On March 9, 1995, the School Board of Fairfax County, Virginia voted to continue the homosexuality component of its sex-ed program (Family Life Education or FLE) with only minor changes after an advisory committee had been given the charge to perform a thorough review. Conservative members of this advisory committee became aware of FRI only weeks before the final vote and so turned to us at only the last hour. However, Dr. Kirk Cameron, FRIs statistical scientist, was urged to speak before the school board on February 23rd. Excerpts of his testimony concerning the proposed curriculum follow below. Please take note: this same curriculum is being touted as a model for sex-ed programs across the country. Perhaps it is being considered in your own district. We cannot stand on the sidelines any longer. We must stand up for what is right.
Testimony Before the Fairfax County School Board on the FLE Curricula for 9th Grade (2/23/95)
After reviewing the proposed FLE curriculum materials and the FLE Curriculum Advisory Committee report, I can state with great confidence and solid scientific evidence that you as a School Board have been conned….
[I]t flies in the face of the available empirical evidence to argue that the best way to prevent suicide attempts among gay youth is for the Fairfax County schools, and the FLE program in particular, to promote discussion and encouragement of homosexuality as a positive lifestyle alternative to heterosexuality. In the words of the FLECAC report, that gay students must have safe places, like school health classes, to receive accurate medical and scientific information… that it may be desirable to provide more information on the subject of homosexuality… that in view of the amount of time spent discussing behaviors from a heterosexual perspective, gay students continue to be shortchanged… The FLECAC report further added that the current curriculum revision does not go far enough in supporting gay adolescents. The committee found that directing teachers to provide a supportive environment which neither endorses nor condemns homosexuality, but provides all students with factual information about homosexuality and other sexual issues can help educate students to be tolerant; [however] this statement as applied withholds from gay students information they need to be healthy, happy, and well-adjusted… that providing some positive role models for gay students may help improve the self-esteem and lower the high suicide rate of the gay adolescent population.
In the 1992 Remafedi study of nearly 35,000 Minnesota adolescents, sexual orientation was not fixed at an early age (1). In fact, about a quarter of the 12 yr-olds were unsure of their orientation, a percentage that steadily declined to about 5% of 18 yr-olds. Likewise, the percentage with predominantly homosexual attractions steadily increased between these ages, giving lie to the notion that sexual feelings are somehow fixed early-on. Furthermore, as Remafedi notes The observed relationship between sexuality and religiosity, ethnicity, and socioeconomic status provided further evidence of social influences on perceived sexual identity. For example, The reporting of homosexual attractions among boys and girls rose steadily with socioeconomic status, reflecting parental education level and, perhaps, tolerance for sexual diversity. That is, the greater the level of education and tolerance, the more these students expressed explicit homosexual attractions.
If homosexual orientation is inevitable and not influenced by social or learning factors (contrary to Remafedis results), then more education and tolerance and less discrimination against homosexuality ought to simply provide a more comfortable environment for gay students to express themselves. But the available data suggest just the opposite.
The real kicker is Remafedis 1991 study of 137 gay and bisexual male adolescents (2), the largest of its kind. Thirty percent of the subjects had attempted suicide, many had tried on multiple occasions. But rather than being attributable to hostile classroom environments, Remafedi found that suicide attempts were not explained by experiences with discrimination, violence, loss of friendship [after coming out], or current personal attitudes toward homosexuality.
What did differentiate those who attempted versus those who had not attempted suicide? However, gender nonconformity and precocious psychosexual development were predictive of self-harm…. For each years delay in bisexual or homosexual self-labeling, the odds of a suicide attempt diminished by 80%. These findings support a previously observed, inverse relationship between psychosocial problems and the age of acquiring a homosexual identity. In other words, the most important risk factors for suicide in gay youth were getting into sex early-on, adopting feminine characteristics and mannerisms, and most significantly, adopting a homosexual orientation earlier in adolescence.
Can we afford to continue this grand social experiment on our students, hoping that orientation is basically fixed early-on so that the promotion of gay-friendly curricula and positive role models will result only in the development of healthy, happy, and well-adjusted gay students, hoping against hope that if only the dust of discrimination would just settle, homosexuality could take its place alongside heterosexuality as a healthy, normal alternative lifestyle?
The fact is that orientation is not only impacted significantly by type of early sexual experience and family dysfunction but is often not established until adulthood is near, that the promotion of homosexuality in schools may be nudging a percentage of sexually confused youth into that lifestyle, heightening greatly their risk of attempted suicide [As Remafedi notes in yet another study (3), The very experience of acquiring a homosexual or bisexual identity at an early age places the individual at risk for dysfunction. This conclusion is strongly supported by the data.].
The gay lifestyle is a lonely and isolated one, but not primarily because of discrimination and intolerance. Even in San Francisco, easily the most gay-friendly city of this country, the gay life is not a happy one. Rather, it is a lifestyle of either shallow or short-lived relationships; brief, noncommittal and often violent sexual encounters; sexually transmitted disease; normative promiscuity, and gay vs. gay violence. In the final analysis, the gay life is a short life. Our study of over 7,000 gay and lesbian obituaries, published last year in Omega (4), indicates clearly that gay males are dying on average at age 42 in this country, over 30 years sooner than average married heterosexual males. The same holds for lesbians, who are dying on average at age 44.
How can we discriminate against smokers because of the medical risks and not do the same for homosexuality? The last thing we need to do is to encourage a lifestyle that is so self-destructive and dangerous to its participants. I urge you to reject the proposed FLE curriculum.
1. Remafedi, G., Resnick, M., Blum, R., & Harris, L. Demography of sexual orientation in adolescents. Pediatrics, 89(4), 1992, pp. 714-21.
2. Remafedi, G., Farrow, J.A., & Deisher, R.W. Risk factors for attempted suicide in gay and bisexual youth. Pediatrics, 87(6), 1991, pp. 869-75.
3. Remafedi, G. Adolescent homosexuality: psychosocial and medical implications. Pediatrics, 79(3), 1987, pp. 331-37.
4. Cameron, P., Playfair, W.L., & Wellum, S. The longevity of homosexuals: before and after the AIDS epidemic. Omega Journal of Death and Dying, 29(3), 1994, pp. 249-72.