The American College of Pediatricians cautions educators about the management of students experiencing same-sex attraction or exhibiting symptoms of gender confusion. These concerns are outlined in a letter and fact sheet sent by College president Thomas Benton, MD, to all 14, 800 school district superintendents in the U.S. Dr. Benton also alerts them to a new Web resource, FactsAboutYouth.com, which was created by a coalition of health professionals to provide factual information to educators, parents, and students about sexual development.
“As pediatricians, our primary interest is in the health and well-being of children and youth,” Dr. Den Trumbull, Vice President of the College explains. “We are increasingly concerned that in too many instances, misinformation or incorrect assumptions are guiding well-intentioned educators to adopt policies that are actually harmful to those youth dealing with sexual confusion.”
The College reminds school superintendents that it is not uncommon for adolescents to experience transient confusion about their sexual orientation and that most students will ultimately adopt a heterosexual orientation if not otherwise encouraged. For this reason, schools should not seek to develop policy which “affirms” or encourages these non-heterosexual attractions among students who may merely be experimenting or experiencing temporary sexual confusion. Such premature labeling can lead some adolescents to engage in homosexual behaviors that carry serious physical and mental health risks.
There is no scientific evidence that anyone is born gay or transgendered. Therefore, the College further advises that schools should not teach or imply to students that homosexual attraction is innate, always life-long and unchangeable. Research has shown that therapy to restore heterosexual attraction can be effective for many people.
Optimal health and respect for all students can only be achieved within a school by first respecting the rights of students and parents to accurate information and to self-determination. It is the school’s legitimate role to provide a safe environment for respectful self-expression for all students. It is not the school’s role to diagnose or attempt to treat any student’s medical condition, and certainly not the school’s role to “affirm” a student’s perceived personal sexual orientation.