Tag Archives: research evidence

The Problem with “Gender Ideology”

One disturbing feature of the Catholic Bishops’ Synod Assembly on Marriage and Family, and in the Apostolic Exhortation “Amoris Laetitia” which followed, was a series of strenuous attacks on what was described as “gender ideology”. By this, the bishops seemed to mean anything that differed from conventional ideas about suitable roles for men and women, and about gender complementarity as the only basis for marriage. What they refer to as gender “ideology” is in practice, essentially just the gender theory – and the established evidence from the real world that ideas of “masculinity” and “feminity” are culturally determined, taking different forms in different societies around the world, and that not all biological males  (or females) show the same degree of “masculinity” (or feminity).

The real “ideology” here, is not that which is under attack by Catholic bishops, but the church’s own insistence that gender and biological sex are to equated. The dangers of gender stereotyping that results from this approach are severe, with damaging effects on children’s self-esteem, on limiting life choices for women especially but also for men, and on increased risks of bullying or worse, for gender non-conforming people.

Recent research published in Journal of Adolescent Health shows that across cultures, these stereotypes are ingrained as early as age 10.

Kids everywhere have damaging gender stereotyping set by age 10

Damaging gender stereotypes are ingrained from the age of 10. That is the conclusion of the first study to draw together data from high, middle and low-income countries across different cultures about how “tweenagers” perceive growing up as a boy or girl.

In many places, the pressure of these stereotypes leaves girls at higher risk of leaving school and experiencing earlypregnancy and sexual violence, and encourages reckless and risky behaviour in boys

New Scientist

The damage is more obvious for girls, but there are also risks resulting from this stereotyping for boys, too.

From the Atlanta Journal Constitution

Such gender-based restrictions on girls leave them at a greater risk of dropping out of school, pregnancy, child marriage and exposure to violence, depression, HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases.

In fact, compared to boys, girls are twice as likely to experience depression by the age of 16, according to the National Institutes of Health.

And while males are four times more likely to die from suicide than females, teen girls are more likely than teen boys to attempt suicide, according to the Atlanta-based Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

For boys, the hegemonic myth of being strong and independent generally puts them at a higher risk of falling victim to physical violence, according to researchers.

In countries such as China, India and the U.S., it has become increasingly acceptable for girls to challenge gender stereotypes, but boys can still deal with physical bullying for defying gender norms.

Researchers also found that not only do boys die more frequently than girls from unintentional injuries, and not only are they more prone to substance abuse and suicide, but as adults, their life expectancies are also shorter compared to women.

Such differences are socially not biologically determined,” study authors concluded.

The Catholic Church does not have a strong record of paying attention to the findings of science, in developing its ideas about marriage and family. t is to be hoped that this may now begin to change, with the upgrading of the John Paul II Institute for Marriage and Family, to an Institute to Marriage and Family Science.

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Study: Gay Adoptive Parents as Capable as Traditional Heterosexual Parents in Raising Children : News : Nature World News

Controversies surrounding the ability of same-sex couples in raising well-adjusted children have been under fire in the last few years. Conservatives argue that having same-sex individuals for parents have a negative impact in the development of a child. Nevertheless, it seems like scientific research negate this assumption.

sted children have been under fire in the last few years. Conservatives argue that having same-sex individuals for parents have a negative impact in the development of a child. Nevertheless, it seems like scientific research negate this assumption.

Source: Nature World News

The Science of Sexual Diversity (Assaf Report)

Diversity in Human Sexuality

Produced by the Association of Science in South Africa, this is an accessible but comprehensive interdisciplinary  guide to the science of sexuality, freely accessible on-line in PDF form.

The introduction to the report notes that while two thirds of the world no longer prohibits LGBTI relationships, some countries in Africa, and also Russia and India, are introducing new laws to prohibit homosexuality or its “promotion”. As much of the political push in Africa against homosexuality makes an appeal to science for support, its important that science investigate and accurately present the evidence.  It finds, as others have done, that these findings do not in any way justify social opposition.  On the contrary,

There is evidence that such new laws precipitate negative consequences not just for LGBTI persons and communities, but also for societies as a whole, including the rapid reversal of key public health gains, particularly in terms of HIV and AIDS and other sexual health programmes, increases in levels of social violence, some evidence of reduced economic growth, and the diversion of attention from sexual and other violence against women and children.

Criminalization of homosexuality thus does not protect society – it endangers it!

These findings are important too, to counter religious opposition from the Catholic Church, which claims to “respect” the findings of science – but totally ignores the science of sexuality and gender, which is that same-sex relationships are entirely natural and not in any way pathological or “abnormal”. Science also contradicts the Catholic Church’s presentation of human sexuality in simplistic binary terms:

Examining the biological factors, including genetic, neurohormonal and other factors, the report concludes that contemporary science does not support thinking about sexuality in a simple binary opposition of hetero/homosexual and normal/abnormal. Rather, it favours thinking in terms of a range of human variation, very little of which can justifiably be termed abnormal. As variation in sexual identities and orientations has always been part of a normal society, there can be no justification for attempts to ‘eliminate’ LGBTI from society.


Executive Summary

1 Introduction and Background
1.1 Terms and Concepts used in this Report
1.2 Understanding Sexual Orientation
1.3 Ethical and Human Rights Considerations

2 What is the Evidence that Biological Factors Contribute to Sexual and Gender Diversity? To what Degree is the Wide Diversity of Human Sexualities Explained by Biological Factors?
2.1 Family Studies
2.2 Twin Studies
2.3 Genetic Linkage and Full Genome Studies
2.4 Epigenetics: Early Evidence and Promising New Leads
2.5 Evolution and Genetics
2.6 Choice and Immutability
2.7 Pervasiveness and Frequency
2.8 Neurohormonal and Other Biomedical Theories: The State of the Science in 2015

3 Do Environmental Factors such as Upbringing and Socialisation Explain the Diversity of Human Sexuality?
3.1 The Development of ‘Homosexuality’ as a Category/Condition
3.2 Prominent Theories about the Role of Upbringing and Parenting in the Development of Same-Sex Orientation

4 Is there Any Evidence for Same-Sex Orientations being ‘Acquired’ through Contact with Others, i.e. through “Social Contagion”?

5 What Evidence is there that Any Form of Therapy or ‘Treatment’ can Change Sexual Orientation?

6 What Evidence is there that Same-Sex Orientations Pose a Threat of Harm to Individuals, Communities, or Vulnerable Populations such as Children?

7 What are the Public Health Consequences of Criminalising Same- Sex Sexual Orientations, and Attempting to Regulate the Behaviour/ Relationships Related to Some Sexualities Orientations?

8 What Research can be Conducted to Address the Most Critical Unanswered Scientific Research Questions Regarding the Diversity of Human Sexualities and Sexual Orientations in Africa?

9 Conclusion
9.1 Role of Biological Factors
9.2 Role of Environmental Factors
9.3 Acquisition of Sexual Orientation through Social Contagion
9.4 Change of Same-Sex Orientation through Therapy
9.5 Threat Posed by Same-Sex Individuals
9.6 Public Health Consequences of Criminalising Same-Sex Orientations

Adoption Agency Appeals for More Gay Adoptive Fathers.

As we approach Father’s Day, a British adoption charity  is encouraging gay men to apply as adoptive dads – so that next year, some of the 6000 kids waiting for adoptive parents, will have a dad to celebrate. Sir Tony Hawkhead, chief executive of Action for Children, said:

In the UK there are 6,000 children waiting to be adopted and we know that gay men can make loving fathers.

If more people came forward we would be able to help give loving homes to thousands of children.

We need to make sure that everyone knows that they can adopt – so by next year many more will celebrate their first Father’s Day

via  – ITV News.

Source: Wikipedia

The Catholic Church and others opposed to adoption by gay men and lesbians, make claims such as that a child needs (or has a right to) a mother and a father, and that we must always put the best interests of the child before the selfish desires of those wanting children. These claims (they hardly qualify as rational arguments) completely miss the point.

Even if it were true that children do better when raised by two opposite sex parents (a claim which is contradicted by research comparing like with like family composition), the issue for many children awaiting adoption is not whether they should have opposite – sex or same – sex parents, but whether they can have the chance of any parents at all, or none. The simple fact that we have 6000 kids waiting to be placed is tragic evidence both that they their own, biological parents (of difference sexes) have been unable to give them suitable care, and also that where adoptive parents are available, the children who are most easily placed, are usually young, healthy babies. Older children, those with severe health problems, or behavioural difficulties (possibly resulting from earlier neglect by unsuitable opposite – sex couples) are left at the back of the queue.  To exclude all same – sex couples from parenting, some of whom have demonstrated extraordinary willingness to take on the most troubled children, and make a real difference in their lives, is to condemn some kids to no parents at all, putting simple sexual ideology ahead of the true best interests of the child.


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UK Bishops Rejecting Church Teaching?

Once again, the Catholic Church, in defending its dogma, is in practice going against its own teaching.  The BBC has reported that the UK bishops have “reacted angrily” to a speech by Terry Pendergast, of Marriage Care, in a speech this past weekend to Quest.


The Roman Catholic Church has reacted angrily to comments endorsing gay parenthood from a charity with strong links to the Church.

Terry Prendergast of Marriage Care, which is partly funded by the Church, said there was no evidence children were harmed by having same-sex parents.

Continue reading UK Bishops Rejecting Church Teaching?