Despite the fact that homosexuals make up such a small percentage of the population, and despite the fact that homosexuals are not pedophiles, there is a major attempt in the haredi community to “fix” people who are homosexual. Haredi community leaders will take up the cause against a homosexual lifestyle but dismiss or attempt to minimize child sexual abuse, and they refuse to out the pedophiles who prey on their community's children.
In or Out of the Closet
Michael J. Salamon, Ph.D.
Somewhere between two and five percent of the population, of any population anywhere in the world, is homosexual – at least that is what most of the well done research available indicates. There are many who still quote a study that says that homosexuals make up 10 percent of the population but that number has been discredited and was shown to be linked to a very significant sampling error in the research that reported that amount. Individuals who are gay therefore make up a very small percentage of any community.
Research has also begun to indicate that most, if not all homosexuals did not opt for that particular identity. There seems to be a biologically driven behavioral predisposition when a person is homosexual that is expressed regardless of early life experiences. The concern of some parents and some clerics who are media darlings that if you do not protect your children from homosexuals they will convert your children to homosexuality is essentially unfounded. Homosexuals do not go trolling for people to convert to their sexual identity and lifestyle. That is not to say that there are not homosexuals who are not pedophiles, there are, but they are child abusers and are no different than any adult who preys on a child for their own material or sexual gain. And despite some rhetoric to the contrary most studies show that homosexuals are just as likely as heterosexuals to be pedophiles, not more so.
Most individuals who are gay choose to live their lifestyle behind closed doors. If that is the case, than little more should be said about this topic. There are some gay individuals who, in an attempt to either gain some individual acceptance or more public acknowledgement and respect agitate in public for that recognition.
Not long ago a conference on this topic took place at Yeshiva University entitled “Being Gay in the Modern Orthodox World” which in turn indirectly led to the development of a “Statement of Principles on the Place of Jews with a Homosexual Orientation in Our Community”. This statement was originally authored by Rabbi Nathaiel Helfgot subsequently revised by other Rabbis and signed by over 90 Rabbis and other community leaders. The gist of the Statement is that all members of our community are entitled to respect and to be afforded dignity regardless of sexual orientation. To me it makes sense that our leadership finally makes a statement of this nature. No one should be publicly demeaned or harassed.
The same week that this Statement was released the AOJS had their yearly convention. After much internal debate the Association of Orthodox Jewish Scientists allowed Arthur Abba Goldberg, the founder of JONAH (Jews Offering New Alternatives to Homosexuality) the right to speak about reparative therapy. There were likely two reasons for the debate as to whether Mr. Goldberg should be given the podium. Reparative therapy is general highly controversial so much so that it has been found to be useless at best and can actually cause harm. The American Psychological Association issued a statement indicating that psychologists should refrain from reparative therapy for that reason. The APA guidelines further state that individuals who have a homosexual lifestyle and seek therapy “should be able to have the expectation that such therapy would take place in a professionally neutral environment absent of any societal bias. Additionally, therapists should be providing clients with accurate information about same-sex sexual orientation.” Not doing so can result in censure from the organization and even legal action against the therapist who does not follow these guidelines.
For the AOJS there was the further issue of alleged allegations against Mr. Goldberg who has been accused of abuse by individuals who were referred to JONAH and issued their charges via a youtube.com expose. The AOJS members did not react to these charges except to say that anyone can make allegations but they have to be substantiated. In the end about 100 participants attended Mr. Goldberg’s speech.
I find it most incredible that professionals, given all that we now know, still want to provide a forum for a discredited, even harmful intervention. My only understanding must be that there is a certain desperation that some professionals feel to try and help individuals who are “suffering” with this supposed ”affliction.” Despite the fact that they make up such a small percentage of the community, despite the fact that they are not generally pedophiles, at least not more so than the percentage found in any group, despite the fact that except for a tiny minority they lead normal lives in public, there is this major attempt to “fix” people who are homosexual.
I am not a homosexual advocate. I do not agree that public marriage should be allowed between members of the same sex. But, I am an advocate for those that I treat regardless of their religious status, skin color, ethnicity or orientation. I have worked with people who have true homosexual feelings but want to maintain a true Jewish lifestyle. I have worked with others who were coerced into marrying only to find after having several children that they could not live in this manner. I have worked with some who have been so hurt by the same people they grew up with that they publicly agitate for acceptance of their homosexual lifestyle. I am astounded when professionals and community leaders will take up the cause against a homosexual lifestyle but prefer to dismiss or attempt to minimize the fact that child abuse occurs at all. They want to out homosexuals even “fix” them but they refuse to out pedophiles. I believe we have our priorities wrong.
Dr. Salamon, a Fellow of the American Psychological Association, is the founder and director of the ADC Psychological Services in Hewlett, NY. His recent books include, The Shidduch Crisis: Causes and Cures, published by Urim Publications and Every Pot Has a Cover: A Proven Guide to Finding, Keeping and Enhancing the Ideal Relationship, published by Rowman & Littlefield.