National Institute of Health Director Francis S. Collins, MD, has accused the conservative American College of Pediatricians of distorting his research on homosexuality.
"It is disturbing for me to see special interest groups distort my scientific observations to make a point against homosexuality," Collins said in a written statement on NIH letterhead. "The American College of Pediatricians pulled language out of context from a book I wrote in 2006 to support an ideology that can cause unnecessary anguish and encourage prejudice. The information they present is misleading and incorrect, and it is particularly troubling that they are distributing it in a way that will confuse school children and their parents."
Collins was referring to a March 31 letter that the ACP President Thomas Benton, MD, sent to 14,800 school district superintendents in the United States concerning homosexuality and gender confusion in teenagers.
"In dealing with adolescents experiencing same-sex attraction, it is essential to understand there is no scientific evidence that an individual is born 'gay' or 'transgender,'" Benton said in the letter. "Instead, the best available research points to multiple factors—primarily social and familial—that predispose children and adolescents to homosexual attraction and/or gender confusion. It is also critical to understand that these conditions can respond well to therapy."
Benton went on to write: "Dr. Francis Collins, former Director of the Genome Project, has stated that while homosexuality may be genetically influenced, it is '… not hardwired by DNA, and that whatever genes are involved represent predispositions, not predeterminations.' He also states [that] '…the prominent role[s] of individual free will choices [has] a profound effect on us.'"
Benton told the superintendents: "In light of these facts, it is clear that when well-intentioned but misinformed school personnel encourage students to 'come out as gay' and be 'affirmed,' there is a serious risk of erroneously labeling students (who may merely be experiencing transient sexual confusion and/or engaging in sexual experimentation). Premature labeling may then lead some adolescents into harmful homosexual behaviors that they otherwise would not pursue."
A spokeswoman for the ACP said today the Gainesville, FL-based physician organization was made aware of Collins' statement, and would issue a public statement after Benton attempts to speak with Collins.
According to the "core values" listed on its Web site, ACP takes conservative stances on a number of hot button issues, including the belief that life begins at conception; support of corporal punishment; support of sexual abstinence for adolescents; opposition to same sex marriage; opposition to abortion rights; and opposition to the newly enacted federal healthcare reforms.