UPDATE: Tribune Media has now apologized for allowing this column to run as it was written:
A column distributed by Tribune Media Services, Inc., by Cal Thomas, for release Nov. 15, 2011, headlined "Penn State's Shame and Ours," contained questionable analogies between the Penn State child-sexual abuse scandal and the lives of gays and lesbians. TMS in no way sees a connection between the two and regrets that the column could be interpreted in this fashion. Society's evolving and enlightened view of gay men and lesbians has no connection with any potential trend in attitudes toward child sexual abuse; nor should any suggestion be made that homosexuals are likely to be pedophiles, which is refuted by research. The rigorous checks and balances at TMS normally in place to review the accuracy and suitability of column material did not work in this case. TMS apologizes for the error.
Nationally syndicated columnist Cal Thomas is known for many things but being informed on LGBT issues certainly isn’t one of them.
In his most recent column, Thomas discussed the tragedy that has befallen the Penn State community, but instead of focusing his attention on the lives of the victims involved, or even the issue of child abuse, he used the story of one straight man to make misleading claims against lesbian, gay and bisexual individuals, based on false and outdated stereotypes.
Thomas, who regularly appears on the Fox News Channel, was weighing in on the national discussion in which several at-risk young men claim to have been sexually assaulted by Penn State assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky. Instead of talking about the importance of making sure all children have safe and nurturing relationships, Thomas began attacking both the American Psychological Association (APA) for “removing the stigma of mental illness that has long been associated with lesbian, gay and bisexual orientation,” and the religious community for fostering an “increasingly secular and anomalous society where everything is to be tolerated.”
The notion that being lesbian, gay, or bisexual is a psychological disorder was discredited by the American Psychological Association in 1973. The Association, which is the largest scientific and professional organization of psychologists in the United States and the world, rejects the anti-gay implications being repeated here by Thomas, saying: “there is no reliable evidence that homosexual orientation per se impairs psychological functioning.” The APA also says that anti-gay claims like these are “generally grounded in prejudice against, and stereotypes about, gay people.” (In keeping, Thomas’ assertion that the growing support for equality among faith leaders fosters an "increasingly secular and anomalous society where everything is to be tolerated” is also out of touch and inaccurate. The truth remains that an increasing number of the faithful are accepting their LGBT family and friends because of their religion, and not despite it.)
Immediately after being notified of this anti-gay rhetoric, GLAAD reached out to Tribune Media, which distributes this column, to explain the problem with connecting allegations of sexual assault to the LGBT community. We'll keep this blog updated as new information becomes available.