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10/08/2010

Candi Cushman rejects gay harassment figures; Figures.

by Jeremy Hooper

2624-1For actual LGBT people, the new GLSEN (Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network) survey suggesting that nearly 9 out of 10 lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender students have experienced some degree of harassment doesn't come across as all that shocking. Because first and foremost, most all of us who've walked in forcibly differentiated shoes have some degree of battle scarring, be it slight enough to salve with a head shake and a mocking laugh, or encompassing enough to require a therapist's couch. But also because even with so much change, we still live in a world where basic rights like serving in the military without prejudice are shot down by the United States Senate, or where one's desire to pledge a life commitment to the person he or she loves is, in a time of literal war, spun into the basis for an all-out cultural skirmish. The real question: Why wouldn't young bullies of 2010 interpret that as giving them a pass for their own adolescent/pre-adolescent smear the queer matches?

But leave it to Focus on the Family's resident encourager of school-centric blind-eye adoption, Candi Cushman, to once again neglect the harsh fallout that so obviously comes from anti-LGBT harassment and to instead question the veracity of GLSEN's claim:

"All of the data and the way it was interpreted was done by their own in-house activists," Cushman points out. "The report lists four authors -- all of whom are employed by GLSEN and who have been involved with GLSEN for many years, in many cases as volunteers in GLSEN's local chapters." The analyst describes the group as "hardly what you'd call an objective research team."
...
"It's a widely recognized problem that surveys that rely on self-selection have the most risk of being unreliable and tainted because people that choose to participate, that self-select to participate, are usually highly motivated for a reason to do that," the education analyst suggests.

Pro-homosexual survey lacks objectivity, reflects advocacy [ONN]

So wait, Candi's strongest argument is that the GLSEN study is wrong because the work was done in-house?! And the participants -- 7,261 students between the ages of 13 and 21 from all Candi-Cushman50 states and the District of Columbia -- are to be discredited because of their motivations? What, because skewing poll results has replaced "Glee" as the most popular part of a LGBT teen's week? Oh, you reliable far-right negligence. Blech.

Look, are there other LGBT teens who are lucky enough to not be suffering bullying, who do not seek out community resources, and who therefore fail to be represented in this study? In a word: yes. There are some American schools where being gay has managed to pass the bar of acceptability, and that's a fantastic thing.

But much more common than the above scenario are the thousands of other LGBT teens who've decided to stay in the closet so as to avoid harassment. So really, if we lived in a world where being LGBT wasn't something one had the option of hiding yet all other factors of modern America remained in place, we'd actually suspect that the GLSEN figures would be slightly higher. Although in that kind of theoretical world, the other factors most likely wouldn't remain the same, since the visibility of LGBT people's actual, fully represented numbers would surely help to change the attitudes. Plus also in that kind of world, many of the bullies would probably no longer be bullies, since full disclosure would surely reveal what so many of us (former bullies and former victims) know to be true: That one's own sexuality struggle is often what leads to the aggression in the first place.

The bottom line: Any kind of credible poll, from an informal hand count to a well-financed analysis, is going to show homosexuality and/or gender identity as still being one of the top reasons why a kid would find a target on their backpack. That's simply a (sad) reality. And another (sad) reality is that Candi Cushman spends her days painting anyone's attempt to change this queer-hostile picture as being a part of some sort of "militant" or "radical" "agenda" that Christians must oppose. If this is what she wants to do for her life's work, then we have no power or even right to stop Candi from choosing what she sees to be gainful employment. Though if she does go this route, Candi really should have the fortitude to deal less with polling minutiae and more with the hurting, vulnerable human beings who don't know their Gallups from their Pews from their [insert firm that groups like Focus on the Family use to achieve their desired result]. And also, she really shouldn't bring to mind the concept of objectivity, since her own advocacy work typically ranges from "but this is how I want it to be" to "but this is how I demand it to be!"

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