Did the leading association of pediatricians say schools are forcing kids to be gay?

David Barton says they did (via Right Wing Watch).

On his radio program Friday, August 5, Barton told his co-host Rick Green that the “leading pediatric association in America” wrote a letter to the superintendents of all the nation’s public schools warning them to stop indocrinating students in homosexuality. Barton said the pediatricians told the educators:

If you’ll just let this develop naturally, they’ll end up being heterosexual unless you force them to be homosexual.

The only part of this narrative that is correct is that school superintendents got a letter from some pediatricians about homosexuality. Everything else is wrong.

First, the only group that sent a letter to school superintendents with this kind of information was the American College of Pediatricians, a small group of socially conservative pediatricians and other interested people. In 2003, the group broke away from the 60,000+ member American Academy of Pediatrics due to disputes over homosexuality and abortion.

On their website, ACPeds says they have members in 47 states and five countries. I cannot find any information about how many members they have and others I know who have asked them the number say they have not gotten a response.  If the group reports their membership dues income properly, then the number of pediatrician members is very small, probably less than 200.

ACPEDS IRS 990 form reports $38,380 in membership dues and assessments for 2009, the most recent year for which a 990 is available on Guidestar. According to the ACPeds website, the dues is $225/year.  If all members were pediatricians and paid that fee, then ACPEDS would have around 170 members. However, because ACPEDS probably has various member categories including people who pay nothing (honorary, student, etc.) and some who pay only $100 (associate health professionals who are not physicians), I guess they had between 200-25o members in all categories in 2009. 

In contrast, as noted above, the American Academy of Pediatrics (the real leading pediatric  association in America) has 60,000 members. Barton and Green clearly portrayed a false situation; namely, that the AAP recently sent a letter to school superintendents saying that same-sex attracted teens will grow out of it if only schools wouldn’t indoctrinate them with pro-gay propaganda.

Right Wing Watch has much of what Barton and Green had to say about the letter (which actually was sent in April, 2010, not recently) but I am providing even more context because I want to demonstrate just how misleading this segment is. Barton and Green had just expressed pleasure about how the state legislature in TN overruled an ordinance in Nashville which would have banned discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. He follows this by blaming the National Education Association for indoctrinating kids with pro-gay material. Then, at about 17:40 into the show, Barton sets the stage for his segment on the ACPeds letter:

Barton: What’s interesting is, you know medical groups do not tend to be very conservative. Any professional medical group, the American Psychiatric Association, the association of psychologists, even the American Medical Association is a particularly friendly conservative group, they’re not a pro-life group and what’s really interesting is the American College of Pediatricians; now think about that, is that a conservative group?

Green: You’d think they would be, looking out for the kids, right?

Barton: But yeah, don’t spank your kid, don’t touch your kid, you know, and think of the way pediatric stuff has gone, and you don’t want to help shape these kids, let ‘em be what they want to be. And so, all that anti-parental influence, and it’s remarkable that you have the American College of Pediatricians, who has just, they sent a letter to all 14,800 school superintendents in the United States and it’s a letter warning about what’s happening in the schools and the American College of Pediatricians is cautioning educators about what they do with same-sex attraction or symptoms of gender identity confusion in schools.

Green: You’re kidding, this is the pediatric association?

Barton: Got it, get this. The letter reminds school superintends that it is ‘not uncommon for adolescents to experience transient,’ that’s a big word, ‘transient confusion about their sexual orientation,’ and is telling 14,800 superintendents that ‘most students will ultimately adopt a heterosexual orientation if not otherwise encouraged.’ And they’re saying, guys, back off. This indoctrination you’re doing—

You can read the rest at Right Wing Watch.  Listening to this, there seems to be only two possibilities. One, Barton really thinks the ACPeds is the American Academy of Pediatrics and is so misinformed that he doesn’t really understand that the ACPeds is a tiny breakaway group; or two, he knows the difference but wants to make his listeners think that mainstream pediatricians would give that kind of advice to school leaders.

A reader who tipped me off to this story wrote Barton for an explanation and I will report which one of these options is the accurate situation if Barton answers.

For now, it is apparent that Barton badly misled his audience, some of whom are going to oppose anti-bullying programs because they trust Barton to pass along good information. Everybody makes mistakes but I think we should expect more from an adviser to Michele Bachmann, Newt Gingrich, and Rick Perry. I shudder to think about Barton advising them as GOP candidates or one of them as President on school policy relating to bullying or sexual orientation.

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  • Bernie

    Warren, Thank you once again.

    I don’t believe in my heart of hearts that these two guys are confused at all with the difference between the AAP, and ACPeds. There are devious and crafty and know exactly what they are doing. They are trying to portray ACPeds as a credible org upon a uninformed listening audience. In the eyes and ears of the apparatchiks that listen to Barton and his sidekick, they believe him. After all, Isn’t this Barton an ordained minister. Now, why would a minister provide misleading info to his peeps? Hmmmmm……………? Could it be that ‘he’ has an agenda himself. Perhaps that agenda could be to spread as much misinformation, in the hopes of propagating hate through fear, born out of ignorance and lies. Such the Christian!

  • Geo F.

    following up on Bernie…Warren, I applaud your courtesy extended toward the possibility of giving Mr. Barton the benefit of the doubt. I, for one, can not do the same. Given his 20 plus years of spewing exactly these same kind of sly distortions, aimed purely at promoting his own agenda; the possibility of his ignorance on the distinction between the groups is remote beyond comprehension. I wouldn’t put it past him for having had a direct hand in the creation of the ACPeds. The man has zero scruples. How he maintains such apparent credibility within his circle boggles the mind. There has been SO much that has been written about his purposefully misleading and incorrect statements…and yet they continue to continue.

  • Frank

    Does the ACP deliberately represent itself in a way that would encourage the ACP to be confused with the AAP? If so, the AAP needs to get lawyered up and to send a cease and desist order to the ACP.

  • StraightGrandmother

    What Bernie said!!!

    What is your e-mail address Warren? Is it on this blog somewhere? I get tips I can send you, I read a wide variety of media. In fact I remember reading that letter when it was first mailed out and I cried FOUL. The American College of Pediatricians is astroturf exactly like The National Organization for Marriage is Astroturf. NOM has 5 Big Donors, the rest is astroturf http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Astroturfing

    It is all smoke and mirrors

  • http://www.boxturtlebulletin.com Timothy Kincaid

    I really can’t think that Barton would have gone on and on about how liberal pediatricians are if he hadn’t gotten AAP confused with ACPeds. And that, of course, was exactly what ACPeds wanted.

    So Barton wasn’t lying, necessarily.

    However, this does illustrate the beauty of the Big Ten. There the act prohibited was ‘bearing false witness’. And ‘false witness’ is not limited to what you know to be untruthful. Rather, it includes that which you bring witness about.

    So whenever a preacher or commentator or “historian” makes a claim of fact, it cannot be based on “gosh I thought”. If he doesn’t know for sure what he’s baring witness to by first hand knowledge, then he’d better find out before he makes that claim.

    Barton brought witness of an event. It was false witness. He didn’t know and he didn’t bother to find out. That makes it sin. David Barton sinned against pediatricians, the AAP, and the gay community.

    I very much doubt that he’ll care.

  • Lynn David

    Barton likes his drama.

  • DAVE G

    Rather than bashing Barton for his misstatement, I would rather evaluate, scientifically, ACPeds’ position paper on The Teenage Brain –apparently a follow-up to support their letter to superintendents. Much of what they have to say corresponds with my own observations in working with youth.

    I really don’t care how few or how many are saying whatever. What matters is “what are the scientifically reliable facts?”

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  • Jayhuck

    Dave G -

    So you’re saying you like science when its coming from groups like ACP but not from other places?

  • DAVE G

    On the contrary, Jay, I evaluate the scientific integrity of all claims, and try to disassociate them from in-house politics as well as party ideologies. There are too many nebulous terms used regarding homosexuality that need to be broken down to specific biological, physiological, psychological, and sociological elements. Too uch data is based on subjective feedback from obviously biased or peer-influenced subjects.

    This issue has a number of well-structured studies on both sides, some of which, however, propose conclusions not supported by their own data. I also have to compare results to my own academic and counseling experience. I can’t just throw my trust toward any favored group.

  • DAVE G

    OOPs! That’s “…too much data…” (Last sentence of 1st paragraph.)

  • http://www.boxturtlebulletin.com Timothy Kincaid

    Dave G,

    I really don’t care how few or how many are saying whatever. What matters is “what are the scientifically reliable facts?”

    Okie dokie. Let’s look at their facts

    http://www.boxturtlebulletin.com/2010/04/05/21620

    Oh, but don’t take my word for it. Let’s ask the source of a big chunk of their claims

    http://www.boxturtlebulletin.com/2010/04/05/21620

  • Jayhuck

    Dave G -

    This issue has a number of well-structured studies on both sides, some of which, however, propose conclusions not supported by their own data. I also have to compare results to my own academic and counseling experience. I can’t just throw my trust toward any favored group.

    I don’t disagree with having a healthy dose of skepticism. For example, I am skeptical of your desire for balance since it seems many of your posts tend to favor small ideological and religious groups that have a well documented history of skewing other peoples’ research to support their own belief systems, not in reporting facts.

  • Ken

    “transient,’ that’s a big word,”

    when I read this part I couldn’t help be imagine Barton saying this in an elmo voice:

    “transient, that’s a big word. Can you spell “transient”.. t-r-a-n-s…”

  • http://www.exgaywatch.com Emily K

    I think oftentimes “party politics” becomes defined by those who are looking for said politics.

    So a scientific organization that concludes homosexuality is not innately harmful, is naturally occurring, and cannot be altered, is labeled “liberal” because apparently only liberals can think such things.

  • Mary

    So a scientific organization that concludes homosexuality is not innately harmful, is naturally occurring, and cannot be altered, is labeled “liberal” because apparently only liberals can think such things.

    I don’t know? I vote very liberally, support marriage equality etc… etc… but I am an ex gay who interprets the bible in a conservative way.

    Makes me just a person.

  • Mary

    Oh! And I don’t think homosexuality is innately harmful.

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  • DAVE G

    Tim,

    After a busy weekend I got to read your entry with two identical links to a BoxTurtle article that is hardly a source for facts. I see a lot of PC reiterations of gay rhetoric,

    a peppering of actualities (dates, actions, etc.) but very little reliable scientific facts regarding the nature of homosexuality. There is, however, quite a bit of negative opinion regarding ACPeds, which is to be expected from BoxTurtle.

  • Teresa

    but very little reliable scientific facts regarding the nature of homosexuality

    Dave G., what are some reliable, scientific facts regarding the nature of homosexuality?

  • William

    Dave G, I agree that the Box Turtle Bulletin article doesn’t give us many reliable scientific facts regarding the nature of homosexuality, nor is it the aim of the article to do so. What it does give us is many facts about the American College of Pediatricians – notably that what the ACP presents as scientific facts regarding the nature of homosexuality are no such thing, but mere dogmas, and that it has attempted to manufacture spurious evidence for those dogmas by misrepresenting the research and opinions of others.

  • Jayhuck

    David G -

    After a busy weekend I got to read your entry with two identical links to a BoxTurtle article that is hardly a source for facts. I see a lot of PC reiterations of gay rhetoric,

    a peppering of actualities (dates, actions, etc.) but very little reliable scientific facts regarding the nature of homosexuality. There is, however, quite a bit of negative opinion regarding ACPeds, which is to be expected from BoxTurtle.

    Please, by all means, if you can refute what is on Box Turle then please do, but don’t just dismiss it as “rhetoric” without any facts to back up what you are saying. BTB provided facts, you however, are providing the rhetoric.

  • ken

    DAVE G# ~ Aug 15, 2011 at 4:17 pm

    “I see a lot of PC reiterations of gay rhetoric, a peppering of actualities (dates, actions, etc.) but very little reliable scientific facts regarding the nature of homosexuality. There is, however, quite a bit of negative opinion regarding ACPeds, which is to be expected from BoxTurtle.”

    that’s because the links Timothy gave you weren’t addressing the nature of homosexuality, but rather the “scientific integrity” of the ACP (and people like Barton who rely on orgs like ACP).

    Now if you feel Timothy has misinterpreted or misrepresented something about the ACP, feel free to point that out, I’m sure he would have no problem providing additional references or going into detail about a specific claim he made.

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  • adam b

    Thanks for this. David Barton is such the Christian. man isn’t he? Just a non stop liar and fabricator of false information. You can look at their website and tell they are a shoddy fake organization of kooky doctors – and not many of them.


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