Dr. Gary Remafedi Says Conservative Group Guilty of “Gross Misrepresentation” And Questions If Focus Actually Read His Article Before Misquoting It

NEW YORK — TruthWinsOut.org published a letter today from a researcher who claims Focus on the Family twisted his work. In the letter, Gary Remafedi, M.D., M.P.H., a professor of pediatrics at the University of Minnesota, asked Focus on the Family’ leader James Dobson to stop misrepresenting his findings from a key 1992 study.

“I want to draw your attention to a gross misrepresentation of our research at the website of Focus on the Family,” Remafedi wrote in his letter to Dobson. “More important, had the authors of “Myths and Facts” actually read the article, they would have found no support for their contention that “many children experience a period of sexual-identity confusion when they can be influenced in either direction.’”

(Full Text of Letter Below)

Remafedi’ report was published in Pediatrics in 1992. The study explored patterns of sexual orientation in a representative sample of more than 34,000 Minnesota students in grades 7 to 12. Focus on the Family distorted his findings to make the case that young people should not learn about homosexuality because they were sexually confused, and could thus be influenced by educational material.

“Focus on the Family has engaged in a disturbing pattern of misrepresenting the work of legitimate researchers to further their anti-gay agenda,” said Wayne Besen, Executive Director of TruthWinsOut.org. “We call on Focus on the Family to immediately expunge all falsehoods and fallacies presented as”facts’ from their past and present literature.”

Focus on the Family has an ignoble history of manipulating or cherry picking the research of genuine scientists. Last year, several researchers held Dobson accountable for misrepresenting their work. Letters and videos from these scientists can be viewed at www.RespectMyResearch.org.

TruthWinsOut.org is currently working to find examples where right wing organizations have twisted scientific work. If you have a case that is worthy of investigation, please contact TWO’ Director of Research, Peter Cabrera, at petercabrera74@yahoo.com

FULL TEXT OF LETTER

Dr. James Dobson
Focus on the Family
Colorado Springs, CO 80995

April 30, 2008

Dear Dr. Dobson,

I want to draw your attention to a gross misrepresentation of our research at the website of “Focus on the Family” (see http://www.family.org/socialissues/A000000682.cfm). In the third paragraph of the article, “Myths and Facts,” our research is cited in support of the statement: “During early adolescence, many children experience a period of sexual-identity confusion when they can easily be influenced in either direction.”

First, please note that the citation itself is incorrect. The original article was published in Pediatrics, not Journal of Pediatrics. The correct reference is: Remafedi G, Resnick M, Blum R, Harris L. Demography of sexual orientation in adolescents. Pediatrics. 89(4):714-721, 1992. More important, had the authors of “Myths and Facts” actually read the article, they would have found no support for their contention that “many children experience a period of sexual-identity confusion when they can be influenced in either direction.” The word confusion does not appear in our article; nor did we find that anyone can influence a young person’ sexual identity.

The purpose of our study was to explore patterns of sexual orientation in a representative sample of more than 34,000 Minnesota students in grades 7 to 12. We found that the percentage of student who reported being “unsure” about their orientation steadily declined with age from 25.9% in 12-year-old persons to 5% in 18 year-old students (p. 716). Youth who were “unsure” were more likely than others to entertain homosexual fantasies and attractions and less likely to have had heterosexual experiences (p. 720). These and other data suggested that uncertainty about sexual orientation “gradually gives way to heterosexual or homosexual identification with the passage of time and/or with increasing sexual experience” (p. 720).

Please ask the authors of the misstatements to correct them as soon as possible. In the interest of accurate translation of research into practice, a copy of this letter will be posted at www.truthwinsout.org. Thank you for your attention.
Respectfully yours,

Gary Remafedi, M.D., M.P.H.
Professor, Department of Pediatrics
University of Minnesota
428 Oak Grove St.
Minneapolis, MN 55403

cc: Truth Wins Out