Dozens of Experts Dispel Anti-Gay Activists' Myth About Gay BSA Leaders

After anti-gay activists began claiming that opening the Boy Scouts to openly gay scouts and leaders would put kids in danger, more than 120 experts from the fields of sex abuse prevention, psychology, social work, psychiatry, child advocacy, faith outreach, criminology, education and coaching have co-signed an open letter to concerned parents and educators this week, and the list is still growing.

Following the Boy Scouts of America’s announcement that it would consider lifting the organization’s discriminatory ban on gay scouts and leaders, many anti-gay activists have insinuated, implied, or even overtly claimed that youth would be at risk if there were gay people in positions of authority. Such claims rely on false and offensive stereotypes about gay people and the sexual abuse of minors that have been widely discredited and dismissed by experts.

The letter directly addresses and dispels the myths being put forward in the media by anti-gay activists, who are seeking to scare parents and educators by telling them that children and minors will be less safe with gay men than they would be with straight men.

The letter is co-signed by organizations invested in the welfare of children and minors including the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN), National Alliance for Youth Sports, Texas Association Against Sexual Assault, Chicago Alliance Against Sexual Exploitation, New Jersey Coalition Against Sexual Assault, and individuals including APA Distinguished Fellow Jack Drescher and dozens of other experts from the fields of psychology, forensic psychology, education, social work, and medical practice.

If you or your organization wish to co-sign this letter, you can do so here.

You can contact the Boy Scouts and tell them to end the ban here.

You can see a timeline of some of the most significant milestones in the decades-long effort to get this ban overturned, including highlights from GLAAD's involvement, here.

The letter states:

There is no link between gay people and the sexual abuse of minors

Dear concerned parents and educators,

Our nation’s leaders and experts have rightly decided over the last several decades that our children are not at greater risk when openly gay people are placed in positions of authority over youth. Openly gay people are our children’s trusted teachers, coaches, nurses, caregivers, chaperones, babysitters, clergy, and counselors.

It is important that parents and educators understand that sexual abuse is about power, not attraction.

Gay people are no more likely to abuse children, and pose no more of a threat to our young people, than the general population.

This has been accepted among experts for decades:

  • In 1978, researchers studied 175 adult males who were convicted in Massachusetts of sexual assault against a child. 47% were classified as "fixated;" 40% were classified as regressed adult heterosexuals; 13% were classified as regressed adult bisexuals. None were classified as gay.
  • In 1989 researchers in Canada measured the actual arousal of various groups of men when viewing certain photos. They found that gay men were no more attracted to young boys than straight men were to young girls.
  • In 1991 researchers surveying sex abuse victims in Denver found that only 2% of them had been victimized by someone who identified as gay or lesbian.

There has been hardly any research done in the decades since, because this is a settled issue among experts.

Often, those who oppose gay people will claim or imply that there is a connection between gay people and sexual abuse, in an effort to curtail efforts by the gay community to gain acceptance.

We, the undersigned, speak as some of America’s leading voices for child advocacy and welfare. We want to assure America’s concerned parents and educators that minors are as safe with gay people as they are with straight people. Claims to the contrary stem from a place of general opposition to homosexuality, rather than from actual expertise on the topic of sexual abuse of minors.


Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network (RAINN)

Christina Ricci,
Actress & RAINN Spokesperson

KaDee Strickland,
Actress & RAINN Spokesperson

Adam Richman  
TV Host & RAINN Supporter

Victim Rights Law Center
Boston, MA

Jack Drescher, MD
President, Group for Advancement of Psychiatry
Distinguished Fellow of the American Psychiatric Association

The Rev. Brian D. Ellison,
Executive Director,
Covenant Network of Presbyterians

Idit Klein,
Executive Director,

Rev. Dr. Cindi Love,
Executive Director,

Ohio Alliance to End Sexual Violence

Andrew G. Lang,
Executive Director,
Open and Affirming Ministries,
United Church of Christ

Rape Victim Advocates
Chicago, IL

Dr. Jamie Ann Meyers,
Professor Emerita,
Winona State University

James Renola, LCSW

The Ben Cohen StandUp Foundation

Barry J. Richman, MD

Susan Rankin, Ph.D.
Principal, Rankin & Associates, Consulting
Associate Professor, Education, Penn State University (Retired)

Campus Pride

Bishop Tonyia M. Rawls
Prelate of the Southern Jurisdiction
Unity Fellowship Church Movement and Pastor of Unity Fellowship Church Charlotte

National Center for Lesbian Rights

Lee Crespi, LCSW

Stanley E Harris, MD DFAPA
Clinical Professor of Psychiatry and the Behavioral Sciences,
Keck School of Medicine, University of Southern California
Chair, Southern California Psychiatric Society Committee on GLB Issues

Steven S. Sharfstein, M.D.
 President and CEO,
Sheppard Pratt

Ronald E Hellman, MD

Mindy MacDougall. LCSW
Licensed Clinical Social Worker
Salt Lake City, Utah

Crystal Steltenpohl,
Graduate Student, Department of Psychology,
Southern Illinois University Carbondale

Peace Over Violence
Los Angeles, CA

Michele Schwartz, M.A. LCSW

Pat Griffin Ed.D.
Professor Emerita
UMass Amherst

April Riney, ACMHC

Kye Allums
#IMEnough Project

Johanna Tiemann, Ph.D.

Rev. Moonhawk River Stone, M.S., LMHC,
Psychotherapist, private practice.

Dr. Rob Nilson

Marianne Duddy-Burke
Executive Director, DignityUSA

Lourdes Rodriguez-Nogues, Ed.D.
President, DignityUSA

Dr. Jay Michaelson
Director, Nehirim

Most Rev. Mark Shirilau, Ph.D.
Archbishop and Primate, The Ecumenical Catholic Church

Sarah Rothstein, CSW

Macky Alston
Vice President for Strategy, Engagement and Media,
Auburn Seminary

Dr. Maya A. Poran

Rev. Mark C. Johnston, Ph.D.
(Eagle Scout)
Licensed Psychologist, Christian Church (Disciples of Christ)

Bernhard Bruno Zinkgraf
(Eagle Scout)
Community of Saint Benedict

Jennifer McDonald, PhD

Christian Huygen, Ph.D.
Executive Director
Rainbow Heights Club and Heights-Hill Mental Health Service
South Beach Psychiatric Center Community Advisory Board, Inc.

Judith Clarke, LCSW

William Womack, MD

Michael I Loewy, Ph.D.
Clinical PHD Program Director Fellow,
Rockway Institute
California School of Professional Psychology at Alliant International University

Margaret Nichols, Ph.D.
Executive Director
Institute for Personal Growth

Paul J Rinaldi, PhD,
Licensed Clinical Psychologist

Jessica Harbaugh

Jennifer Bevan LCMHC, NCC
Salt Lake City Utah

Michèle M. Schlehofer, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor of Psychology,
Salisbury University

Darkness to Light
Charleston, SC

Lynne C. Rustad, PhD

Joseph P Merlino, MD, MPA,
Professor of Psychiatry,
 SUNY Downstate School of Medicine

Dr. Carmen Cruz, Psy.D, Licensed Psychologist

Abraham L. Halpern, MD,
Professor Emeritus of Psychiatry,
New York Medical College

Gerry Weinberger, Ph.D.
Licensed Clinical Psychologist
Ashland, VA

Jay Frankel, Ph.D,
Adjunct Clinical Associate Professor,
Postdoctoral Program in Psychoanalysis and Psychotherapy,
New York University.

Marianne T. Guschwan,
M.D. Clinical Assistant Professor of Psychiatry,
New York University School of Medicine,
New York County District Branch of the American Psychiatric Association

Erin Buzuvis
Western New England University School of Law
Center for Gender & Sexuality Studies

Victoria Pollock, RSW

Catherine J. Massey, PhD,
 Associate Professor of Psychology,
Slippery Rock University

Dr. Jason C. Baker
Assistant Professor of Medicine
Cornell University
New York, NY

The Rev. Debra W. Haffner,
Religious Institute, Inc.

Francis DeBernardo,
Executive Director,
New Ways Ministry

Markus P. Bidell, PhD, LMHC,  
Associate Professor of Counseling,  
Hunter College

Sherry Katz-Bearnot, MD

Paige Holliman, M.Ed., M.T.S., LPC/MHSP
Licensed Professional Counselor
Holliman Psychotherapy Services

Paul Joannides, Psy.D.

Gregory N. Shrader, Ph.D.
Professor, Clinical Psychology
Associate Director of Clinical Training
Arizona School of Professional Psychology
Argosy University

Jennifer Mijangos, LCSW
Oncology Social Worker
Salt Lake City, UT

Helen H. Hsu, Psy.D.
Clinical Supervisor
City of Fremont - Human Services Department Youth & Family Services

Joyce Hunter, DSW
Research Scientist/Assistant Clinical Professor
Global Community Core
HIV Center for Clinical and Behavioral Studies/NYSPI/Columbia University

Chicago Alliance Against Sexual Exploitation

Anna Aagenes
Executive Director
GO! Athletes

Texas Association Against Sexual Assault

Gary Collins MD

William S. Meyer, MSW, BCD
Associate Clinical Professor
Departments of Psychiatry and Ob/Gyn
Duke University Medical Center

Steve Goldstein, MD

Leticia Y. Flores, PhD, LCP
Associate Professor
Director, VCU Center for Psychological Services & Development

Mary Beth Heller, Ph.D., LCP, NCSP

Dr. Richard C. Pillar
Professor of Psychiatry
Boston University School of Medicine

Julia A. McAninch, Psy.D.
Licensed Clinical Psychologist

Fred Engh
National/International Alliance for Youth Sports

Dulcinea Pitagora

Professor Eric Anderson
University of Winchester

Patrice LaMariana, L.P.

Sally Moskowitz, Ph.D.
Faculty and Fellow,
The Institute for Psychoanalytic Training and Research

Nadav Antebi
Graduate Student
Columbia University

Curley Bonds, MD
Health Sciences Clinical Professor of Psychiatry,
David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA
Associate Professor and Chair,

Department of Psychiatry and Human Behavior
Charles R. Drew University of Medicine and Science
Medical Director,
Didi Hirsch Mental Health Scrtvices Los Angeles, California

Dr. Judith A. Kramer
Licensed Clinical Psychologist
Colts Neck, NJ

Stephen Nadeau, MD

New York State Coalition Against Sexual Assault

Melissa Boege
Graduate Student
Monmouth University

Joanne Belknap, Ph.D.
Professor of Sociology
Problem Behaviors
Institute of Behavioral Sciences
University of Colorado

Maine Coalition Against Sexual Assault

OAASIS (Oregon Abuse Advocates & Survivors in Service)

Robert Agnew, PhD
Professor of Sociology
Emory University

Bill Burmester, LMFT
Weekend of Recovery Facilitator

Mike Lew
The Next Step Counseling & Training
Author: "Victims No Longer: The Classic Guide for Men Recovering from Sexual Child Abuse"

Take Back the Night 2013 - Phoenix

The Reverend Anne Fowler
St. John's Episcopal Church

Male Survivors of Sexual Abuse
Christchurch, New Zealand

Lisa Blum, Psy.D.
Licensed Clinical psychologist
Los Angeles, CA

Accurate Accountability Outpatient
Salt Lake City, UT

Thomas Harrigan
Next Step Counseling

Karlyn Salazar
Former BSA Den Mother
Centerville, UT

Dr Nathan Smith
Assistant Professor
Department of Educational and Counselling Psychology
McGill University

South African Male Survivors Of Sexual Abuse
Johannesburg, South Africa

Howard Fradkin, Ph.D.
Psychologist and Author
Columbus, OH

Stuart Drescher, Ph.D
Licensed Psychologist
Salt Lake City, UT

National Council of Jewish Women

Integrity USA

Jessica Forshee, Ph.D.
McKinney, TX

Vermont Network Against Domestic and Sexual Violence

Lori C. Bohm, Ph.D.

End Violence Against Women International (EVAWI)

Illinois Coalition Against Sexual Assault

Br{ache the Silence Campaign

Maryland Coalition Against Sexual Assault.

Gurmeet Kanwal, M.D.

Kelli Hanlon LCSW
Chicago, IL

Dr. Jacqueline S. Weinstock
Associate Professor, Human Development & Family Studies
University of Vermont

Judith C. Powell, Ph.D.
Cary, NC 27511