayer's field of expertise is statistics and biostatistics and he has never practiced psychiatry.

Disclosure: I have had an hour-long off the record conversation with Dr. Mayer. He is a very smart, affable guy. My opinion before and after our conversation remains the same. This effort was misguided.

The Human Rights Campaign has not asked Johns Hopkins to censor anything. Rather, the request is for the university to publicly distance itself from two people who are improperly benefiting from the institution's prestige. This paper was not peer reviewed. It is a literature review that utilized selective observation to arrive at a preordained result. The description that Williams is looking for would be “gender dysphoria” rather than “tansgenderism.”

Breitbart continues:
In a recent major study titled “Sexuality and Gender: Findings from the Biological, Psychological, and Social Sciences,” researchers from Johns Hopkins found that there is virtually no scientific evidence that people are born gay or transgender.
This was neither major nor a study. Major studies are peer reviewed and published by scholarly journals. This article was not peer reviewed and it is published to what amounts to a pretentious conservative Christian blog. Moreover, a literature review examines studies but is not really a study itself. The authors performed no experiments and conducted no independent analyses. Absent peer review there is no assurance that the methodology meets acceptable scientific standards.
HRC Foundation’s Healthcare Equality Index has begun rating hospitals with a numerical score this year and will evaluate whether hospitals’ practices reflect “responsible citizenship” (read: LGBT-friendly). If Hopkins’ leadership refuses to censor the study, “its Healthcare Equality Index score will be reduced substantially,” the LGBTQ group stated.

To their credit, University officials replied that while they remain committed to supporting the LGBT community they are also committed to academic freedom.
The university has done more than that. In a direct rebuff to McHugh they are about to offer gender affirming surgery again — something that McHugh was directly responsible for halting. I would argue that academic freedom does not require the university to remain silent when a paper is directly at odds with the scientific consensus on sexual orientation and gender identity. Academic freedom only means that McHugh and Mayer should be free to write articles expressing their opinions.

I think that HRC has been successful in altering the conduct of Johns Hopkins. Doing so defines the success of advocacy.
Ever faithful to its agenda, the Human Rights Campaign wants to bully Johns Hopkins into stifling free scientific inquiry when the results run contrary to its deeply held beliefs and desires. It is willing to punish a world-class institution for protecting academic freedom.
Bully? Nonsense. HRC is simply asking the university to stand by scientific truths regarding human sexuality and to help to correct the record. This would not be necessary were it not for the intellectually dishonest writings of McHugh and Mayer. This has nothing to do with stifling anything. HRC is merely seeking balance to an errant article. Andrew would have never allowed the site bearing his name to be an outlet for this drivel. Williams invites this criticism with hyperbole over a review that he likes because it conforms to his religious beliefs. In doing so he takes some liberties with the truth. Apparently there are no proactive editors at Breitbart.

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