How times have changed. Fathers of the Church joined ancient philosophers in considering men with homosexual desires more apt to seduce boys. Today, these ancient warnings have been cast aside as nothing more than (bigoted, homophobic) old wives' tales. Consider psychiatrist Thomas Plante, residing scholar at Santa Clara University and adjunct professor at the Stanford University School of Medicine. America published an essay by Dr. Plante in October 2018, entitled 'No, Homosexuality is Not a Risk Factor for the Sexual Abuse of Children'. In it, he decries the belief that "banning homosexual men from the priesthood" would help prevent sexual victimization in the church. Instead, "it is often falsely believed that men with homosexual orientations cannot be trusted around male children and that their sexual impulse control is poor." Indeed, Plante argues that "sexual orientation is not a risk factor at all," contrary to the common sense notion that homosexuals must be to blame, especially since 80% of victims were boys.
As there is almost always some evidence for common beliefs, how can Plante dismiss this one with such assurance? In 1973, Saghir and Robins reported on interviews and evaluations of 89 gay males from homosexual enclaves who volunteered for the study to show how 'normal' and well adjusted they were. Originally, 104 homosexuals were to be evaluated, but 15 (14%) of the anticipated sample was eliminated because they had been "hospitalized for psychiatric reasons," e.g., for depression, alcoholism, etc. The remaining gay sample was compared against a group of 35 divorced or never married heterosexual males. Even with the pruning of the sample, gays more frequently: 1) had criminal records; 2) received 'less than honorable' military discharges; 3) had been fired; 4) had substance abuse problems; and 5) had attempted suicide (7% of gays vs. none of the straights). In addition, the gay subjects were more frequently 6) involved in prostitution, while having 7) more sex partners; and 8) more frequent psychiatric disorders and disability.
Directly bearing on Plante's claim, 15% of gays vs. no straights admitted to being arrested for contributing to the delinquency of a minor. In 2015, a U.S. federal survey replicated elements of Saghir and Robins, as well as a similar federal survey in 1996, of more frequent participation by gays in: 1) criminality, including sex offenses, 2) drug use, and 3) driving under the influence. While these surveys were not of priests per se, nor were the kinds of sex offenses made explicit, the evidence might give one pause. Did Plante remove his 'scholar hat' when he asserted that sexual orientation is not "at all" a risk factor?Admissions by Homosexuals
In the original Alfred Kinsey survey, 36% of 646 gays reported sex with those aged 16 or younger (14% with boys under age 14), while they themselves were 18 or older. In San Francisco in 1969-70, the Kinsey Institute did a follow-up in which 671 gays were asked the proportions of their homosexual partners who "were 16 or younger when you were 21 or older." 77% of the respondents said "none," 23% said "half or less," and none said "more than half." In The Gay Report, an anonymous questionnaire survey of 4,329 volunteer gays, approximately 22% reported sex with boys. And, as noted above, Saghir and Robins found 15% of their gay sample said they had been arrested for contributing to the delinquency of a minor.In these surveys, the proportion of male homosexuals admitting to sexual abuse of boys ranged from 15% to 35%. In three of these surveys, respondents admitted in face-to-face interviews to perhaps the most condemned sexual activity in our culture – making it likely that even more actually did. But none of these investigations involved a random population sample.
One national area probability survey regarding childhood sexual experiences with adults permitted a direct comparison between heterosexuals and homosexuals. 19.5% of 298 men with either homosexual experience in adulthood and/or who called themselves gay or bisexual reported that their first physical homosexual contact with an "adult homosexual" (e.g., aged 18 or older) occurred before they were aged 14, while 32.3% of these 'gays' said their first homosexual sex with an adult homosexual occurred before the age of 16. In contrast, 3.3% of 1,758 heterosexual men (with no adult homosexual experience) and 5.5% of 2,768 heterosexual women (with no adult homosexual experience) reported that their first physical contact with "an adult heterosexual" occurred before they were aged 14. 11.9% and 14.9% of these straight men and women, respectively, reported that their first heterosexual contact with an adult occurred before age 16.The same survey found a substantial difference in the relative proportions of homosexuals and heterosexuals claiming as adults to having had pre-teen or teenage sexual partners. 2.3% of 1,706 currently heterosexual men and 0.54% of 2,376 currently heterosexual women reported that the age of their youngest heterosexual partner was 13 or under while they themselves were 18 years or older. In contrast, 9.4% of 203 men currently claiming to be either gay or bisexual reported that the "age of their youngest homosexual partner was 13 or younger." Similarly, 11.7% of heterosexual men and 1.3% of heterosexual women reported their youngest heterosexual partner was 15 or under (when they themselves were 18 or older), compared to 16.7% of homosexual men who said the same.
Overall, men claiming a homo/bisexual preference or experience were more likely to report either experiencing sex with an adult while underage, or having sex with a child as an adult, than their straight counterparts.
John Jay Study of U.S. Priests
Unlike claims from a survey, the John Jay perpetrators were caught. Nearly 4% of U.S. Catholic priests were documented to have molested at least one minor, and nearly 80% of the molestations by priests involved boys. Plante attributes these results to priests being "situational generalists," willing to molest the most available party, as opposed to their having homosexual desires. In fact, he claims that "most of the clergy sex offenders during the last half of the 20th century... viewed themselves as more likely to be heterosexual than as homosexual."
Unless Professor Plante and the authors of the John Jay Report are mind readers, no one knows whether otherwise 'heterosexual' priests (i.e., sexually attracted to females) would choose to force or sexually gratify themselves upon males, despite a lack of homosexual interests. Perhaps their homosexual attractions went unreported or were not admitted due to shame, guilt, or other reasons. More broadly, what other human characteristic is not defined by habitual or actual behavior? Smokers are those who smoke, not those with merely some theoretical interest in smoking. Nor do we deny that someone is a smoker if they smoke but say they have no interest in smoking. Similarly, a rapist is someone who has raped. It does not matter whether they deny any interest in, or attraction to, raping.
Behaviorally, we know that the vast majority of the sexual abuse behavior among priests was homosexual. And we know that a large fraction of Catholic priests over the past 50 years or so apparently are/were homosexual. Even Dr. Plante suggests between "22% to 45%" of U.S. priests are "gay". So not only does common sense suggest that priests who sexually abuse boys are, by common parlance, homosexual, but there is also a highly suggestive natural correspondence between the preponderance of same-sex CSA and the large fraction of gay priests.Arbitrary distinctions between so-called pedophilia and 'adult' sexual attractions do not solve the problem. 53% of the sexually abused victims were over age 12 – about as virile as any adult. As any heterosexual male knows, there is no 'magic cutoff' at 18 or 21 where adult heterosexual attraction suddenly 'kicks in,' but which is absent toward girls any younger. Homosexuality is no different.
And there is no inherent contradiction between the assertion that most priests are not gay, and the notion that homosexual priests are much more likely than heterosexual priests to sexually abuse minors. Consider Table 1, which lists a range of possible proportions of homosexual priests. Assuming that those who molested boys had homosexual interests (since the sexual activity was same-sex), while those who molested girls had heterosexual interests, it is possible to estimate what proportions of homosexual and heterosexual priests were caught as child sex abusers.
As an example, if 22% of all U.S. Catholic priests are/were gay (the low end of Plante's suggested range ), and 3.06% of the documented sex abusers engaged in homosexuality, that translates to an estimate of nearly 14% of homosexual priests being caught for sexual abuse of a minor. By contrast, given that less than one percent of priests were caught molesting girls (0.87%), barely 1% of the heterosexual priests (comprising 78% of the total) would have been caught.
So, unless heterosexual priest offenders are much better than homosexual priests at not getting caught, something that seems quite unlikely since it is known that boys are less apt than girls to report being molested, homosexuality is indeed a very significant risk factor for child sexual abuse. Even at the upper end of Plante's range, the same calculation shows that nearly 7% of homosexual priests were caught as opposed to only 1.6% of heterosexual priests, again a large relative difference.
Related Evidence: Teacher-Pupil Sexual Abuse
In apparently the only study asking former pupils about sexual advertising, advances, and/or contact by their teachers, a random survey of 5,184 adults found a fifth reporting at least one homosexual teacher. This subset included 56% of those with current homosexual desires and 18% of those with current heterosexual desires. Overall, 12% of men and 4% of women who said they had had a homosexual teacher indicated the teacher made sexual advances toward them, and 4% indicated the teacher influenced them to try homosexuality.Additionally, 13 (23%) of 57 former pupils who reported sex with a teacher said it was a homosexual experience.
Google News 2012-14: Teachers and Clergy
Both teachers and clergy can have significant interactions with minors. To study the impact of type of sexual interaction on reported cases of CSA, we systematically catalogued every news story giving sex of perpetrator(s) and victim(s) for U.S. child sexual abuse (CSA) stories in Google News 2012-14 for teachers and clergy in Table 2.
Considering CSA by the 239 teachers who were caught, 31% of the perpetrators engaged in homosexuality, accounting for 54% of pupil CSA. Among the clergy cases, perpetrators molesting homosexually accounted for 66% of the 151 clergy abusers and 88% of the victims of CSA. Those with homosexual interests constituted 88% of Jewish, 87% of Catholic and 43% of Protestant perpetrators.
Though not shown explicitly in Table 2, both teachers and clergy who molested homosexually averaged at least twice as many victims per offender compared to those who engaged in heterosexual CSA. These findings suggest that Dr. Plante was wrong to decry the traditional belief that "men with homosexual orientations cannot be trusted around male children and that their sexual impulse control is poor."
Empirical Reality vs. Belief
Our world is marvelously complex. Because of this complexity, it is difficult to find a 'fact' or 'truth' – especially in the social sciences – that does not have some empirical 'counter-facts,' or a contention or treatment without at least some dispute. As such, whenever someone claims something is 'always' or 'never' the case, he or she is no longer addressing this 'fact' from a scientific perspective, but from a belief system – one for which they are willing to abandon empiricism.
When Plante assures fellow Catholics that "sexual orientation is not a risk factor at all," the qualifier 'at all' shows he is willing to abandon objectivity for the pro-gay cause. By pretending to act as a scientist, he deceives his audience. The empirical evidence (only some of which we have presented here) indicates fairly clearly that those with homosexual desires are more apt than those without them to molest children.
Plante also fails to address the conclusions of other professionals who have dealt with homosexuality. In 1949, based on his experience, a Special Assistant Attorney General of California said
"The sex pervert, in his more innocuous form, is too frequently regarded as merely a 'queer' individual who never hurts anyone but himself.... All too often we lose sight of the fact that the homosexual is an inveterate seducer of the young of both sexes... and is ever seeking for younger victims."
"Most of the authorities agree and our investigation has shown that the presence of a sex pervert in a Government agency tends to have a corrosive influence on his fellow employees. These perverts will frequently attempt to entice normal individuals to engage in perverted practices. This is particularly true in the case of young and impressionable people who might come under the influence of a pervert. Government officials have the responsibility of keeping this type of corrosive influence out of the agencies under their control. It is particularly important that the thousands of young men and women who are brought into Federal jobs not be subjected to that type of influence while in the service of the Government. One homosexual can pollute a Government office."
1. Plante T (2018) No, homosexuality is not a risk factor for the sexual abuse of children. America: The Jesuit Review, October 22; https://www.americamagazine.org/faith/2018/10/22/no-homosexuality-not-risk-factorsexual-abuse-children.
2.Saghir MT & Robins E (1973) Male and female homosexuality: a comprehensive investigation. Baltimore: Willliams & Wilkins.
3.Medley G, Lipan RN, et al (2016) Sexual orientation and estimates of adult substance use and mental health: results from the 2015 National Survey on Drug Use and Health. SAMHSA Data Review, October.
4. Cameron P, Cameron K & Landess T (2005) Homosexual sex as harmful as drug abuse, prostitution or smoking. Psychological Reports, 96, 915-61.
5. Gebhard, PH & Johnson, AB (1979) The Kinsey data: marginal tabulations of the 1938-1963 interviews conducted by the institute for sex research. Philadelphia: WB Saunders, 512.
6. Bell, AP & Weinberg, MS (1978) Homosexualities: a study of diversity among men and women. NY: Simon & Schuster.
7. Jay K & Young A (1979) The gay report. NY: Summit.
8. Cameron P, Proctor K, et al (1986) Child molestation and homosexuality. Psychological Reports, 38, 327-37.
9. Plante T (2010) Six important points you don't hear about regarding clergy sexual abuse in the Catholic Church: More myths than facts in Catholic clergy sexual abuse discussions, Psychology Today, March 24.
10. Hall RC & Hall RCW (2007) A profile of pedophilia: definition, characteristics of offenders, recidivism, treatment outcomes, and forensic issues. Mayo Clinic Proceedings, 82(4), 457-71.
11. Cameron P & Cameron K (1996) Do homosexual teachers pose a risk to pupils? Journal of Psychology, 130 (6), 603-13.
12. Chauncey, G (1993) The postwar sex crime panic, in W. Graebner, ed, True Stories from the Past, at 170-1, McGraw-Hill.
13. US Congressional Record (1950) Employment of homosexuals and other sex perverts in government, S Rep No 81-241, 81st Congress, 2d Session at 4.© Paul Cameron
The views expressed by RenewAmerica columnists are their own and do not necessarily reflect the position of RenewAmerica or its affiliates.