Sex Ed

May 17, 2005 | 140 comments
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For me one of the enduring frustrations and perplexities of parenting children in public schools is the need to monitor sex education curricula. If you think that schools don’t need monitoring, you aren’t paying attention. But monitoring is costly, especially when you have multiple children at different levels in the system.

The main cost associated with monitoring is time. I appreciate the fact that schools ask permission for my children to attend the classes and offer the opportunity to review materials. Nevertheless, curriculum review in this area is not one-and-done. In Oregon one of the big battles in our school district was over the age appropriateness of the curricula, and for families with multiple children, that means multiple review opportunities. Also, sex education curricula are in a constant state of development. Whether for political reasons or other reasons, parents cannot count on last year’s review to cover this year’s curriculum.

Things get really interesting if you object to some of the content of the curriculum. The usual remedy is to withdraw your child from the class, but this option comes with some significant costs. Most visibly, children do not appreciate that moment when they are “excused” from class so that other children can receive instruction. In addition, the children who are withdrawn from class often are required to engage in some alternative activity as a substitute. Inevitably, the alternative activity is more work than sitting passively in the classroom. Finally, the children who are excused are marginalized in all subsequent discussions of the class by their classmates, and unless you have completely forgotten what it is like to be a child, I think you would agree that this is a real cost.

Against all of these costs and potential costs, I attempt to weigh the possible benefits. The stated purposes of sex education are the following: (1) reduce the incidence of sexually transmitted diseases; (2) reduce unwanted or unplanned pregnancies; and (3) enhance the quality of sexual relationships. Although talking about sex with my children would not make the list of “Top 10 Reasons Gordon is a Great Father,” I suspect that our family could do pretty well on all three of these issues without the assistance of the schools. (Note that we could substitute home instruction for all of the services currently provided by the schools, and in fact, we homeschooled each of our children through second grade, but I am not trying to turn this into a discussion of homeschooling.) Even if my family could be self-sufficient on sex education, however, I am open to having more instruction for my children on anatomy, sexually transmitted diseases, pregnancy, etc. The problems arise when the discussion turns to values.

For example, in the controversy in Montgomery County, Maryland linked above, the materials included the following:

Myth: Homosexuality is a sin.

Facts: Religion has often been misused to justify hatred and oppression. Less than a half a century ago, Baptist churches (among others) in this country defended racial segregation on the basis that it was condoned by the Bible. Early Christians were not hostile to homosexuals.

This story is newsworthy precisely because most curricula do not contain such flagrant attacks on religion, but many people feel that their religious beliefs are undermined by less direct content. Our experience in various states has been mixed, and tends to vary quite dramatically with the prevailing attitudes of the local community. Although local variation appeals to me, we often find ourselves in the minority on this subject.

We recently went through the dreaded “8th-grade curriculum,” which is the one around here that causes the most consternation. After much discussion, we ultimately allowed our son to attend the class, partly because he didn’t want to write the paper that was assigned as a substitute project. I would be interested in learning how other parents approach these decisions.

Two other miscellaneous points in conclusion:

1. One of the interesting aspects about sex education is the reference to “rights” language. For example, this site asserts, “Youth have rights to accurate, balanced sex education.”

2. Eugene Volokh posted today on a Massachusetts case involving a claim of “Negligent Sex.” Note that the description of the facts may not appeal to everyone, but Eugene broaches the topic of sex ed:

Still, the prospect of litigation involving experts on how reasonable people have sex (sexologists? prostitutes?), debates about how sexually expert we should expect the reasonable person to be (especially in the throes of passion), attempts to reconstruct exactly who moved how and why, and jury verdicts about how the Reasonable Sexual Partner would have had Reasonable Sex boggle the mind. And, hey, if we impose legal duties on people, shouldn’t sex ed class teach students how to properly discharge their duties?

If you are interested in more commentary, see Christine’s post at Conglomerate.

140 Responses to Sex Ed

  1. Christine Hurt on May 17, 2005 at 12:03 pm

    I guess I’m very paternal about sex ed. I don’t think my kids need it because I am comfortable talking to them about it, but I recognize that many parents aren’t. So, I’m afraid of having every teenager in America running around with myths and misinformation in their heads, causing unwanted pregnancies and spreading diseases. (Of course, my 23-year-old 5th grade teacher told us that oral sex caused pregnancy, and I believed that for a long time.) So, why can’t sex ed be taught from a simple “public health” standpoint and not embraced as an opportunity to have everyone feel good about their sexuality? I’m not against everyone feeling good about themselves, but I think that when sex ed tries to serve that goal, that is when problems arise.

    Gordon’s post reminds me though of “Mormonism week” in 8th grade American History (Lubbock, Texas). Being a member of the RLDS church, I was horrified with the information that was being given that I felt was biased or just flat out wrong. When I complained, I was told that I could sit in the hall during that class for the rest of the week.

  2. john fowles on May 17, 2005 at 12:14 pm

    Ah yes, Mormonism week in 8th grade American history class (Richardson TX), with some Baptist know-it-all barely college graduate teaching a captive audience of kids that Mormons are “damn stupid” because they think an angel gave a gold bible to a boy and that old Joe Smith started a religion just so he could have sex with many wives. (Only to go to sex ed the next period to learn from some liberal know-it-all barely college graduate teaching a captive audience of kids that having sex early and often is no problem as long as you are protected, in fact it is healthy, as are myriad sexual deviations, as long as they are consensual, and anybody who says otherwise is a deluded religious fundamentalist.)

  3. HL Rogers on May 17, 2005 at 12:25 pm

    I feel like I really missed out not gowing up in Texas.

    Texas has always seemed to me a great example of why it is a good idea to keep religious education out of public schools.

  4. Kaimi on May 17, 2005 at 12:37 pm

    Ahh, the memories, Christine. I went to elementary school in Lawton, Oklahoma (just a few hours out of Lubbock), and we touched on Mormonism in history in fifth grade (sixth, maybe). Despite a teacher who tried her best to be fair to me, there were a lot of kids with really strange ideas about Mormons. People seemed to be particularly interested in (and misguided about) food facts. Mormons can’t eat pepper . . . no, they can’t drink milk . . . no, they have to eat wheat every day, that’s why they store it . . . and my favorite, “Mormons believe you can’t get to heaven unless you have wheat. The more wheat you have, the higher you go in heaven.”

  5. Jonathan Green on May 17, 2005 at 12:43 pm

    I’ve already had to explain to my first-grader that the teacher’s answer on a couple of math questions was wrong. I plan to say much the same thing in advance of sex ed classes, which on the whole, I think, are good things. We’ve answered our children’s questions honestly and completely, but I’d really prefer for the high school sex-ed teacher to handle the demonstration of how a condom works.

  6. Russell Arben Fox on May 17, 2005 at 12:46 pm

    “Mormons believe you can’t get to heaven unless you have wheat. The more wheat you have, the higher you go in heaven.”

    But that’s what Reed Benson taught my wife’s Book of Mormon class at BYU. (Quote: “The whiter the bread, the sooner you’re dead.”) You mean it’s a myth? Her testimony will shatter.

  7. Shawn Bailey on May 17, 2005 at 12:47 pm

    This one does hit a little close to home since we recently bought one (a home) in the People’s Republic of Montgomery County. The quality of the public schools as compared to those in other parts of the DC area was a factor (one of many) that led us here. Along with the high average test scores apparently comes the requirement of (perhaps greater than usual?) perpepual vigilance.

    The anti-religious bigotry contained in the curriculum (now subject to a TRO and probably months or years of litigation) is alarming. I believe that religious liberty–meaningful tolerance and even accommodation of a variety of religious beliefs and practices–is one of the great achievements of the Western world. Thus, it is disappointing to read (in the Wash.Post article cited in the blog to which Gordon linked) proponents of the curriculum dismissing opponents as rediculously stupid religious fundamentalists.

    How strange–what an odd inconsistency–to attack religion in a way that clearly violates the Constitution (in addition to being both inaccurate and logically flawed (see the Volokh Conspiracy post on the issue)) in the name of the supposed liberty or equality of another group. To me it looks like the work of liberals who only believe in civil and human rights for those who agree with them.

  8. Last Lemming on May 17, 2005 at 12:49 pm

    Just for the record, the Montgomery County curriculum quoted above was never introduced. It was found unacceptable by a court last week, primarily because of its incursion into the religious realm. Its writers are apparently willing to comply with the court’s decision without further fight, but who knows what they will come up with to replace it. Also, that was’t the only controversial part of the curriculum, just the unconstitutional part.

  9. Gordon Smith on May 17, 2005 at 12:53 pm

    Christine: “So, why can’t sex ed be taught from a simple ‘public health’ standpoint and not embraced as an opportunity to have everyone feel good about their sexuality?”

    I have pondered this a bit, and I think it is a useful way to think about the classes, even if it will not eliminate the conflicts over content.

  10. Julie in Austin on May 17, 2005 at 1:00 pm

    Gordon re Christine’s ““So, why can’t sex ed be taught from a simple ‘public health’ standpoint and not embraced as an opportunity to have everyone feel good about their sexuality?””

    I think the problem is that there is a significant number of people who think that the self-image (not to mention physical safety from abuse) of homosexuals is an important part of public health.

    One data point: during the Prop 22 furor in CA, I was a seminary teacher in a very liberal college town. I was concerned that our youth would be ostracized, etc., as the Church was getting a lot of bad press. It turns out the even in that setting, homophobia was rampant at the high school, and inasmuch as our LDS youth weren’t actively joking about commiting hate crimes, they were perceived as some of the more ‘liberal’ students on this issue, despite their opposition to Prop 22.

    My point is simply that you have to remember the context, and the context in most American high schools is hideous homophobia that erupts in taunts if not physical abuse. In that context, encouraging compassion for homosexuals (or kids other kids are labelling as homosexuals) is certainly appropriate.

    This is NOT in any way to justify this Maryland curriculum, this is just to point out that it is a very misguided attempt to solve a very real problem. How to root out homophobia among high school students without condoning homosexuality in a way unacceptable to religious families is a fine line, and I have no idea how to do it.

  11. Scott on May 17, 2005 at 1:05 pm

    Ah, Reed Benson. My wife too had that Book of Mormon class and heard the same quote. Too bad her father had celiac disease and couldn’t eat wheat.

  12. Julie in Austin on May 17, 2005 at 1:14 pm

    Someone is going to have to help me deconstruct that Reed Benson quote, because I read it and thought he was a whole-grain advocate.

  13. Shawn Bailey on May 17, 2005 at 1:28 pm

    Julie (no. 10):
    The “homophobia” problem is complex. It seems that that term can be used in a variety of ways—it is often used as a shaming blugeon against anyone who opposes gay political agendas. If used in this sense, attempts to oppose “homophobia” will inevitably take stands in the ongoing culture wars that will likely violate the speech and/or religion elements of the First Amendment.

    I suppose the term could also mean violence and threats of violence motivated by irrational fear or hatred: things with much more direct public health implications. Aren’t rules, disciplinary procedures, and instruction narrowly targetted at preventing violence and threats of violence sufficient? What about instruction that limits itself to teaching students the virtue of respecting even those with whom they disagree in fundamental ways? In contrast to such a system, the Montgomery County curriculum seems to actually attempt to do away with fundamental disagreements themselves. Horribly misguided in my opinion.

  14. danithew on May 17, 2005 at 1:51 pm

    I never had a class from Reed Benson, though I heard the students in his classes were required to memorize many verses of scripture. I mentioned that to my mother, who I guess went to college at the same time as him. I was trying to figure out whether I should want to attend a class that is taught by the son of a prophet. She’s a fairly conservative person but she still muttered something under her breath about “John Birchers …” I took that as a negative.

    I say that so that I can simply add that my wife and I read a South Beach diet book that said it was healthier to eat icecream than white bread. I think the writer repeated himself … something to the effect of: “I’m serious, if you can choose between icecream or white bread, the icecream is healthier.” Of course that is the anti-carb diet … maybe they’d tell us to eat anything first before bread.

    Just to try and reroute this threadjack back onto the track … I don’t remember too much about the actual sex ed classes that I had in high school … except that a girl sitting in the front row was pregnant and happy about it. That just seemed a bit odd … the happy part I mean.

    I wish our society was more parent-focused. I’m not against public education but I wish parents could be trusted more than the schools to teach their kids the proper lessons about sex. What we get is a hodge-podge of information that often depends on the personality and training of the high school teacher(s) … I agree with Gordon that parents these days should play strict attention to what is being taught in the curriculum and be aware also of the social dynamics children have to face in the schools. Thinking about this makes me suddenly think that home school is a very appealing possibility. :)

  15. HL Rogers on May 17, 2005 at 2:22 pm

    When I went through sex ed in 5th grade my parents sat me down and had me watch an old film strip on sex and morality that Pres. Paker had done. I don’t remember anything from the film (except for Pres. Packer’s testimony at the end). I do remember that I went to sex ed the next day and felt very comfortable in dismissing certain things I was taught (for example that masturbation was ok and healthy and we should all give it a go). Pres. Packer’s talk seemed to contextualize the experience for me. I had no problem (at least from a fifth grader’s perspective) in accepting certain things I was taught while dismissing other things. Anyway, I felt it was a good approach.

  16. Elisabeth on May 17, 2005 at 2:31 pm

    In case anyone is interested, here is a link to a story of a father in Massachusetts who was arrested and jailed last month for trespassing on school grounds after he protested a book his 5 year old son brought home from kindergarten on gay marriage.

    Massachusetts is an interesting place to live in these days….

    http://www.boston.com/news/local/massachusetts/articles/2005/04/29/arrested_father_had_point_to_make/

  17. lyle stamps on May 17, 2005 at 2:37 pm

    HL: Probably no surprise to you then that some of the school prayer cases, brought by LDS plaintiffs, were in Texas?

  18. Mark B. on May 17, 2005 at 2:51 pm

    Having been appropriately forewarned, I never had a class from Reed Benson either. During the late 60’s or early 70’s he was the head of the Utah chapter of the John Birch Society. That was enough for me. I would have taken a Book of Mormon class from Spencer L. Kimball before I took one from Reed Benson.

    My children’s experience confirms Julie’s comments about rampant homophobia in high schools, even in a place as supposedly liberal on matters of gay rights as New York City. I hadn’t heard anybody called a “homo” since high school (in Provo, Utah, over 30 years ago) until I heard high school students here calling each other homos. And, “gay” has become a general term of disapproval–on matters having nothing to do with sex. As one boy explained to me, it wasn’t a disparagement of homosexuals because it just meant that the thing he described as “gay” was undesirable–it didn’t mean that somehow that thing was homosexual.

    Perhaps there should be less teaching about sex, and more about reasoning and logic.

    All that said, there is as Julie says a difficult-to-find line between teaching decency towards those who do things that are wrong.

  19. lyle stamps on May 17, 2005 at 3:27 pm

    Wow. How did we get from Sex Ed to a Reed Benson bashing party? Did I miss something? Maybe my parents pulled me out of the wrong class at the right time?

    Frankly, I’m saddened to hear folks talk about staying away from a man whose worst crime, it appears, was to make students memorize and to speculate about wonder v. non-wonder bread. I never had his class, but spoke with him regularly. He is probably the single most polite, warm and enuthusiastic professor I ever met at BYU (ok, with the exception of 2 guys who don’t teach at BYU anymore).

  20. Julie in Austin on May 17, 2005 at 3:48 pm

    Shawn Bailey–

    II totally agree with you that homophobia is ‘overdiagnosed’ as it were. What I am talking about and defining as homophobia is that pervasive ‘you f*&’ or ‘I hate f*&s’ as part of the high school culture, similar to what Mark B. mentions.

    You are right that school policy always prohibits this kind of thing. But I can tell you as a former teacher that we cannot expect teachers to hear every comment tossed out in the hallways between classes and it is reasonable to try to address students’ underlying attitudes.

    danithew–

    South Beach is not anti-carb. It is anti-non-whole-grain-carb. I’m partial to South Beach. His point about the ice cream is that the fat would at least provide some satiety that white bread wouldn’t and is therefore a better choice, although I agree that he is a little overdramatic about this.

    I did really like your final paragraph, however.

  21. danithew on May 17, 2005 at 3:58 pm

    I don’t know Reed Benson at all … and I’m willing to take Lyle’s word for it that he’s a very nice and decent guy. I concede that I wasn’t sure if I was interested in taking religion credits where so much memorization was required. It seemed like a lot of work for credits that were more for my personal edification than for my resume. I had the utmost respect for President Benson and that was the whole reason I even considered taking the class. The John Birch Society has a reptuation for being extremely right-wing in its perspectives — so in my mind that little tidbit of information had a negative influence.

    I think too that there is a little bit of murmuring out there about the children of general authorities getting jobs as religion teachers at BYU. Perhaps to some it seems a little bit too convenient. I’m sure that isn’t always fair. Maybe it isn’t fair at all. It isn’t something I’ve studied all that closely. I know that I appreciated President Hinckley’s semi-humorous yet largely serious disclaimer in the last general conference, regarding the calling of his son as a Seventy:

    Among those sustained, as you have noted, is my 63-year-old son. I make it clear that I did not advance his name. That was done by others whose right it was to do so. I feel extremely sensitive about the matter of nepotism. As the lawyers say, I recused myself from participating. However, I believe he is worthy and qualified in every respect. In the first place, he had a great and wonderful mother. I wish I could recommend his father. I mention this only because of my sensitivity concerning the matter of nepotism. Please do not hold it against him for his relationship to me. He’s powerless to help it.

  22. Jordan on May 17, 2005 at 4:11 pm

    Gordon, that is scary and sobering, as is the Massachussetts article. Thanks for bringing this up.

  23. Kristine on May 17, 2005 at 4:11 pm

    Elisabeth, just to be really clear for people who don’t read the whole article–the book the father protested was not “about” gay marriage, it merely depicted a gay couple with a child among other families. He may have had a point, but he chose a particularly asinine way to make it.

  24. Steve Evans on May 17, 2005 at 4:14 pm

    I would just like everyone to know how utterly, utterly tempted I am to totally threadjack here with tales of my awkward Sex Ed experiences. Perhaps a BCC post will be forthcoming, where all can share their pimply-faced horror stories.

  25. danithew on May 17, 2005 at 4:19 pm

    Steve, that sounds like a good post. I’m sure there will be some funny tales and maybe Aaron B. can even work in a humorous personal missionary experience that is remotely applicable.

    Plus, I’m looking forward to Kaimi calling you a poacher. :)

  26. Jordan on May 17, 2005 at 4:19 pm

    Kristine,

    d’accord. There are better ways of making a point.

  27. Kaimi on May 17, 2005 at 4:20 pm

    Steve,

    You ought to stop beating yourself up over the banana incident. It was years in the past, and I’m sure that no one remembers it anymore.

    And how were you supposed to know better, anyway? It’s not like anyone warned you. And you had a perfectly good excuse, since you had missed lunch.

    But no — make a simple, reasonable assumption about comestibles in a class, and next thing you know, you’re stigmatized for the rest of your high school career.

  28. Mark B. on May 17, 2005 at 4:22 pm

    No, lyle stamps, it wasn’t Reed Benson on Wonder Bread or memorization. It was his politics.

    I’m just sorry nobody else here encountered Spencer L., since it appears I went to the trouble of bringing him up for naught.

  29. Elisabeth on May 17, 2005 at 4:28 pm

    Thanks for the corrections about the article, and please let it be known that I do not support this man harassing teachers and breaking the law to get attention to make his point. I was just observing that, with all due respect for our great Commonwealth, Massachusetts seems to have more than its fair share of crazies these days.

  30. The Wiz on May 17, 2005 at 4:33 pm

    My BIL is currently fighting a sex-ed battle in Maine, and a different SIL has taken upthe cause in Maryland as well.

    The one in Maine is mostly fighting about the age at which sex-ed is taught (the American Academy of Pediatrics does not recommend it before age 10), and the explicit nature of the video that is shown to these fourth graders (some of whom are still eight years old). They are having a horrible time with the school board, and yes, some people think they are religious fanatics.

    The SIL in MD is dealing with the homosexuality issue. She has joined the fight to make it clear that the homosexual lifestyle is far more dangerous healthwise than a heterosexualy lifestyle. The children there are being given bogus statistics so as not to offend the gay community. She is just saying “If you’re going to teach about homosexuality, that’s fine, just teach it accurately. Homosexuals are far more likely (statistically) to contract AIDS and other STD’s. Take morals out of it.”

  31. lyle stamps on May 17, 2005 at 4:38 pm

    Mark: So, re: reasoning and logic. You are making a claim that you avoiding taking a religion class because you disagreed with the Professor’s politics? I won’t try to create a logical link between the two, but feel free to flesh it out. If it holds, if only conservative students had that option on most college campus’ in America.

  32. danithew on May 17, 2005 at 4:42 pm

    LOL. Touche Lyle. Maybe Bro. Reed Benson’s personal politics as a university faculty member somehow makes up for the dearth of conservative faculty at other universities. The proper balance between chaos and order has been preserved. I’m joking a bit, but I do think that is a serious problem.

  33. Eric S on May 17, 2005 at 4:54 pm

    From Volokh:

    “And, hey, if we impose legal duties on people, shouldn’t sex ed class teach students how to properly discharge their duties?”

    I would suggest a viewing of Monty Python’s The Meaning of Life, in which John Cleese does just that–and, of course, hilarity ensues.

  34. JrL on May 17, 2005 at 5:36 pm

    I enjoyed the “Mormonism week” comments in Nos. 1, 2, and 4. Here in Missouri, when my oldest son hit that week in his AP US history class, the teacher looked at him and the 2 other LDS kids in the class and said, “You tell us….” My daughter’s experience in a non-AP version of the class wasn’t quite as open-ended, but still deferential tp the Church view. I attribute much of that to good LDS students who blazed the trail before them.

  35. Mark B. on May 17, 2005 at 5:37 pm

    Lyle,

    If you don’t think that a person’s wacko politics will affect his teaching of a religion class, then you’ve been skipping Sunday School for too long. Maybe Reed Benson was apolitical in his religion classes, but I didn’t want to bother taking the chance.

    Besides, if conservatism means John Birch-ism, then extremism in defense of liberty really is no vice.

    There were enough choices in the BYU religion department that I was able to avoid the nuts. If students at other schools cannot avoid the nuts, does that mean that I should choose a professor that I think is nuts, so that I can feel some sort of solidarity with the oppressed conservatives at liberal arts colleges?

    And, put your epee away, danithew. There was no touche.

  36. Jordan on May 17, 2005 at 5:38 pm

    One reason to actually be glad about the current ueber-PC culture is that “mormonism week” is much more deferential to minimize offense.

  37. lyle stamps on May 17, 2005 at 5:46 pm

    Mark: We aren’t counting points here. However, as a person once banned for being too “blunt” in my criticism about another individual on this site…you might want to consider whom you call nuts. Granted, not many here are likely to take offense because you insult the institution of BYU and its Board of Trustees (all 15 of them) by calling one of its professors “nuts,” [which you do, IMO] but it is a personal insult that has no place; whether because it is no better than poisoning the well (to use logic which you seem fond of) or just because it is rude without reason.

  38. danithew on May 17, 2005 at 5:57 pm

    Relax Mark. I think Lyle had a nugget of truth in the comment I was responding to. If you disagree that’s your own business.

  39. Mark B. on May 17, 2005 at 6:07 pm

    I suspect that even some of the Board of Trustees think that some of the professors down at BYU are nuts.

    Perhaps they weren’t nuts when they were hired, or their nuttiness wasn’t apparent. I don’t think that being hired at (or fired from) BYU is conclusive evidence that someone is nutty, and I would hate to think that any criticism of a faculty member, or his politics, or his academic work, is somehow a criticism of the Board of Trustees.

    And, if you don’t think the John Birch Society is nutty, that’s fine. But I do.

  40. lyle stamps on May 17, 2005 at 6:23 pm

    Gordon: To return to the topic at hand…

    Is there a way to take the offensive? I.e. somehow educate your kids in the home to the point where they have both good scientific evidence & gospel truths; which they can then use to “educate” their peers during classroom discusions rather than playing defense and worrying what the schools will teach them?

    Julie/Kristine: Perhaps so-called homophobia is simply a natural and appropriate reaction from kids who are unwilling to be “forced” into accepting homosexuality as a “being” issue rather than a “choice” issue? Makes sense to me that teenagers, esp. boys, would “fight” against any teaching that told them that some folks were just “born” gay and there was nothing they could do/choose about it. If so, the intolerance of “gays” is really just intolerance of folks trying to take away their innate conception of moral agency. Frankly, the whole biology/born that way argument seems like a psuedo-scientific effort to be “compassionate” by not making gay folks take accountability for their choices and providing them with a convenient biological escape hatch to blame. Yes, we should be compassionate and loving to all folks; maybe even moreso that have been discriminated against. I don’t think that means we need the state to indoctrinate kids with the ‘scientific’ fact that homosexuality is just fine. If we don’t want the government in the ‘bedroom'; then they shouldn’t be in the ‘bedroom’ education business either.

  41. Jeff Lindsay on May 17, 2005 at 6:41 pm

    Great vigilance is needed when it comes to sex ed. The purpose of the programs in our schools is not to teach biological facts – that would take just a few minutes – but to influence the behavior and morals of the kids, which takes much more time (repeated emphasis for multiple days every year- unlike photosynthesis or the US Constitution, which get passing mention once or twice).

    I also agree that homophobia is over-diagnosed. According to the gay-lesbian diversity pages on my company’s Intranet site, you are homophobic if you would not be comfortable with a gay male babysitting your kids or if you think homosexuality is morally wrong. I’ve got that mental illness, I’m afraid. Given the higher potential for child abuse, many of us parents are uncomfortable with any male as a babysitter, gay or not. I find it incredibly intolerant that these diversity folks can’t accept a parent being protective of their children and not wanting a babysitter who might be sexually attracted to them.

    How odd that those who don’t actively condone homosexual activity are said to have a mental illness, when the psychiatric community had classified it as a mental disorder until 1973 for what appear to be political reasons, not on the basis of any new research. That pre-1973 classification may have been too harsh or incorrect, but it’s outrageous to classify those who object to homosexual behavior as now having a mental illness.

  42. Jordan on May 17, 2005 at 6:45 pm

    How odd that those who don’t actively condone homosexual activity are said to have a mental illness

    Talk about calling evil good and good evil, putting darkness for light, and light for darkness, putting bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter…

  43. Paul on May 17, 2005 at 6:47 pm

    The rub about going to school in Texas, however, is that you generally don’t run into the sex ed issue. Most bible-belters want sex ed out of schools or toned down if in schools. I can take the religious persecution; I think it toughens my kids. The sexual misinformation however is perilous.

  44. Julie in Austin on May 17, 2005 at 6:47 pm

    lyle–

    Since the Brethren have repeatedly spoken out against the kind of homophobia that results in hate crimes, I am surprised at your position. Rethink.

  45. Jeff Lindsay on May 17, 2005 at 6:48 pm

    “Myth: Homosexuality is a sin.”

    Good grief, the public schools in Maryland were teaching a particular religious view. Whether something is a sin or not is a matter of belief pertaining to the views of Deity regarding human behavior. How dare a school tell people what things are or are not sins? Isn’t this an explicit violation of the principles that liberals hold so dear?

    Separation of church and state – why doesn’t it apply here?

  46. annegb on May 17, 2005 at 6:51 pm

    We are fortunate, I think (and hope), here in Utah that the sex ed reflects our conservative values. However, I never relied on that, I always talked to my kids and kept the door open to any type of question they would have.

    I have noticed that a reluctance on the part of parents to constantly seek feedback and communication with their kids on this topic has led to those kids being ill equipped to handle themselves in tricky situations as teenagers. My daughter had a friend who had questions and when my daughter urged her friend to ask her parents, she said, “oh, no, my parents would be hurt if I asked them.” That’s really sad.

  47. lyle stamps on May 17, 2005 at 7:07 pm

    Julie: I said “so-called” homophobia. See Jeff’s excelent comment #41 above. Also, you don’t address how kids are supposed to (re)act when faced with pressure to accept homosexuality which they innately know is wrong. Further, I don’t remember any endorsement of hate crimes; which are unwarranted and unneeded. It shouldn’t matter what the motivation is; if a crime is comitted…punish it. Enforcement & Education; not indoctrination, is the answer.

  48. Nate Oman on May 17, 2005 at 7:18 pm

    Montgomery County: Yet another reason to live in Virginia rather than Maryland.

  49. diogenes on May 17, 2005 at 7:21 pm

    I find it incredibly intolerant that these diversity folks can’t accept a parent being protective of their children and not wanting a babysitter who might be sexually attracted to them.

    Um — who exactly are you going to allow as a babysitter, then? All the ones I know have some gender and some sexual orientation.

    I confess that I, at least, find your comment to be more than a little bigoted. I have gay colleagues who I would trust my children with long before I would trust anyone in my ward — particularly our former Scoutmaster, who was convicted of molesting his infant daughter, or the former Relief Society counselor, who was engaged in some activities that probably aren’t appropriate to describe on a family blog. Or the Primary teacher whose children were removed by Child Protective Services because of physical abuse, or the Sunday School teacher who strangled his wife during a domestic quarrel, etc., etc. Need I go on?

    The fact that you are willing to categorically exclude gay babysitters suggests to me that your company’s diversity pages are right on the money.

  50. Soyde River on May 17, 2005 at 7:33 pm

    Because I am old enough to remember, I can recall all the controversy about introducing sex ed in the schools. Those educators who were strongly proposing it (with the support of most of the media) pointed out the levels of illegitimate births, of pregnancy, of sexually transmitted diseases, even of abortions, and proposed sex ed as the thing that would solve the problems.

    Guess what? All those indicators have gone up substantially since the introduction of sex ed in the schools.

  51. Greg Call on May 17, 2005 at 7:45 pm

    Soyde River:

    I don’t know when sex ed was introduced around the country, but I think it’s generally agreed upon that teen pregnancy and abortion have declined significantly over the last fifteen years. Here’s a site I found with a quick search: http://www.advocatesforyouth.org/publications/factsheet/FSPRECHD.HTM

  52. HL Rogers on May 17, 2005 at 7:45 pm

    Diogenes (49): what ward are you in!!??!! Because I don’t think prison wards are really a legitimate indicator for the discussion. :)

    Soyde (50): I haven’t looked at the numbers in 4 years but I recall that teen births have actually gone down as has teen pregnancy. Obviously, teen birth numbers are not a good indicator for morality as they could simply indicate higher numbers of abortions. I also recall that the number of women having abortions has dropped in the last ten years, even as the number of abortions has increased (indicating fewer women having more abortions).

  53. Carrie on May 17, 2005 at 7:47 pm

    The Wiz,
    You might want to point out to your SIL that, while the risk of contracting an STD is higher for male homosexual behavior than for heterosexual, it is lower for female homosexual behavior. I worry about differentiating between risk levels in this way though, because kids are likely to believe that one kind of sex being “safer” than another makes it “safe.”

    Gordon,
    When I was in 8th grade back in 1993–wow I’m getting old :)–after I fought to make my parents understand the ostracism I’d experience otherwise, my parents decided that I could go to sex ed but my mom would schedule some appointment for me on the day they discussed contraception. Considering that I believed I already knew everything about contraception, that was a little ridiculous to me. But it seemed to make them feel better, so I went along with it.

    I remember virtually nothing–outside of one GROSS video–from my sex ed classes. And I remember quite a bit from the conversations that I had with my parents (many spurred by their concern over sex ed) and my friends. Therefore, I think that while it’s important for parents to be aware of and respond to what’s being taught in their children’s sex ed classes, I can think of very few things that would make it worth the costs for a parent to crusade against a curriculum or pull their child out of a sex ed class.

  54. Matt Evans on May 17, 2005 at 7:50 pm

    I live in Montgomery County and church members have played an active role in challenging the curriculum. The Citizens for a Responsible Curriculum is headed by an LDS woman who was one of only 2 out of 25 members of the parents-advisory council to vote against adopting the curriculum.

    Last Lemming, the sex ed program was pilot tested at 5 or 6 schools this year. The TRO was against the district introducing it district-wide next fall.

    Regarding the Massachusetts story, NPR interviewed the father, the school superintendent, and the book’s author two weeks ago. The father said he wanted parents to be notified before children can be taught about homosexuality; the superintendent said the book wasn’t about sexuality, it was about the fact that the kids in Lexington have all kinds of parents and no where does it say that the two women and two men are in a sexual relationship. The author then came on and said that the Lexington father was a bigot and he’d specifically written the book with the hope that he could reach the kids before their bigoted parents taught them all kinds of bad ideas! It wasn’t clear to me if he realized he’d just undermined the superintendent and justified the father’s outrage.

  55. Jack on May 17, 2005 at 7:56 pm

    diogenes,

    You’re doing even a better job than Jeff of misrepresenting the general by over-emphasizing the specific.

  56. Miranda PJ on May 17, 2005 at 8:11 pm

    My parents didn’t bother to look at the curriculum for sex ed, because they would never dream of entrusting their precious daughter’s outlook on sex to strangers. In retrospect it surprises me, but I honestly didn’t mind the work, and I didn’t feel socially isolated at all. My parents are arch-arch-conservatives but did a fine job filling me in on the details of sex before I found it titilating. I was the little girl that was letting her peers on all the secrets of sex in the elementary school playground long before the school started teaching it.

    My husband Eric and I are at odds about whether to send our daughter to sex ed. Eric has all the apprehension that Gordon expresses but none of the flexibility. It doesn’t bother me that she’ll be taught things at odds with what we teach her. For goodness sakes, that happens at church!

  57. diogenes on May 17, 2005 at 8:35 pm

    Diogenes (49): what ward are you in!!??!! Because I don’t think prison wards are really a legitimate indicator for the discussion.

    I’m afraid it’s a nice, “normal” suburban ward. My previous leadership callings in other wards lead me to believe that it’s also, unfortunately, fairly “normal” in the distribution of rather serious worthiness problems. One of the things you discover in Church leadership is that apparently nice, normal wards are all little Payton Places, just like the Harper Valley P.T.A.

    One of the things I know from my current calling is that we have at least one brother in the ward who is struggling with same gender attraction. Unfortunately, many of the most serious impediments he has had to deal with come from the bigotry and prejudices of the members — i.e., those who go around saying things like “I wouldn’t trust that pervert **** to babysit my kids.”

    Admittedly, I wouldn’t trust him to babysit my kids either, but that’s because I believe he has poor judgment and very little common sense. Not because he’s gay.

  58. Steve Evans' on May 17, 2005 at 9:04 pm

    It seems to me that Diogenes is right in his response to Jeff Lindsay’s comment. I have a hard time figuring out where Jeff would draw the line and label someone a homophobe — if not in the situations he describes, then when exactly would someone cross into homophobia?

    I also find it unfortunate that Jeff trotted out one of the oldest and falsest chestnuts, that of homosexuals being more likely to turn into child molesters. That’s awful stuff, and to my knowledge untrue.

  59. lyle on May 17, 2005 at 9:37 pm

    Steve: Remind someone to trot out the parallel chestnut when you arbitrarily decide you don’t wnant your kid playing with kid z or x because they make some type of undesirable choices you don’t want your kid to pick up.

  60. annegb on May 17, 2005 at 9:39 pm

    The issue is sex ed, not homosexuality, per se. It sounds like schools teach extremes in opinions on homosexuality in their sex ed classes, either that religions are awful to reject homosexuality, or that homosexuals should be shunned.

    There must be a way to teach our children compassion without embracing a lifestyle. I believe that our leaders are becoming increasingly more compassionate with these difficult issues without condoning behaviors, and that we should follow their example.

  61. Steve Evans on May 17, 2005 at 10:24 pm

    lyle, I’m not saying that Jeff should be ashamed of being a homophobe. Just saying that he should call a spade a spade. If he doesn’t trust his kids to be around gays, that’s his business. But he shouldn’t try to defend his behavior behind scurrilous statistics when it’s just old-fashioned homophobia.

    And yes, I’m sure when I have kids I too will turn into one.

  62. Miranda PJ on May 17, 2005 at 10:39 pm

    Turn into what, Steve. A homophobe or a homesexual?

    Is all of this about homosexuality? I have very different views from my parents about homosexuality. Is there anybody here who doesn’t?

    I’m not playing the sophisticate or the cynic when I say that our children will have different views from our own on homosexuality. To the extant that sex ed plays a role in this, it is symptomatic of bigger picture issues. Fighting sex ed does not address these issue any more than cold medicine cures the cold.

  63. Steve Evans on May 17, 2005 at 10:53 pm

    har, har, Miranda. It’s always the newcomers that take potshots at venerable Blog-Elders such as myself. Respect the Brethren, PJ!

  64. J. Stapley on May 17, 2005 at 10:55 pm

    Steve Evans:

    In fairness, Jeff said: Given the higher potential for child abuse, many of us parents are uncomfortable with any male as a babysitter, gay or not.

    I don’t see anywhere that he said gay men molest children at a different rate than strait men.

  65. Miranda PJ on May 17, 2005 at 11:00 pm

    Pot shot, Steve? You take offense to the suggestion that you may be a latent homosexual? Maybe you already are a homophobe, kids or no.

  66. danithew on May 17, 2005 at 11:06 pm

    I think the second paragraph of Annegb’s comment (#60) is right on the money.

  67. annegb on May 17, 2005 at 11:10 pm

    One of my dearest friends is gay and she would never hurt a child. Another person I know regulary raped his daughter. He was heterosexual. Another friend was molested over and over by her father’s best friend. He was heterosexual.

    Being gay does not make a person a pedophile. That is something we can and should teach our children.

  68. Jason on May 18, 2005 at 12:20 am

    One of my dearest friends is gay and she would never hurt a child.

    Yeah, yeah, and Judas would never have betrayed Jesus. Never say never, sis.

  69. Kelly Knight on May 18, 2005 at 12:25 am

    Personally, I have no friends that are gay, at least that I know of. However, the Savior was very clear in that we are to love the sinner, even when hating the sin.

    Homosexuallity is clearly disdained and preached against in the Church, and in scripture. If the schools to which my children attend are teaching that the gay life style is normal and even healthy, then I counteract that with the teachings of the prophets.

    BTW, teaching that homosexuality is not within the bounds God has set for our actions is not homophobic. There is no “fear” of homosexuals or homosexuality. Simply, it is no different than teaching my child to avoid getting in a car with a drunk behind the wheel. Odds are, either my child will eventually die or suffer extreme injury, or be the cause of, or learn that drinking is not all that bad of in fact the drunk is lucky enough never to cause an accident. The more time we spend with a particular culture or life style, the more we begin to emulate that culture or life style.

    President Kimball, in “Miracle of Forgiveness” taught that we are to flee sin, flee the sins of our past, and all that is associated therewith. This would not make one homophobic, merely obedient.

  70. Justin H on May 18, 2005 at 12:31 am

    Miranda (#62 & 65): I don’t think Steve was taking umbrage at the suggestion he might be a latent homosexual. I think he was upset that you suggested he might be a homesexual.

    I think we all know that Steve rarely has sex at home.

  71. Justin H on May 18, 2005 at 12:38 am

    Jason (#68): You’re right! That must be why Jesus never trusted Judas, never ordained him to the apostleship, never invited him to dinner, never loved him…

  72. Miranda PJ on May 18, 2005 at 12:40 am

    Yuck, Justin! That’s way too much information.

  73. lyle on May 18, 2005 at 6:51 am

    re #67: Cherry picking out examples of “good” gays vs. “bad” heterosexual folks has _0_ persuasive power. We could just as easily do the reverse.

    My guess is you are tempted to cherry pick because the relative # of people who choose to engage in gay sex is very small vis-a-vis those that choose to engage in pro-creational sex. Hence, it is far easier to find the “bad apples” in the procreational crowd than the gay crowd; assuming a normal distribution of “bad” sinners in both groups. However, that doesn’t mean that there isn’t an equal number of “bad” sinners in the gay crowd whom you just haven’t happened to have heard horror stories about. You’ll note that the media loves to make hay about procreational folks that do bad things; while they are entirely silent re: gay crimes.

  74. lyle on May 18, 2005 at 6:56 am

    “I’m not playing the sophisticate or the cynic when I say that our children will have different views from our own on homosexuality. To the extant that sex ed plays a role in this, it is symptomatic of bigger picture issues. Fighting sex ed does not address these issue any more than cold medicine cures the cold”

    Miranda PJ. You hit the nail…except not as you appear to describe. Might I disagree? I sure hope the Children in Zion won’t have different views than their parents, whose views are hopefully fully in line with the Lord’s teachings on chastity & morality. “To the extant that sex ed [would change the children’s view away from the Lord] . . . Fighting sex ed” _DOES_ address the issue spot on.

  75. Stephen M (Ethesis) on May 18, 2005 at 8:38 am

    I suspect that even some of the Board of Trustees think that some of the professors down at BYU are nuts.

    Nice reprise.

    I’m surprised that no one has linked to the Atlantic article “Dan Quayle was right” on this subject.

  76. Miranda PJ on May 18, 2005 at 9:12 am

    lyle, I asked if anyone shares their parents’ view on homosexuals and nobody spoke up. Probably a few people do, but most people do not. Are our parents out of step with the Lord’s teaching, or or we? More likely than either alternative is the possibility that our leaders also do not share their parents view on homosexuals.

  77. anonymous on May 18, 2005 at 9:29 am

    Lyle

    How do you find the time to hang around here and post so much? I am amazed.

    Here’s a poem for you.

  78. Elisabeth on May 18, 2005 at 9:46 am

    I’m not sure what my parents’ views are on homosexuals. We have never talked about it. I didn’t even know what homosexuals were until I was 13 or 14 and “gay” suddenly became the latest cool word everybody was using. And even then I was a bit confused about what it all meant. I’m not THAT old (31), but times have definitely changed if 5 year olds are now being introduced to gay relationships in school.

  79. annegb on May 18, 2005 at 10:25 am

    How many convicted sex offenders are homosexual? How many are heterosexual? How many girls who were molested as children were molested by women? A person who molests children is a pedophile. There is a difference. If you’re going to label homosexuals as child molesters, what does that make a heterosexual?

    I am not justifying or condoning homosexuality. But I do know a goodly number of homosexual people who are otherwise kind people. Like I know a goodly number of moronic jerks who are heterosexual. Some of them here.

    What do you teach your children? I teach my kids that God ordained marriage and sex between husband and wife, but that some people have a different idea, and that is between them and God. I taught my daughter well enough so that when her boyfriend came out openly gay, she still could see he was a child of God and worthy of God’s love. She didn’t make stupid offensive jokes and her continued kindness to him did not turn her gay.

    I taught her that hypocrisy is rampant and that she’d better be careful not to pat herself too soundly on the back because she wasn’t gay. Let he who is without sin cast the first stone.

  80. HL Rogers on May 18, 2005 at 10:34 am

    I think the concept of loving the sinner and hating the sin is spot on. However, generally I think when it comes to homosexuals we merely pay this credo lip service–we simply have too much baggage to really carry it off well unless we consciously make the effort. If we really love the sinner and hate the sin we would treat homosexuals like we do others who committ serious sexual sin on par with homosexuality (I’m referring to fornicators and adulterers)–I would submit we don’t do this at all. Instead we often use the fact that homosexuality is a sin to justify a completely un-Christlike response to the person committing the sin.

  81. annegb on May 18, 2005 at 10:44 am

    Not only that, but it’s mostly men who are quick to jump on the bandwagon ripping gay people to shreds. What’s up with that?

    I know quite a few gay people, not just my one representative best friend. One is a jerk, not the kind who molests children, the kind who beat his wife. Yeah, he was married.

  82. Paul on May 18, 2005 at 10:47 am

    There is a thin line between compassion and permission, and it takes a really astute spirit to know the difference between the two sides. “Love the sinner, hate the sin” is a great platitude, but the practical implementation thereof is hard. Is it better to love the sinner and tolerate the sin or hate the sin and not tolerate the sinner? I think those two choices are closer to reality.

  83. annegb on May 18, 2005 at 10:58 am

    Do you tolerate unkindness? What do you do about unkind, or lazy, or fat, or hey, let’s take people who dishonor the Sabbath, or break the word of wisdom? Do you know any adulterers? Do you “tolerate” them? How do you treat them?

    I am personally grossed out at the image of two women or two men kissing. Is it possible that that personal repulsion is reflected here rather than a personal decision to reject the sin? I’m not hearing much love for the sinner here.

  84. Eric S on May 18, 2005 at 10:59 am

    “My guess is you are tempted to cherry pick because the relative # of people who choose to engage in gay sex is very small vis-a-vis those that choose to engage in pro-creational sex.”

    Of course, not all heterosexual sex is “pro-creational.”

  85. Paul on May 18, 2005 at 11:29 am

    annegb, I am not disagreeing with you. I just wonder if the choice is closer to the one I posit. Also, I wonder if homosexual activity is a grosser (or worse) sin than the ones you list? We know that sin is ordinal in LDS theology.

    When I was in the missionary training center, I got into a relatively heated argument with the members of my district over whether homosexuality is a learned or innate trait. I was the lone person who argued that it is, at least to some extent, innate. I’m not sure I hold that view as strongly now as I did then, but the issue is complex.

  86. lyle stamps on May 18, 2005 at 11:32 am

    Eric: Yes, but at least it has the potential to be so. You will note that prophylactic companies (regardless of the method) don’t offer guarantees; if they did…there would be a several more rich lawyers out there.

    All:

    “If 2% of the population is responsible for 20% to 40% of something as socially and personally troubling as child molestation, something must be desperately wrong with that 2%. Not every homosexual is a child molester. But enough gays do molest children so that the risk of a homosexual molesting a child is 10 to 20 times greater than that of a heterosexual.”

    http://www.lifeandlibertyministries.com/archives/000098.php

    Now, since some folks will say that 2% is too low; let’s double that to 4%. That still leaves us with gays being 5 to 10 times more likely to molest a child than a heterosexual.

    You can trot out as many “nice” gays and “bad” procreationals as you want. I have plenty of gay friends too. My brother-in-law is openly gay. He is a great guy, I like him, and we enjoy spending time with him and his partner. However, we won’t be asking him to raise our children (when we have and/or adopt them); nor will we likely ever let them baby sit. What is so hard to understand about increased risk? Do you wear a seatbelt or not?

  87. Jordan on May 18, 2005 at 11:36 am

    I understand “increased risk”. But I can’t understand how a gay man or woman presents an increased risk over any other type of sinner. And I certainly can’t make any connection between the issue of sex education and gay babysitting, or between gay babysitting and wearing/not wearing a seatbelt.

  88. lyle stamps on May 18, 2005 at 11:42 am

    If you want the original source, try this link:

    http://familyresearchinst.org/FRI_EduPamphlet2.html

    Jordan: I’m not claiming to understand the link; I’m just putting down what the statistics seem to show. Proportionally, per capita, there is a higher rate of sexual abuse where the perpetrator is gay. Now, maybe there is some other variable involved here. This is stricly correlational data; and isn’t necessarily causal. However, I’ll still with the correlation until someone sets forth a better one.

    Risk is risk. I’m risk acceptant when it comes to living in a poor neighborhood. You are risk adverse. I’m risk adverse to leaving children unattened around folks that have a higher rate of abuse. Apparently you aren’t.

  89. annegb on May 18, 2005 at 11:49 am

    The only thing I think about not wanting a gay to babysit my kids would be perhaps their championing of a situation I would reject as ordained by God, and confusing my kids. I would feel the same way about somebody who drank or embraced other sins. I also try not to expose my kids to unkind people. Oh, that’s totally hypocritical. They have to live with me. Well, they used to. But I don’t let mean people babysit, either.

    I’m not sure I accept those statistics about gays molesting children. In fact, I’m pretty sure I don’t. Where’d you get them? Is it possible that the reason for the vitriole here is that many MEN are molested by other men as children? Those men would be pedophiles, not homosexuals. There is a difference. A man who molests young boys is not sleeping with other men, he is abusing children.

    I used to be quite homophobic, but as I see more and more, especially young men, struggle with same sex attraction, in this predominantly Mormon community, I opt for kindness. They know I don’t accept their choice as a valid way to live, but they know I don’t hate them for it. I think God is going to work this out.

    Really sorry for the threadjack, guys. This is yet another aspect of sex education that must be approached carefully with our children, however. I do not believe we should teach our kids to hate.

  90. Daniel on May 18, 2005 at 11:49 am

    Anon, #77, I think your comment to Lyle is out of line. You may disagree with him, but the solution is not to try to silence him with comments but to address his arguments and thoughts. Some of the comments here seem to cross the line into personal attacks and do nothing to illuminate what is otherwise an interesting topic. It seems to me that the purpose of this site is to share LDS perspectives and thoughts — our own personal journeys as we grapple with tough issues and our faith. Recriminations and askance insults do not further this journey, especially when they are made behind the veil of anonymity. It seems that we should all proceed with the basic premise that other participants on this site are faithful people who are trying to work through difficult issues, as God commands us to do. Some might be more invested in a particular topic, or might rely on this site for contact with other Saints, and disparagement of them is not productive or, may I say, Christ-like. I find this especially ironic given our discussion here of tolerance and kindness. If we can’t be civil with others with whom we may disagree on a blog, I find it doubtful that we can graciously and kindly disagree with others between whose views and our own lies a great trench indeed.

    I read in a church manual on my mission (I think it was Principles of the Gospel, but can’t remember), that parents should address childrens’ questions on sex clearly and forthrightly, without any sense of embarrassment or shame, but without going too far beyond what the child is asking (i.e., not giving them too much too early). The manual pointed out that in this way, children were more likely to turn to their parents again for truth when they had other questions rather than to their friends on the street or playground, and would thus develop proper attitudes and ideas about intimacy. I thought then that this was excellent advice.

    I also find it interesting that Corinthians, when discussing the whole armor of God, refers to the protection of the loins to consist of having our “loins girded about with truth.” I think we overlook the power of this principle. To the extent that children and youth are taught the truth about sexual relations, they will be protected from the adversary’s darts and temptations. I once had to give a talk on this particular part of the armor and it has since changed my views completely. Perhaps one of the primary reasons our youth are immoral is because they have not been taught correct attitudes and truths about sexuality, both within and without the Church, because their parents have the Puritan baggage that sex is wrong or somehow evil. Unfortunately, many of the converts to the Church brought this false doctrine with them when they joined the Church, and this false teaching persists in the Church, leading to bad behavior because the truth has not been taught. My wife and I have had discussions many times about how strange it is that she was taught in Young Womens’ by well-meaning but ill-informed teachers that sex was bad, only to find in an instant after our sealing that she was to do a 180 degree turn in her attitude. Instead, we should teach that sex is not only good, but also healthy and an essential part of the marriage relationship, but that shared outside of the relationship, is a betrayal of ourselves and will not lead to happiness.

    I intend to teach my sons as they grow older that there is nothing more beautiful than sex within the married relationship with the person to whom we have pledged our eternity, and that to offer such a wonderful thing to another without such a committment cheapens and degrades the ultimate expression of love. It is my opinion that to entrust the teaching of such a sacred topic (with attendant attitudes towards it) to someone who does not understand the truth themselves or who could not possibly understand its place in a relationship is to allow our children to not have armor over their loins, especially when they are very young and this is likely their first impression on the matter. The Church fought tooth and nail against public education for this very reason. It opposed education in general, not sex education, entrusted to those who were not righteous, as the Book of Mormon specifically warns against entrusting teaching to anyone not sharing that qualification. It was successful until the US made institution of public education by teachers not chosen by the Church a condition of statehood.

    I think we could do a much better job as a Church of teaching our children how to have “their loins girt about with truth.” I don’t think that the proper way to use a condom or the risk of AIDS alone, without the other teachings I mentioned above, qualifies as “truth” in the context of that scripture.

  91. Daniel on May 18, 2005 at 12:20 pm

    Jordan,
    Lyle’s research is borne out by the studies. The homosexuality issue, especially in terms of marriage, became a pet topic in my last year of law school, so I read extensively the social science research in this area (and would be happy to forward those studies I have in PDF format to you if you wish). Heterosexuals commit far more abuses of children than homosexuals, but that is largely because there are so many more of them (credible studies put the homosexual figure at a liberal 2-3% of the population; only Kinsey’s discredited-though-still-widely-cited study using a sample set of convicted offenders in prison puts it at 10% or greater). The poor neighborhood argument is applicable, since there we are talking about general risk tolerance, rather than specific risk tolerance. It is a matter of playing the odds.

    In priesthood leadership, I became aware of many fine individuals who struggled against same-sex attraction in our ward. Some of them were very fine individuals, and I truly love them and count them among my friends. I sympathize with their struggle and feel for them. I cannot, however, approve to the extent they act on tendencies or temptations, anymore than I approve of other failings. There is nothing homophobic about considering such behavior immoral. Generally speaking, babysitting decisions must be made on an individual basis, though because of the increased risk of sexual behavior from those struggling with these challenges, I might be very careful, generally speaking, before allowing an individual with that challenge to babysit my sons and change their diapers, not because I do not trust or love them, but because I would similarly not allow boys during their teenage years to have access to an internet connection in the privacy of their own rooms. These really are matters of common sense. Recognizing tendencies is something that we must do on this earth — as Elder Oaks said, we cannot pass final judgment, but we are constantly required, as Saints, to make temporal judgments about individuals being “good” or “bad” while on this earth. To do otherwise is to bring our children and those individuals needlessly into risk and temptation respectively. Because we cannot see hearts and intentions, we often must act on incomplete information while in this life. To make the assumption that they are good and would never do such a thing is unwise and is a salve to our ego at a cost to our children.

    Though my parents had no warning signs, a close family friend who was a member of the Church attempted to sexually abuse my brothers and myself when we were young. Luckily, it was discovered with little or no damage or long-term effects, but there could have been no way to know — in fact, this man seemed to be a devoted father, husband and very nice man. My father had fellowshipped him, helped his family, and considered him a good friend. Child sexual abuse is much more common than is generally acknowledged, and those parents who needlessly risk their childrens’ emotional health do a grave disservice to their children by salving(sp?) their conscience with thoughts that they are open-minded and tolerant while allowing a fox into the hen-house, even if, to stretch that analogy, that fox is otherwise a very fine, loyal and well behaved animal. If I am on a diet, I do not enter the donut shop to prove how strong I am. Of course, these are individual decisions, and, in fairness, statistically speaking, any woman, lesbian or otherwise, is not likely to sexually abuse children.

  92. lyle stamps on May 18, 2005 at 12:42 pm

    annegb: I don’t think your attempted distinction between male and female child molestors holds. There is no distinction between pedophile abuse of a male child and homosexuality. Unless you have some study to show a distinction…I just don’t see one. Do “pedophiles” always abuse the same age group? Or do they just go after targets of opportunity?

    I don’t plan to let my kids be opportunities.

    re: sex ed. So, what happens when schools teach our kids that sexual experimentation is natural and a good thing? How are you going to feel when your (fe)male child comes to you after having ‘experimented’ with another (fe)male per their sex ed class?

  93. annegb on May 18, 2005 at 12:55 pm

    I don’t need a study, I have the common sense the tell the difference between sex between two consenting adults and sex forced upon a child.

    And hopefully, your child will come to you before he or she experiments, if you’re doing your job as a parent. You start teaching healthy attitudes towards sex when your kids are very little and you teach them consistently. You remain open and talk to your kids constantly, so that whatever erroneous teachings your kids encounter, you’ve already discussed.

    Lyle, you do a lot of bashing. I guarantee that at least some of the things you bash, you will personally encounter and it will drastically change your perspective. I remember being young and very sure of myself until life came back and bit me in the butt. Let me know how sure you are of your opinions ten years and a few kids from now.

  94. Jordan on May 18, 2005 at 12:55 pm

    I’m risk adverse to leaving children unattened around folks that have a higher rate of abuse. Apparently you aren’t.

    Wow, Lyle. That is a pretty bold assertion to make, especially considering how you hardly even know me, much less have any idea of who I get to babysit. Oh, well.

  95. lyle stamps on May 18, 2005 at 1:03 pm

    Jordan: My apologies if that came across as an accusation. You argued for that position (I thought), so I attributed it to you. However, if you don’t accept the correlational data…then my assertion doesn’t fit. My bad.

    annegb: Fair enough. Thomas Jefferson extolled the wisdom of the common (wo)man. He certainly wasn’t a dummy (although if you ask Nate Oman…he might be more critical :).

  96. Kaimi on May 18, 2005 at 1:03 pm

    Lyle writes:

    “There is no distinction between pedophile abuse of a male child and homosexuality.”

    That’s an incredibly wrong statement.

    Pedophilia, whether it is directed at same-gender or different-gender children, is a mental sickness. It’s something wrong with the normal sex drive. Pedophilia is not a component of a normal sex drive, whether that is a heterosexual or homosexual sex drive.

    Put it this way, Lyle. You’re a heterosexual male, so you find women attractive. If a cute 21-year-old woman in a bikini walks by, you probably notice her.

    Does this mean that you find a six-year-old girl attractive in a sexual way? I certainly hope not. People with normal heterosexual sex drives are likely to find post-pubescent members of the opposite sex to be sexually attractive.

    The same applies with homosexuals. A normal homosexual man may find a handsome 21-year-old man attractive.

    This does not mean that he will find a six-year-old boy attractive, and more than you or I, or any normal heterosexual man, would find a six-year-old girl attractive.

  97. lyle stamps on May 18, 2005 at 1:07 pm

    Kaimi: You’ve located the issue. “Normal sex drive.” However, your logic presumes:

    1. homosexuality follows the pathology/rules of a “normal” sex drive; and
    2. that homosexuality “is” a ‘normal’ sex drive.

    I don’t think either position is either widely accepted or proven.

  98. Jim F. on May 18, 2005 at 1:19 pm

    Some surprising things to be learned from the last 60 or so posts to this thread: Some people don’t want homosexuals as babysitters, but others think that they are being too cautious. What a shock! That is such a revelation that I’ll probably be unable to think about anything else for the rest of the day.

    PLEASE get off of that topic. It has been beaten to death, with the only result being that people now have more people at whom they can be angry. No one has changed anyone else’s mind. I suspect that no one has even stopped to reflect for a moment on his or her previous position. In other words, there is nothing more to say on this. So why keep saying it? Have we nothing better to do with our time than to repeat the same thing over and over again?

  99. Minerva on May 18, 2005 at 1:19 pm

    Lyle,

    For many, homosexuality is a normal sex drive and is indeed discrete from pedophilia.

    And someone said that women are statistically less likely to be pedophiles. This may be true, but I don’t think that this is an entirely safe assumption. You can’t assume that just because someone is female, she’s not going to harm your children.

  100. DavidH on May 18, 2005 at 1:23 pm

    I do think there has been some adjustment in the the attitude of the institutional church towards homosexuality (or same sex attraction (“SSA”), moving slowly towards more emphasis on compassion and away from strident condemnation.

    For example, the For the Strength of the Youth pamphlet no longer refers to homosexual acts as an “abomination” but as “serious sin.”

    The Church’s publishing arm recently printed an excellent and compassionate book, In Quiet Desperation: Understanding the Challenge of Same Sex Attraction. A few of the early customer comments posted on the Deseret Book website were angry, one arguing that the book seemed more like a “gay sensitivity seminar”, which might “encourag[e] homosexuality.” But the overwhelming portion of the comments posted are positive. http://deseretbook.com/store/product-comments?product_id=100100302#customer_reviews

  101. Paul on May 18, 2005 at 1:26 pm

    “Pedophilia, whether it is directed at same-gender or different-gender children, is a mental sickness. It’s something wrong with the normal sex drive. Pedophilia is not a component of a normal sex drive, whether that is a heterosexual or homosexual sex drive.”

    I think that is a wrong statement as well. I had a professor who was as big a proponent of NAMBLA as he was homosexuality. He cited Socrates and Plato and would say that it is just a matter of time before pedophilia is as accepted as heterosexuality and homosexuality. I don’t agree with him, but I also don’t agree that sexual activity can be classed into normal and abnormal, for the class will constantly change depending on societal norms.

    There is only one type of sex ordained of God — that between a man and a woman who are legally married. Whether that is “normal” or not is somewhat irrelevant. The natural man is an enemy to God and will always be so.

  102. Paul on May 18, 2005 at 1:32 pm

    Jim, if we cannot continue to reason monitor to monitor on the important, overarching themes from which these threads derive, even if recycled, then what is the point of this blog?

  103. danithew on May 18, 2005 at 2:02 pm

    Jim F., when you’re feeling that very special mental and physiological response that tells you a discussion has become overly redundant, repetitive and useless, just type CHUPACABRA! and hit “make comment.” You’ll feel so much better.

    It’s funny that you say that about the whole “homosexuals as babysitters” topic. I spent some time typing up my response to the issue and then just decided it was a waste of time. That comment is now in the same specially-appointed other-dimensional void where socks and ball-point pens disappear to.

  104. Nate Oman on May 18, 2005 at 2:17 pm

    “what is the point of this blog?”

    Fame, power, and glory! Dignitas and Gravitas!

    (Can you tell that I have been reading Roman histories?)

  105. Jack on May 18, 2005 at 2:26 pm

    Don’t forget, Jim, that some folks are blogging on this topic for the first time. Can we not look upon them affectionately as we nostalgically turn our thoughts to our own ascension through the rites of induction so long ago?

  106. Steve Evans on May 18, 2005 at 2:52 pm

    This thread sounds like Ripley from Aliens: “kill….me…..please…!!”

  107. Jordan on May 18, 2005 at 2:53 pm

    Jim, there seems to be mainly one driving force behind the descent of this excellent piece on sexual education in school to an argument about the merits of homosexual babysitters.

    It kind of reminds me of an elder’s quorum lesson where you start talking about the priesthood and end with a discussion on early american airfields.

    Both seem driven by the same sort of force- some wild analogy that distracts from the thrust of the original post.

  108. Jim F on May 18, 2005 at 3:00 pm

    Paul (#102): If we cannot continue to reason monitor to monitor on the important, overarching themes from which these threads derive, even if recycled, then what is the point of this blog

    I have nothing against reasoning with one another on any topic. I don’t particularly object to repeating the same topics every once in a while. Generally I’m also neither surprised nor irritated when someone makes a point that has already been made. But much of this thread has not been exemplary of reasoning monitor-to-monitor–or reasoning in any other way–and much of what we see in the discussion of homosexual baby sitters, as well as of homosexuality more broadly, isn’t just a recycling of what has already been discussed on other threads in some bygone month. It is a recycling of essentially the same comments over and over again in this thread.

    Jack (#105): You’re right, those who’ve not been around through some of the earlier flame wars need to be allowed some time to acculturate themselves, but part of that acculturation is also learning to quit when a point has been made and made and made. I thought that 90+ comments was enough.

    Danithew (#103): Thanks. I’d forgotten about that oh-so important expletive and its salubrious effects.

    Nate (#104): We can tell not only that you have been reading about the Romans, but also that, given what seems to be your understanding of fame, power, glory, dignity, and gravity, you’ve been working too long as an underling in a major law firm.

  109. Nate Oman on May 18, 2005 at 3:17 pm

    Jim: My attitude is that it is blogging today and sowing the ruins of Carthage with salt next week. Even Caesar was once a lowly flamen dialis.

  110. Steve Evans on May 18, 2005 at 3:21 pm

    Like Nate wasn’t already having delusions of grandeur. Reading up on the Romans will bring him only closer to wearing laurels and a toga to work.

  111. Kaimi on May 18, 2005 at 3:26 pm

    I sowed a hard-boiled egg with salt today. I think that the result was quite good.

  112. Nate Oman on May 18, 2005 at 3:27 pm

    Steve: What makes you think that I don’t wear a toga and laurels to work? I am surrounded by marble faced buildings built on the Roman model. A toga would seem more appopriate than Brooks Brothers.

  113. claire on May 18, 2005 at 3:31 pm

    Lyle- I don’t know why I and others feel compelled to address your rather outrageous claims, but somehow we do.

    Re: the difference between pedophelia and homosexuality. When sex offenders are in therapy, many programs use a device called a penile plethysmograph in which arousal to different auditory sexual situations are measured (google it if you want more detail than I’m giving on this family blog). Usually four scenarios are given; male child, female child, adult male, adult female (I think in offenders with forcible attacks, there are scenarios including force as well, but we rarely dealt with them in outpt therapy).

    There is most definately a difference between men who are attracted to children and men who are attracted to adults.

  114. lyle stamps on May 18, 2005 at 3:31 pm

    Now I’m jealous Nate. I only get to wear shorts & a t-shirt. You get all the fun.

  115. Nate Oman on May 18, 2005 at 3:34 pm

    Lyle: I would be careful. At our firm we have been known to parade vanquished plaintiff’s counsel around the conference rooms in triumph before selling them into slavery, generally in the tin mines of Brittania and we all know what their food is like.

  116. Steve Evans on May 18, 2005 at 3:36 pm

    The best part is watching the summer associates duke it out in the gladitorial combat arena. They have such cushy jobs!

  117. lyle stamps on May 18, 2005 at 3:48 pm

    Nate: So the rumor is true. The billions plaintiff’s lawyers have recovered for their clients is only the tip of the iceberg of true damages, and “vanquished” plaintiff’s counsel are those that only get pennies on the dollar. I’ll heed they warning…from now on, I want dimes on the dollar! [So I can buy my way out of slavery…unless the slave mines of Sullivan & Cromwell are available; the food in-mine food there is fairly nice.]

  118. danithew on May 18, 2005 at 3:52 pm

    It seems appropriate that a lawyer would wish to dress like the society descended from men who were suckled by wolves.

    OK that was low. It’s just a joke! Really! I have no assets! Please!

  119. Miranda PJ on May 19, 2005 at 12:28 am

    Jim F, your anxiety over people’s mind having been changed by this discussion is misplaced. If you created a thread devoted to mind changing posts and comments, how many comments would that thread get? 300? 100? 40? 10? Honestly, I’d love to see mutual online edification like you describe, Jim F. It’s just not there, and I fear that you’ve set yourself up for perpetual disappointment by expecting it to be.

  120. Silus Grok on May 19, 2005 at 12:33 pm

    Good heavens! This thread has been one of the most negative ones I’ve read here… and it’s a shame. Ad hominem attacks are completely beneath us.

    * shakes head *

    Anyway… a few comments:

    First, on the topic of the front page post… sex education is an admittedly hot topic. And while I concur with Christine’s plea that sex ed should be approached from a public health objective, I wonder if that’s at all possible in a society where sexuality has become so politicized. If this thread is any indication, we may be seeing the back side of a hill we can’t re-negotiate. So what should we do? I like Daniel’s comment (#90), which seems to echo Lyle’s comment (#40)… namely, we innoculate children at an early age with a profound sense of security in their parent’s willingness to answer tough questions and their own ability to discern truth from everything else. My sister has taken this approach with her children, and it seems to work well. Moreover, it seems to parallel Heavenly Father’s own approach with his children.

    Second, on Jeff Lindsay’s comment (#41), it’s a shame that he hasn’t posted again, as I sense from re-reading it that we may be mis-representing his feelings on the matter. Specifically, it would seem that his aversion is to men as baby-sitters. That said, I should say that I’ve baby-sat some of the neighborhood kids and I’ve thought that I should tell them that I’m gay, as a prophylactic against mis-placed ire should they hear it from someone else first. I mentioned this to a few friends in the church and they all basically said that I was over-reacting… that it’s no one’s business. But given the anger in this thread, I may re-think my stance… if only to keep the peace.

    Third, Lyle’s links seem dubious on their face (look at the sites they link to). Beyond that, a couple points: everything I’ve heard and my own observations would suggest that pedophilia is most definitely a male issue (by and large)… so male baby-sitters are certainly an issue… of course, the best way to address that is to be prayerful about child-care, to minimize one’s out-sourcing such an important (and non-communicable) parental responsibilty, and to be vigilant; also, I think the distinction of between pedophilia and peer-sexuality (I’ll avoid the phrase “normal sexual drives” out of deference to whomever questioned its use in connection with homosexuality) is distinct — and I think the case has already been made here, but I wanted to throw in my vote; finally, I wonder if the numbers being thrown around, though (and this is being said without having seen the primary research) aren’t being bouyed by conflating numbers of cases of true pedophelia (the 30 year old abusing the 10 year old) and peri-pubescent experimentation. Just some thoughts.

    Fourth, Kelly… I assure you: you have homosexual acquaintances. Homosexuality occurs fairly evenly throughout the world at a rate of between 2 and 7 percent (depending on the research, the most-quoted rate being 5%). At those rates, it would be hard _not_ to know someone who is homosexual… and if you have any doubts, well… give me a ring, and then you’ll know at least one.

    : )

    Fifth, also Kelly… I whole-heartedly concur: believing or preaching that homosexual behavior is sinful is not tantamount to homophobia. I hate that word, as it destroys dialog. Hate hate hate it. I don’t use it, and I wish others would, too.

    That’s it. I have more to say, but don’t have the time or inclination to go into the whole “gay and mormon” thing here and now.

    Great FPP, Gordon… it’s a shame that it didn’t result in a more useful dialog.

  121. Daniel on May 19, 2005 at 1:31 pm

    Silus,
    Thanks for your comments on this. I think you have a unique insight into all of this that is very helpful. Thanks for very honestly and candidly posting. I appreciate it.

    Where do you get the 2-7% statistics? My research indicated that the number was 2-3% measuring liberally.

    With regards to the issue of changing people’s minds, I don’t think that is a tall order. As a matter of fact, that is one reason why I continue to return to this site. As one of my favorite professors use to say (Steve Walker at BYU): “None of us is as smart as all of us.”

  122. annegb on May 19, 2005 at 1:49 pm

    Jim F., others, I apologize in advance if this is polemics, I looked it up and it is sort of me, as much as I can understand. This thread sort of got all jacked up and I know I’m part of that because of my defense of gay people stereotyped as sex offenders. I suppose that part of educating our children is being informed ourselves and taking care.

    But something Silus said rang a bell with me. In my experience, it is a mistake to have adolescent boys babysit at all. Their hormones, hetero or homo-sexual are raging and if they are given free reign to babysit their little sisters, especially, but not only, things happen that can affect all the family for life. I don’t condemn or hate those boys, but it is asking for trouble, even if that certain boy would never in a million years consider molesting his sister or a younger child.

    Part of good sex ed is being informed and aware as parents of the possibilities for problems in our homes.

  123. Silus Grok on May 19, 2005 at 1:52 pm

    Daniel: thank you… as for the range, 2 to 7% with the outlier at 10% has always been the range I’ve encountered, with 5% being the safe number quoted by people I trust. That said, heresay isn’t very useful… so I should do a little research and get you some sources. The problem, of course, in discussing numbers is at least two-fold:

    This is a very politicized topic, with both sides having proven themselves willing, eager, and capable with regards to stretching the science to represent their views… as such, it’s not helpful to just site a source. One practically has to dig through the source’s family tree to see whether the data is trustworthy.

    Add to the questionable motives of the loudest voices out there, we have the questions raised by taxonomy… if human sexuality can manifest itself in myriad ways — and I maintain that it does — what, exactly, is a homosexual? Does one go on self-identification alone? Is that useful? Does a single act count? How about the Kinsian scale (0-6), and its progeny?

    Anyway, I could go on… but you get the idea.

    Even at 2%, that’s an even higher concentration than Mormons have in the US.

    :)

    Aside: And if you want a lot of fun, we could always talk about the whole nature v nurture thing… here’s an interesting article if you’d like a fairly even-handed overview of some of those issues:

    http://www.iht.com/articles/2005/05/17/opinion/edpinker.php

  124. lyle stamps on May 19, 2005 at 2:10 pm

    Silus: I’m happy to agree with you over the innoculation approach. Your appreciation of the overly broad stroke usage of homophobia is also constructive. I would also note discounting based on identity is just poisoning the well. For example, it seems like the #s they come up with are fairly close to yours; admittedly they take a very strict definition of “homosexual,” which yield estimates of 1-4%; while a more liberal (homosexual = all those who have even had a single instance of thinking another member of the same gender was sexually attractive) has yielded that 10% figure.

  125. Silus Grok on May 19, 2005 at 2:44 pm

    Better watch out, Lyle… agreeing with me could give you the gay.

    ; )

    I would also note discounting based on identity is just poisoning the well.

    You lost me here… who are “they”, and discounting what on the basis of whose identity? I don’t mean to nitpick… I just don’t know which of my points you’re responding to.

    * shrugs shoulders *

    For example, it seems like the #s they come up with are fairly close to yours; admittedly they take a very strict definition of “homosexual,” which yield estimates of 1-4%; while a more liberal (homosexual = all those who have even had a single instance of thinking another member of the same gender was sexually attractive) has yielded that 10% figure.

    Again, I’m not sure to whom you’re referring. Sorry.

    At any rate, what I’d really like to comment on is your last point… a generous definition of homosexuality would get higher numbers, but you should be aware that there is discussion (again, I really need to keep track of source material) that the numbers would be more like 25% if you used your “liberal” definition — as the model I’ve heard has 75% of the population at a Kinsian 0, with roughly 5% for each step from there to 6. My own personal bias would be more inclined to say that 5% are 0, 75% fall at 1, and the other 20% litter the field. But I have only my gut to go on with that assertion… and I’m not entirely sold on the 75% number, either; I’m just not of the opinion that most folks have had absolutely no homosexual thoughts or proclivities.

    Of course, this is all moot: even at the lowest numbers accepted, there are more homosexuals in the US than Mormons.

  126. Silus Grok on May 19, 2005 at 2:50 pm

    PS… Daniel: I’d love to see a copy of your research. You can reach me using my handle at gmail.

  127. lyle stamps on May 19, 2005 at 3:23 pm

    Silus: Not anymore than my BIL or other homosexual friends. :). Besides, if it did…association would be causal and then we’d probably see a real pogrom.

    re: poisoning the well & #s, both refer to the links I provided; which you questioned based on “where” they came from.

  128. Silus Grok on May 19, 2005 at 5:08 pm

    Good heavens, Lyle!

    I finally took a moment to read the links you gave me and these folks, man… they’re right up there with the “God Hates Fags” camp with regards to rhetorical authority.

    They could be spewing the truth, but I can’t get past the dreck.

    Come back with research done by people with a smaller axe to grind.

  129. lyle stamps on May 19, 2005 at 6:00 pm

    Silus: I agree that the source makes it difficult. They spew the same dislike of LDS folks also. The ministry link I would ignore out of hand; but while I don’t like the Family Research Council in general; they are usually fair about their scientific/data interpretations.

  130. Jim F on May 19, 2005 at 6:14 pm

    Miranda PJ (#119): If you created a thread devoted to mind changing posts and comments, how many comments would that thread get? 300? 100? 40? 10? Honestly, I’d love to see mutual online edification like you describe, Jim F. It’s just not there, and I fear that you’ve set yourself up for perpetual disappointment by expecting it to be.

    Au contraire. I’ve been doing this more than a year now and have not met with perpetual disappointment. I should, however, note that I have often been disappointed by the quality of thinking one sees on threads that have many, many responses. If a thread gets beyond a certain number of responses (I’m not sure what the number is, but I bet it is less than 100), the probability that the majority of responses are repetitive, uninformative, and often contentious is very high. I don’t think we ought to measure the quality of a post by the number of responses it receives, especially when, much of the time, a majority of those responses–as in this case–have little to do with the original post. However, in the last few weeks I think we have had quite a number of excellent posts followed by good discussion in the responses: “mutual online edification.” And some of them have been exceptions to my generalization about the quality of threads with many responses.

  131. Ben S. on May 19, 2005 at 7:03 pm

    “If a thread gets beyond a certain number of responses, the probability that the majority of responses are repetitive, uninformative, and often contentious is very high.”

    Thereby proving the superiority of M* posts, which consistantly remain under 30 or so comments :)

  132. Daniel on May 19, 2005 at 8:08 pm

    Silus,
    What is your handle at gmail? I’m a little technologically unsophisticated, so I don’t know what you mean. In the past I’ve just clicked on someone’s name to get their email. I don’t want to make you spew your address on this site, but if you could explain, that would be great. The articles are saved on my home computer, though, so it would have to wait until I am actually on my home computer (not very often), but I would be happy to do so.

    Thanks for the reference to the article. I had read that with interest earlier this month and found it fascinating.

    Kinsey’s research has been totally discredited, mostly due to his reliance on a flawed sample set — namely, convicted felons in prison (painting with a broad brush). Notwithstanding his errors, he is still widely cited and relied upon. I have a hard time with his research because he was, generally speaking, not intellectually honest and his methodologies were flawed.

    I agree with you 100% that the numbers vary depending on how you define “homosexual”. Pro-homosexuals generally define it using the broadest possible measure; those opposed to homosexuality generally define it very narrowly. I would probably define it as someone who is consistently and strongly attracted to those of the same sex (not those who might have a homosexual thought once in a while) and derives sexual pleasure from members of the same sex and who generally is NOT attracted to members of the opposite sex.

    The jury is still out for me on what % are simply born that way (I don’t know either way whether it is innate or not), but I do know that a heterosexual person can become homosexual. Sexual abuse as a child increases the odds, as does performing a homosexual act once. My friend’s brother is the lead scholar on homosexuality for the Church-sponsored think tank (name escapes me — someone help here? Greentree or something like that). He noted that a distinct type of brain scan of males and females show distinct differences. However, interestingly, males who had engaged in homosexual behavior or viewed pornography over an extended period of time eventually had indistinguishable scans from those of women. I think it isn’t right to relegate homosexuality entirely to either choice or biology. To do so would be dishonest, especially since there is still so much we don’t know. I do think, however, that the prevalence of the homosexual lifestyle, and, indeed, its glorification in our culture leads to a greater occurrence of homosexual behavior.

    There was an Ensign article on same-sex attraction a few months ago that I thought was very well done and very even-handed from a doctrinal perspective. Did you read it, Silus? If so, I’d very much like to hear your take (I’ve revealed mine).

    annegb #122. I agree with your perspective on adolescent boys. I read somewhere that the hormone level of a boy at 17 (sexual peak) is roughly 17 times the average later in life when normalcy has set in. My wife and I joke that a 17 year old boy barely knows how to control himself at this age, much less be trusted with someone else’s children. The proper place for a boy that age is digging trenches with all that sexual energy — or opposite the business end of a pick and shovel.

  133. Silus Grok on May 19, 2005 at 9:11 pm

    MyHandle=SilusGrok

  134. Silus Grok on May 19, 2005 at 9:29 pm

    Daniel… I haven’t read the Ensign since the started using that awful airbrush illustrator. I know: pretty pathetic. If you can point me towards the article, I’d be happy to read it and give you my impressions.

    The group you’re talking about is Evergreen. They are a semi-autonomous organization that sponsors support groups all over the place, and they are focused on reparative therapy. I think they have their place… but they certainly have their problems and their detractors.

    Anyway, I don’t mean to draw out the death of a beleaguered thread… so I’ll just say thanks, again, to Gordon for a great FPP, and invite anyone who wants to chat further to e-mail me.

  135. Daniel on May 19, 2005 at 9:31 pm

    with regards to the homosexuality issue, this link is also helpful:
    http://www.lightplanet.com/mormons/daily/sexuality/oaks_same.htm

  136. Jason on May 19, 2005 at 10:09 pm

    Justin H (#71): You’re right! That must be why Jesus never trusted Judas, never ordained him to the apostleship, never invited him to dinner, never loved him…

    Hm… Trust… maybe. Interesting that you equate negatives with positives…

  137. Miranda PJ on May 19, 2005 at 10:24 pm

    Jim F, I’m relieved to be so mistaken about your prospects for satisfaction, and I am completely fascinated by this new formula of yours: the quality of a post is in inverse proportion to the square of its comments. Is that right?

  138. Jim F on May 19, 2005 at 10:40 pm

    Miranda PJ: No, as I said, “I don’t think we ought to measure the quality of a post by the number of responses it receives.” It doesn’t follow that fewer responses = better post. This thread is an example: good post, lots of pointless comments.

  139. Miranda PJ on May 19, 2005 at 11:31 pm

    Sorry Jim F. My attempt to be clever did such violence to your original statement.

  140. Jim F on May 19, 2005 at 11:53 pm

    No problem. I wasn’t sure whether you intended cleverness or sarcasm. I voted for the wrong one. My apologies.