By Dale O'Leary
Prevention and treatment of gender non-conformity will protect children.
"Safe schools" programs which discourage teasing but label at-risk children, may
actually put children at risk.
The latest campaign to promote homosexuality as normal involves the creation of
"safe schools" in which gender non-conforming children are protected from
teasing and violence and counseled to accept a homosexual self-identity at an early age.
There is nothing wrong with prevention of teasing and violence within the school
community. And it is certainly true that children who are perceived as not conforming to
gender norms are at risk. It is also true that children experiencing same-sex attraction
or engaging in same-sex behavior are far more likely to be involved in drugs and abuse
alcohol, more likely to experience sexual violence or be involved in prostitution, more
likely to attempt suicide or have psychological problems, and more likely to contract a
sexually transmitted diseases. These children need help. We need to protect children and
The question is how do we best protect children.
I can find no evidence that "safe schools" programs
or "gay/straight student alliances" will actually prevent the negative outcomes
and there is some evidence that "coming out" early or engaging in same-sex
behavior while still in adolescense may actually increase negative outcomes. There is also
evidence that a substantial number of adolescents who are not psychologically at risk for
adult homosexuality, may be confused about their sexual feelings in early adolescence and
that promotion of homosexuality as the "in thing" may encourage these children
to experiment -- with extremely negative consequences. A boy who discovers after a few
years of "experimentation" that he is not really homosexual, but only nervous
with girls, may also discover that he is HIV positive.
What can we do to protect youth?
Promote prevention of homosexual attraction by recognizing the symptoms and encouraging
intervention before puberty.
Children go through a serious of development stages in the first three years of life.
Boys attach to the mother, then around 8 months begin to separate and recognize themselves
as individuals. At about 18 months, they identify with the father and identify themselves
as male. They then go on to identify with the male peers and eventually to experience
sexual attractions to girls. If these developmental stages are not accomplished, unmet
needs persist; the person strives to repair the childhood wounds and various psychological
problems can occur depending on the gravity of the developmental failure.
Reviewing the literature on homosexuality, I find that the homosexual condition might
be best described as a failure to identify with one's own sex. The person recognizes that
he is male or she is female, but feels "different." Since proper same-sex
identification, which should have occurred at age 18 months, never happens, homosexually
attracted adults rightly express their perception that they have "always been this
The case histories demonstrate that there is always a reason for this failure to
identify, but the reasons may be very different. The child has four chances to make the
identification. In the case of boys, the boy interacts with the father in a positive way
and identifies with the father or other male. If this doesn't happen, the mother can
positively encourage her son's masculine identity by promoting and rewarding masculine
identification. The boy has another chance when he begins to play with male peers to
identify himself as boy among boys. And lastly if sexual attraction first occurs in the
context of a positive boy/girl relation, the boy will feel confident of his masculine
However, if the boy does not "catch the train" to masculinity at the first
stop, it becomes progressively more difficult. A boy who doesn't identify with the father,
will need more than a "good" mother, he will need a mother who goes out of her
way to encourage his masculinity. A boy who does not have the confidence of father
identification or who has identified with his mother and adopted feminine mannerism is
often rejected by other children because children demand gender conformity. And rejected
boys are targeted by pedophiles or older boys and subjected to sexual abusive situations.
Many people are reticent to talk about the ways in which family situations lead to
same-sex attractions because they know many "good" people with homosexual
children. While in some cases the failure to same-sex identify can be directly linked to
parental neglect and abuse, in other cases "good" parents unintentionally failed
to foster same-sex identification. For example, one of the ways in which a boy identifies
with the father is through rough-and-tumble play during the first two years of life. The
father tosses the baby up in the air or tickles him roughly and the child has four
experiences simultaneously. First, terror; second, excitement; third, the smile of the
father which tells him he should be enjoying this and that his father loves him; and
fourth, a sense that father (male) is different from mother (female). This experience
gives the child a confidence in his ability to engage in rough-and-tumble play and to face
fearful situations, combined with a healthy sense of masculinity. These appear to be
essential elements in same-sex peer group play. Without these the boy stands on the
sidelines. A number of studies show that the lack of rough-and-tumble of play
distinguishes the childhood of homosexual boys from that of heterosexual boys.
If the father did not engage in this kind of play with a particular child because the
father was absent from the home during the critical period, because the child was sick and
being tended by the mother, because the father was engaged in activities with older sons,
or because the father was temperamentally uncomfortable with physical interaction with
children, the son has a development deficit. If this deficit is not repaired, this boy
will be at risk.
For girls, the pattern is somewhat different because the girl must separate from the
mother and identify with her and must experience the father as trustworthy. If the mother
is depressed during the critical period of identification, the daughter may not properly
The good news is that symptoms of the failure to identify are, in many cases, obvious.
The child who failed to same-sex identify often exhibits symptoms of gender non-conformity
as early as 3 years of age. If treatment is initiated immediately, the prognosis is
excellent. If a child reaches school age and is still exhibiting gender non-conforming
behaviors, that child needs therapeutic intervention. The intervention will reduce the
behaviors which trigger the teasing and eliminate the sources of the child's unhappiness.
These children often suffer from other problems in addition to the failure to same-sex
identify, such as phobias and anxiety. They need to have their legitimate needs
appropriately met. They should not be labeled as "pre-homosexual" and turned
over to homosexual activists. The bad news is that homosexual activists want to prevent
treatment of at-risk children.
While teachers and parents need to discourage cruelty, violence and teasing, they also
need to recognize that children are not simply mean. Children intuitively sense when
another child is acting inappropriately and try to tease that child into conforming to the
developmental norms. These developmental norms are not arbitrary social constructions, but
a path to healthy psychological growth. Case histories of gender non-conforming children
do not reveal confident, healthy youngsters rejecting narrow stereotypes, but fearful,
rigid, anxious, phobic children. Encouraging healthy, early, same-sex identification will
not trap the child into narrow stereotypes, indeed it will have the opposite effect. Once
same-sex identification is firmly established, the child will be ready to move on to a
more expansive self-identity which can incorporate a wide variety of activities and
interests. Healthy same-sex identification is one of the foundation stones for
We need to inform parents, teachers, pastors and pediatricians about the importance of
same-sex identification, the symptoms and risks of failure to same-sex identify, and the
importance of early intervention and treatment.
For those who like more information or the references for the studies referred to,
email me at : firstname.lastname@example.org.