Dear Abby - Here's Some Advice

The Washington Times (Washington, DC), April 17, 2005 | Go to article overview

Dear Abby - Here's Some Advice


Byline: THE WASHINGTON TIMES

Recently, "Dear Abby" posted a letter from a mother whose 14-year-old daughter disclosed her attraction to girls. Thinking this made her a lesbian, the girl was not shy about telling people her feelings. The mother wrote to Abby: "I keep trying to make her understand that this is her business, and it's not something she should make public." And the mom asked, "Am I wrong in telling her that?"

Here Abby had an opportunity to educate the public and help this mom, but she blew it. She told the mom, "It is not uncommon for the parents of a gay child to feel guilt or shame, when in truth, it has nothing to do with the quality of their parenting and everything to do with genetics." She then directed her to organizations that perpetuate the belief homosexuality is an inborn identity with no words of caution about the flexibility of identity in adolescence.

I will admit I have read Jeanne Phillips' (a k a "Dear Abby") column occasionally but have never seen the point of writing a letter to her - until now. Though I am unlikely to see my letter in her column, I have reproduced it here.

"Dear Abby:

"You are often right on target regarding issues of human behavior. However, it amazes me that you are so far off the mark concerning homosexuality and sexual orientation. I am writing specifically concerning the advice you gave in a recent column to a mother of a 14-year-old girl who believed she was a lesbian. As one who researches sexual orientation, I have three serious concerns about your advice.

"First, many, if not most, 14-year-olds who think they might be gay eventually determine that they are straight. Youth surveys demonstrate this. In one large survey of youth about sexuality, just more than 12 percent of 14-year-olds were unsure of their sexual orientation. However, by adulthood, only between 2 percent and 4 percent say they are gay, lesbian or bisexual.

"According to a major sexuality survey by Edward Laumann and colleagues, published by the University of Chicago Press, many people experience same-sex attractions and engage in same-sex behaviors as teens but never do so when they are adults.

"Have you never heard of LUGs (Lesbians Until Graduation) describing girls who engage in same-sex relationships until they are young adults? In other words, you should not indicate to a teen that sexual attractions at 14 reliably indicate what they might be at 24. The mother's caution on this was wise.

"Second, your statement homosexuality has 'everything due to genetics' is unsupportable with research evidence. …

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