The American College of Pediatricians has cautioned "educators about the management of students experiencing same-sex attraction or exhibiting symptoms of gender confusion." An April 5 press release explains.
The College reminds school superintendents that it is not uncommon for adolescents to experience transient confusion about their sexual orientation and that most students will ultimately adopt a heterosexual orientation if not otherwise encouraged. For this reason, schools should not seek to develop policy which “affirms” or encourages these non-heterosexual attractions among students who may merely be experimenting or experiencing temporary sexual confusion. Such premature labeling can lead some adolescents to engage in homosexual behaviors that carry serious physical and mental health risks.
There is no scientific evidence that anyone is born gay or transgendered. Therefore, the College further advises that schools should not teach or imply to students that homosexual attraction is innate, always life-long and unchangeable. Research has shown that therapy to restore heterosexual attraction can be effective for many people.
In their letter to school superindents, the College provides more rationale for their advice.
Dr. Francis Collins, former Director of the Genome Project, has stated that while homosexuality may be genetically influenced, it is “… not hardwired by DNA, and that whatever genes are involved represent predispositions, not predeterminations.” He also states [that] “…the prominent role[s] of individual free will choices [has] a profound effect on us.” 6
The National Association for Research and Therapy of Homosexuality (NARTH) recently released a landmark survey and analysis of 125 years of scientific studies and clinical experience dealing with homosexuality. This report, What Research Shows, draws three major conclusions: (1) individuals with unwanted same sex attraction often can be successfully treated; (2) there is no undue risk to patients from embarking on such therapy and (3), as a group, homosexuals experience significantly higher levels of mental and physical health problems compared to heterosexuals. Among adolescents who claim a “gay” identity, the health risks include higher rates of sexually transmitted infections, alcoholism, substance abuse, anxiety, depression and suicide. Encouragingly, the longer students delay self-labeling as “gay,” the less likely they are to experience these health risks. In fact, for each year an adolescent delays, the risk of suicide alone decreases by 20%.7
In light of these facts, it is clear that when well-intentioned but misinformed school personnel encourage students to “come out as gay” and be “affirmed,” 8 there is a serious risk of erroneously labeling students (who may merely be experiencing transient sexual confusion and/or engaging in sexual experimentation). Premature labeling may then lead some adolescents into harmful homosexual behaviors that they otherwise would not pursue.
You can read the press release here.
For the letter to school superindents go here.
There's also a fact sheet on what we should know about "Sexual Orientation of Youth."