[Shannon Cuttle is an educator, school administrator, safe schools advocate and trainer, community organizer, and policy wonk.]
This weekend at the Marriott Renaissance-Airport Hotel in Philadelphia, PA, the organization NARTH will hold their annual conference. NARTH is no ordinary organization; draped in disguise as a “scientific research” community lies an organization that uses inaccurate and misguided information that harms not just adults but youth and families.
NARTH most recently has been in the news over the Rekers scandal, but even before that they made headlines this past March with a letter that went out to over 800 school superintendents nationwide through their American College of Pediatricians, a fake organization created to be confused with the authentic American Academy of Pediatrics. The letter denounced GLSEN’s Day of Silence and announced a new youth program with so called “resources” for families. Under the guise of the American College of Pediatricians, the misleading Facts About Youth: Informing About The Sexual Development of Youth website offers inaccurate and harmful material for all youth, especially gender non-conforming and LGBT youth and families.
The Facts About Youth website outlines “how to seek reparative treatment for your homosexual child” and outlines “what to do if your child shows homosexual tendencies.” Under the topic of “Empowering Parents of Gender Discordant and Same-Sex Attracted Children,” the Facts About Youth website also contains inaccurate and misguided information for educators.
The so-called American College of Pediatricians is not a real medical or scientific organization nor is it affiliated with any accredited medical or collegiate association or organization.
The NARTH Facts About Youth website includes a misleading statement speaking out against real scientific medical associations including the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Psychiatric Association, along with the real National Education Association over the real and accurate document Just the Facts about Sexual Orientation and Youth: a primer for principals, educators and school personnel .
During the NARTH conference this weekend, sessions will be held on youth, families, and schools. While 9 in 10 LGBT youth are bullied and harassed and 84.6% endure harassment in school daily, organizations such as NARTH, the American College of Pediatricians, Facts About Youth, the American Family Association, and others are leading the charge to fuel the fire of intolerance and hate.
We need to speak out against those who spread inaccurate and hurtful information that is damaging our communities and creating a hostile environment for youth. We need to hold those accountable that are allowing messages of hate and intolerance in our communities. And we need to stand up to those individuals and organizations that support them. The lives of LGBTQ youth are depending on it.