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Leading them into temptation

"Leading them into temptation" Continued...

Issue: "Global shame," June 15, 2002

A 2001 study in the Archives of Sexual Behavior compared childhood molestation between heterosexuals and nonheterosexuals. The authors found that almost half of gay men and about one in five lesbians reported homosexual molestation in childhood. This compared to childhood homosexual molestation rates of only 7 percent of heterosexual men and 1 percent of heterosexual women.

Critics say that gay-youth advocates and centers such as HYC downplay such triggers in an attempt to make homosexuality seem a "culture" rather than an abnormal expression of sexuality. In addition, advocates edit out unflattering facts about homosexuality, such as the low incidence of long-term relationships and high rate among gay males of sexually transmitted disease such as AIDS.

AIDS/HIV is a primary public-funding fountain for gay youth centers. In tax documents filed by the Lesbian and Gay Men's Community Center of San Diego for the fiscal year ending June 30, 2001, the 501(c)3 nonprofit reported $2.8 million in revenue-at least 70 percent from government sources. According to Ms. Berberet, that money came primarily from tax-funded HIV-prevention grants at the state, federal, and county levels. But an analysis of HYC and Community Center literature suggests that HIV-prevention activities account for far less than three-quarters of each center's activities.

When WORLD's incognito reporter tried to get information about HIV prevention from HYC staff members, she found slim pickings. One staffer told her about "Wrappers," a group she could join if she wanted to: "Wrappers is a peers-educating-peers group where youth can be trained to talk to other teens about HIV and other gay issues," the staffer said. "But that's really all we have."

While advocates claim that youth centers like HYC provide social services to at-risk kids who are rejected by peers and counselors at non-gay facilities, critics say such services actually are limited. WORLD's reporter didn't have much success getting information about some "social services" HYC's literature claimed the center offered. She edged up to a table where four center staffers perused their cards in a game of Spades. When the reporter asked one of them-a thin, dark, 40ish man-about home placement services, he told her, "Why don't you come back tomorrow when it's not so hectic?" and returned to his cards.

Other factors render gay youth center operations suspect. For example, some centers allow adults to socialize with young teenagers. HYC is open to 14- to 24-year-olds. Ms. Berberet acknowledged that age groups are not separated during social activities and no parental permission is required for on-site events. That means adults are mixing socially with kids just graduated from the eighth grade. While the center does not allow on-site coupling, activity originating at HYC and occurring off-site could be classified as a tax-funded introduction to statutory rape.

Other youth centers, such as the tax-funded District 202 in Minneapolis, pair adult homosexuals with children in "mentoring" relationships. Advocacy-oriented adult "help," as well as shifting cultural attitudes toward same-sex relationships, may leave kids who are questioning their sexuality with no place to go but gay. Which raises the question: Are havens that promote high-risk sexual acting out leading troubled kids with homosexual tendencies away from real healing of underlying dysfunctions?

The problem with gay youth advocacy, said Dr. Satinover, is "the monolithic, uniform resistance to the idea that there are some youngsters who want to leave the gay life." He told WORLD, "There are hurting children who are struggling sexually but want desperately not to be in the gay life. The kind of support they as free citizens should have available to them is to seek the ability to change. Those children are not being supported."

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