The suicide of 15 year old Justin Aaberg on July 9, 2010 has been used ever since as an example of the urgent need for anti-bullying programs in our schools, especially programs designed to prevent bullying of LGBT children in schools. Reportedly, there were five children in the same school district who had committed suicide that year. How many of them were homosexual is not clear. Of the nine children in that school district who committed suicide between 2009 and 2011, three reportedly were gay.
Let’s look at Justin’s case. According to one report, Justin hanged himself shortly after breaking up with his boyfriend. A few of his friends told Tammy that Justin also had been bullied at school supposedly because he was gay. I could find no other possible reasons that were reported.
In one interview Tammy said that Justin has “come out” as gay when he was 13. Tammy and her husband, Shawn, accepted it. Apparently, though, it was only after his death that Tammy found out how much Justin was suffering as a result of his same sex attraction. Until he committed suicide, she thought he was happy.
Tammy quickly concluded several things. First, she concluded that Justin was born gay. In one interview she said: “Religion and gun control might be things you can have an opinion on, but there is a lot of research out there that says that people (who are gay) are born that way.” This belief may be the reason Tammy and her husband simply accepted Justin’s declared orientation a couple of years earlier.
Second, Tammy concluded that it was a general lack of understanding about Justin’s sexual orientation that led to Justin being bullied, and that the bullying drove Justin to commit suicide.
Third, it was the school district’s neutrality policy over controversial issues that led to the bullying. If the district had adopted an appropriate policy, that is, a policy that affirmed same sex orientation, other students would have had a favorable opinion of LGBT students and they would not be bullied. Apparently, that was her thinking.
All of these conclusions are based more on speculation than fact. Despite that, the Anoka-Hennepin School District where Justin was a student was sued by the Southern Poverty Law Center and the National Center for Lesbian Rights. Dan Savage, a homosexual activist, launched the “It Gets Better” anti-bullying campaign, using Justin Aaberg as a poster boy for combating bullying of gay children. Eventually, the district was forced by the U.S. Department of Justice to enter into a consent decree that transformed not only the district’s anti-bullying program, but radicalized the sexual education program for all students. Now this district’s approach is being touted as the model for districts all over the country.
It is true that teen suicide is a large and growing problem in the U.S. We need to do something to reduce it. Bullying certainly has something to do with the teen suicide rate. But there are many other factors that contribute to this tragedy as well—things like alcohol, drugs, physical and emotional abuse at home, child sexual abuse everywhere, the list goes on and on. We can’t settle on doing something, anything, we need to do the right things.
The CDC reports that 51 percent of students in our schools experience bullying. Obviously, students who self-identify as gay are a small subset of that 51 percent. The idea that bullying is caused by a lack of understanding of LGBT students is wrong on its face. Only 2 to 4 percent of students claim they are gay, so how would this theory explain bullying of non-gay students?
No, bullies are asserting their dominance, their superiority over another person or group of people. Teaching a bully to be understanding of those they bully is like trying to teach a drug dealer that drugs are unhealthy. Hoping the bully will stop by using this approach is ridiculous.
The problem with educators is that they seem to think that every problem can be solved by throwing more information at it. More proof of the old adage that “if you’re a hammer, everything looks like a nail.”
To Tammy Aaberg and the other activists in this cause, creating a program to teach students to understand homosexuality was only part of the solution. In order to prevent bullying and, thus, reduce teen suicide required a much more comprehensive approach. They took aim at the entire sex education program of the school system.
The activists driving theory with respect to sex education is that human sexuality is a continuum, from purely homosexual to purely heterosexual. Tammy Aaberg, herself, argues that a “lot of research” demonstrates that a person’s sexual orientation is determined at birth. If only children knew the “truth” about sexuality, if only they had a comprehensive understanding of sexual expression, children would be more accepting of each others, and their own, sexual interests, they argue.
There is one problem with this approach. It is completely wrong.
Kinsey reported his “finding” that sexuality falls on a continuum. But that “finding” has been shown to be false by subsequent research, not to mention that most of Kinsey’s research has been proven to have been fraudulent. Additionally, there is not a single valid study that links homosexuality with genetics. Even most pro-gay sex researchers have dropped that claim.
How a person becomes homosexual is not fully known. How does a person become a pedophile? How does a person become sexually aroused by an animal? By feet? By pain? We don’t have a full explanation for any of these or any of the many other sexual attachments that people form. A person’s sexuality is complex. But we do have some insight about it.
One thing we know is that some people develop a same sex attraction because they have experienced same sex sexual abuse as a child. Not all children who endure such abuse form same sex attractions. Why some do and some don’t, we also don’t know. It’s not always adults who abuse these children either. More than a third of children are abused by other children, usually older children.
Back to the case of Justin Aaberg. There is no evidence that Justin was born gay. To the contrary, the research studies actually call us to conclude that most likely he was NOT born that way. So how did Justin become attracted to the same sex? We don’t know.
However, since we know that children like Justin can form same sex attractions because of abuse, shouldn’t this be examined? Was this possibility considered and investigated? Not to my knowledge.
Pushing the belief that children are “born gay” eliminates any need to inquire further how children form a same sex attraction. This most likely is why no one looked at the possibility that Justin was sexually abused before he “came out” at 13?
I would ask, who was Justin’s boyfriend? Why did they break up and what contribution did the falling out have on Justin’s suicide? What did they boyfriend know about Justin’s history of same sex sexual activity? Was there any time during his childhood that Justin had a close, sometimes secretive, relationship with an older boy or adult?
I don’t see any published information that answer these questions. And I doubt that anyone looked into them. The SPLC or the DOJ certainly wouldn’t have looked into it. And I doubt that the local police did either, even though that should be standard procedure for any homicide (which includes suicide) of a child who has claimed a same sex attraction. If any organization did look into these matters, what did they find and why weren’t the findings included in the evidence presented in the court cases, to the school board or to the Minnesota Department of Education?
The bottom line is that a cultural upheaval was forced upon the Anoka-Hennepin County school system based on false assumptions, junk science, and incompetent investigation or false characterization of the presenting problems.
The narrative that was promoted in Minnesota, and that is being promoted all over the country now, is that children are born gay, that gay children are bullied because straight children lack understanding of the full continuum of sexuality, and that because of this, sex education programs must be broadened to include affirmation of all sexual activity, homosexual and heterosexual, at whatever age and with whomever. The child is encouraged to make that decision when he or she is ready.
This isn’t just wrong, it’s insane. In future posts I’ll be examining the various elements of this narrative.