Pediatricians’ group says doctors should do more to fight heterosexism. Really?

A Washington Times article tells us about a new statement from the American Academy of Pediatricians (AAP): “In its first sexual-orientation policy update in nearly a decade, the nation’s largest pediatricians group said its members should do more to fight ‘heterosexism’ and ‘homophobia’.” … The AAP says, “Sexual-minority youth should not be considered abnormal” in its new materials on lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning (LGBTQ) youths.” But is this the totality of this statement universally accepted? And, is encouraging doctors to “do more to fight ‘hetersexism'” really wise advice?

Nope. As the the article points out, Christian physicians (and, I suspect, many other faith-based health professionals) have significant difficulty with portions of this new policy … objections which I share:

Leaders of smaller pediatricians groups said they agree that all patients should be treated with compassion, respect and quality care, but they do not believe that non-heterosexual orientations should be normalized. “That’s where we would disagree. Major, major disagreement,” said Dr. Den Trumbull, president of the American College of Pediatricians.

“It’s wrong for anyone to be bullied or mocked or stigmatized. At the same time — and I know this is heresy to the lesbian and gay community — I do not think we should normalize these kinds of behaviors and orientations,” said Dr. Jerry A. Miller Jr., a pediatrician in Augusta, Georgia who is chairman of CMDA’s (Christian Medical and Dental Associations) pediatric section.

“Teens can get involved in so many risky behaviors, especially regarding drugs, alcohol and sex,” said Dr. Miller. “As caring physicians, we want our patients to thrive, and we just don’t think that is going to occur in that [LGBTQ] lifestyle.”

In a statement for CMDA, Dr. Miller writes:

The technical report makes some statements that we can all agree with. Of course, physicians, and especially Christian physicians, should provide compassionate care for all of our patients. Of course, Christian physicians would not want any child bullied, stigmatized or mocked. Jesus is the most welcoming and accepting person in the universe, and His followers should welcome and receive all others.

There is no room for ‘homophobia.’ In addition, we are all concerned that LGBTQ children “have higher rates of depression and suicidal ideation, higher rates of substance abuse and more risky sexual behaviors.”

I strongly disagree, however, with some of the report’s key conclusions and implications:

  1. I object to the report’s attempt to normalize these sexual orientations. The Bible is explicit in the Genesis account (and Jesus later affirms and strengthens the idea) that marriage is between a man and a woman for life. Some elements of this marriage model are transparency, permanency, exclusivity, complementarity and oneness. Normative human sexuality is rooted and defined in the Bible, and is to be expressed only within a marriage between husband and wife. Therefore, polygamy, adultery, promiscuity, homosexuality, etc. are precluded.
  2. My role as a pediatrician is to recommend what is best for my patients and warn them of what is destructive. I want my patients to thrive. LGBTQ lifestyles are harmful and do not lead to human flourishing and thriving; biblical sexuality and marriage do. Therefore, accepting the person without affirming abnormal sexual orientation is the proper approach. Being nonjudgmental does not equal withholding the truth. Acting as if all sexual orientations and lifestyles are equivalent is not being truthful with our patients. Merely embracing these LBGTQ youth is not enough. Christian physicians must gently and lovingly guide them to a vision of biblical sexuality, and then help them see that deep and meaningful transformation for anyone occurs only through Jesus Christ. Though same-sex attraction may be a part of a person’s make-up for his/her entire life, transformation is possible (for all of us) through Jesus.
  3. I object to the idea that the significant problems of LGBTQ youth are due only to the rejection by others of their sexual orientation, i.e. ‘heterosexism.’ This may be a contributing factor, but we must take into account how much the lifestyle itself contributes. Prevention or early intervention seems to be key in helping these patients.
  4. The terms “sexual minority youth” and “heterosexism” used in the report seem to place the LGBTQ issue squarely in the realm of racial, sexual and ethnic discrimination, as if there were equivalence. The implication: unless you agree with the report that all forms of sexual expression are fine, then you are a heterosexist persecuting a minority. I disagree with this argument.

So, Dr. Miller, do I. For more information from CMDA on homosexuality and human sexuality, see the hyperlinks below:

There is, however, a concluding recommendation from the AAP in their statement with which I can strongly agree: “Help the adolescent think through his or her feelings carefully; strong same-sex feelings and even sexual experiences can occur at this age and do not define sexual orientation.” But, what to say to the teen who asks me, “Am I gay?” I answered this question, and gave parents my advice on how to do so, in two chapters I submitted for my book, “The Ultimate Guys’ Body Book: Not-so-stupid questions about your body“:

Unfortunately, the publisher refused to include these two chapters in the book when it was printed. But, you can read the two chapters here.

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