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Protection and Equity for all GSU Students & Faculty

A response from a GSU faculty member on the recent H.O.M.E./GSA tensions

By Dr. Raven James
On March 9, 2013

According to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) "A hate crime is a traditional offense like murder, arson, or vandalism with an added element of bias. For the purposes of collecting statistics, Congress has defined a hate crime as a 'criminal offense against a person or property motivated in whole or in part by an offender's bias against a race, religion, disability, ethnic origin or sexual orientation.' Hate itself is not a crime-and the FBI is mindful of protecting freedom of speech and other civil liberties. Investigating hate crime is the number one priority of the FBI's Civil Rights Program. Why? Not only because hate crime has a devastating impact on families and communities, but also because groups that preach hatred and intolerance plant the seeds of terrorism here in our country ("

One such group recently came to the campus of Governors State University - Heterosexuals Organized for a Moral Environment (H.O.M.E.). The leader of this visit, Mr. Wayne Lela, manipulated an array of propaganda and false science to plant the seeds of fear and terrorism on our campus by verbally attacking and harassing a student group, our Gay, Straight Alliance.  The mission of such groups are to create safe environments on college campuses for students to support each other and learn about homophobia, transphobia, and other oppressions, educate the school community about such issues, and to fight discrimination, harassment, and violence on campus.  In striving for safe spaces, sexual orientation education helps preserve the integrity of all human rights for all human beings and to protect current and future generations of family members. The Gay Straight Alliance includes individuals from all sexual orientations. Our parents and friends, church members and community members are comprised of multiple identities, all of whom deserve equity and protection under the law.

College campuses are places where ideas are considered and debated, and this group was allowed on campus to present their views. However, campuses are places where students are taught the value of evidence and that not all arguments are equally valid or sound (based on logic and evidence). Some of the claims Mr. Lela makes are not supported by evidence, but merely assertion and inaccurate analogy.  For example, in a study by Jenny, Roesler, & Poyer (1994), researchers reviewed the medical charts of 352 children evaluated for sexual abuse in a Denver children's hospital. In 74 cases, the abuser was another child or adolescent, none of whom were identified as lesbian or gay. In 9 cases, the abuser could not be identified (e.g., each parent accused the other). In 269 cases, the child (219 girls & 50 boys) was abused by an adult. Both girls and boys were most likely to be abused by their fathers, stepfathers, or other men married to female relatives. Only 2 of these 269 abusers (less than 1%) were identified as gay or lesbian. The researchers concluded that "most child abuse appears to be committed by situational child abusers who present themselves as heterosexuals" (p. 43).  And while definitive "proof" that a person is born gay, lesbian or bisexual has been debated in science, there are multiple research findings to support evidence of hormonal and genetic contributions to sexual orientation i.e. Hamer, et al, 1993; Hines, et al., 2003; LeVay, 1993, 1996; Swaab, et al., 1995.

The bottom line is that it really doesn't matter why someone is straight or gay. What does matter is that all humans, regardless of their religion, race, sexual or gender orientation, disability or ethnic origin have the right to respect and freedom from harassment and violence while getting an education. Manipulating "freedom of speech" to justify propaganda, false reporting of science and promoting "hate speech" by attacking protected groups of individuals is dangerous. Freedom of speech on a campus where education is the goal does not mean providing support for undocumented positions based on beliefs, but through the examination of logical evidence.


Raven James, Ph.D.

Addictions Studies & Behavioral Health

Governors State University



Civil Rights Hate Crime Overivew. Retrieved March 3, 2013 from:                us/investigate/civilrights/hate_crimes/overview

Hamer, D. H., Hu, S., Magnuson, V. L., Hu, N., & Pattatucci, A. M. (1993). A linkage between DNA markers on the X chromosome

                and male sexual orientation. SCIENCE-NEW YORK THEN WASHINGTON-, 261, 321-321.

Hines, M., Brook, C. & Conway, G.S. (2004). Androgen and psychosexual development: Core gender identity, sexual orientation, and

                recalled childhood gender role behaviors in women and men with congenital adrenal hyperplasia (CAS). Journal of Sex

                Research, 41(1), 75-81.

Jenny, C., Roesler, T. A., & Poyer, K. L. (1994). Are children at risk for sexual abuse by homosexuals? Pediatrics, 94, 41-44.

LeVay, S. (1993). The sexual brain. Cambridge, MA: Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

LeVay, S. (1996). Queer science. Cambridge, MA: Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Swaab, D.F., Gooren, L.J.G. & Hofman, M.A. (1995). Brain research, gender and sexual orientation. Journal of Homosexuality, 28(3-

                4), 283-301.

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