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Civil Rights

Jan. 3, 2024

Elimination of diversity to resolve conflicts is harmful

The only reason anyone would try to eliminate diversity is because they have issues with it. Most often, those issues stem from an unfair personal opinion which influences one’s judgment – the definition of bias.

Mark B. Baer

Mark works as a mediator and conflict resolution consultant and teaches a course on implicit bias.

Diversity of thought involves disagreement, which creates conflict. As renowned mediator and peacemaker Kenneth Cloke explains, for a “conflict, … there has to be diversity, meaning differences of opinion…. Without diversity, there’s no conflict…. [One way people try] to stop … conflicts [is] by eliminating diversity.” In other words, the “elimination of diversity” is a “conflict resolution” strategy.

Censorship is one way of “eliminating” diversity.

Another approach involves defining diversity out of existence. For example, insisting that all human beings are cisgender and straight – that people born with a penis are always straight males and people born with a vagina are always straight females. There is no diversity regarding sexual orientation and gender identity because LGBTQ+ people have been defined out of existence. To the extent that such people appear to exist under those circumstances, it is only because they are confused, suffer from a mental illness, have been “groomed” or “indoctrinated” into such a “lifestyle,” etc.

Sexual Orientation Change Efforts (SOCE), commonly known as reparative therapy, conversion therapy, or ex-gay therapy exist to “erase” diversity pertaining to human sexuality and are based solely upon the premise that LGBTQ+ people do not actually exist. We are perceived as broken because we have “same-sex attraction” and/or our gender identity fails to align with the male or female gender assigned to us at birth by a third party, even newborns born with genitals, chromosomes or reproductive organs that do not properly fit into a male/female sex binary category.

For instance, Brian Tingley, a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, filed a case to have a ban against such “therapy” overturned for unconstitutionally violating his First Amendment right to free speech. On Dec. 11, 2023, the United States Supreme Court rejected his appeal of a decision upholding the ban on the basis that it regulated his professional conduct and not his speech. He describes himself as a “Christian therapist” and his court papers stated that he “‘believes that the sex each person receives at conception is not an accident or error but rather a gift from God’ and that sexual relationships should only occur ‘between one man and one woman mutually committed through marriage.’” Two licensed Marriage and Family Therapists successfully challenged a ban in Florida and were awarded $175,000 in damages against Palm Beach County and the City of Boca Raton. The court found that the ban unconstitutionally regulated their free speech.

What makes these legal challenges particularly concerning, aside from the reality that some of them prevail, is that they are brought by licensed mental health professionals. At the July 2017 luncheon for the San Gabriel Valley Psychological Association, the then California Psychological Association President Douglas Haldeman, an internationally recognized scholar in the areas of sexuality, culture, and mental health, reminded the members that “the mission of the American Psychological Association is to advance the creation, communication and application of psychological knowledge to benefit society and improve people’s lives.” He also noted California Psychological Association’s mission statement, which is, “CPA supports our members’ professional interests, promotes and protects the science and practice of psychology, and advocates for the health and welfare of all Californians.” One point he made very clear is that psychologists whose faith-based beliefs take precedence over scientific and social science research should be practicing as pastoral counselors, not mental health providers. While the above-referenced mental health professionals are licensed Marriage and Family Therapists, it requires engaging in brain twists to rationalize a distinction in that regard.

According to a new report from The Trevor Project titled “It’s Still Happening,” more than 1,320 such “therapists” currently practice in the United States, including within the 22 states that have banned such “therapy.”

The following is information from the Minnesota Department of Health set forth in its “Summary of Findings: A Review of Scientific Evidence of Conversion Therapy,” issued on April 11, 2022:

“Conversion therapy is based on the now discredited belief … that being lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer or questioning (LGBTQ+) is an illness that should be cured….

“MDH did not find scientific studies to support the effectiveness of conversion therapy practices.

“Scientific, medical, and education communities reject conversion therapy because it lacks scientific validation, poses health risks to the people and communities involved, and contributes to health and social inequities, [including causing people to become] more likely to experience serious psychological distress or depression; more likely to engage in illicit drug use; more likely to attempt suicide; and more likely to die from suicide.”

Yet another means of “eliminating” diversity involves segregation and criminalization, in which case differences are “eliminated” by forced sterilization, segregating “it” behind bars or otherwise, and even subjecting people to the death penalty – Kill the Gays laws, for example. Genocide (including cultural genocide) is the most extreme means of “eliminating” diversity.

Unless diversity is completely “eliminated” through an actual and successful genocide, the differences are merely “erased” (defined out of existence, for example), “hidden” (such as “Hidden Figures” – the title of a 2016 movie about brilliant African American women who worked for NASA as human computers in the early 1960s), kept closeted (non-disclosure), or segregated and/or criminalized (some form of segregation with or without prison bars involved). Regardless, the intention or purpose underlying the effort is to “eliminate” diversity.

Bear in mind that the only reason anyone would try to “eliminate” diversity is because they have “issues” with it. Most often, those “issues” stem from an unfair personal opinion which influences one’s judgment – the definition of bias.

For example, regarding homosexuality, the following is from an article titled “Understanding sexual orientation and homosexuality,” published by the American Psychological Association 16 years ago in 2008:

“No, lesbian, gay, and bisexual orientations are not disorders. Research has found no inherent association between any of these sexual orientations and psychopathy. Both heterosexual behavior and homosexual behavior are normal aspects of human sexuality. Both have been documented in many different cultures and historical eras. Despite the persistence of stereotypes that portray lesbian, gay, and bisexual people as disturbed, several decades of research and clinical experience have led all mainstream medical and mental health organizations in this country to conclude that these orientations represent normal forms of human experience. Lesbian, gay, and bisexual relationships are normal forms of human bonding. Therefore, these mainstream organizations long ago abandoned classifications of homosexuality as a mental disorder….

“Therapies promoted to modify sexual orientation … appears to be especially likely for lesbian, gay, and bisexual individuals who grow up in more conservative religious settings.”

Many people claiming not to be biased against homosexuals also support “Don’t Say Gay” laws and the like. How can a person believe that homosexuality is a normal aspect of human diversity; yet fear that any positive representation or mention of homosexuality amounts to “grooming” or “indoctrination” of children to become homosexual or to “live a homosexual lifestyle?” They can’t! That fear is based upon “the idea of the gay community ‘recruiting’ children through child abuse to become homosexual themselves … for the survival and growth of homosexuality… since homosexuals cannot reproduce, they must recruit, must freshen their ranks.” I grew up hearing that statement from Anita Bryant, the “Save Our Children” and “Protect Our Children” campaign, the “Moral Majority,” which influenced the Republican party and now controls it, and I have continued hearing similar such things ever since. It is impossible to believe such a thing without also believing persistent stereotypes.

Merriam-Webster Dictionary states, “Stereotype is most frequently now employed to refer to an often unfair and untrue belief that many people have about all people or things with a particular characteristic.”

Without the bias, the desire to protect children from being “groomed” and “indoctrinated” into the LGBTQ+ “lifestyle” would not exist. This is about fear, which is the emotion that protects us from perceived danger.

Straight people can no more be “groomed” and “indoctrinated” to “live a gay lifestyle” than I could ever have been “groomed” and “indoctrinated” to be straight or to “live a Black lifestyle,” which includes my skin changing color. Although I am a male, my sexual orientation is the same as that of a female who is 100% straight. Perceiving gay males as child sexual predators because they are males sexually attracted to other males makes as much sense as saying that straight females are child sexual predators because they are attracted to males or that all males are child sexual predators, and that sexual orientation only determines the gender of the children upon whom they prey.

There is also no way in which I could ever have been “groomed” and “indoctrinated” into believing that I was a straight woman in a man’s body because I have always been sexually attracted exclusively to males, which by no means implies all males or that I would enjoy being raped by men. That is the same as claiming that straight females enjoy being raped by men. Jurors have sentenced gay men to the death penalty rather than life imprisonment on the apparent belief that gay men like being raped - Charles Rhines, for instance. The following is from an article titled “Discriminatory Use of Death Penalty Against Gays Raises Concerns Globally and in the U.S.,” published by the Death Penalty Information Center in 2019:

“At Rhines’ trial, prosecution witnesses testified that he was gay and, according to jurors, ‘[t]here was lots of discussion of homosexuality’ during sentencing deliberations. ‘There was a lot of disgust. … There were lots of folks who were like, ‘Ew, I can’t believe that.’’ In a 2016 sworn statement, juror Frances Cersosimo reported that one juror said, ‘If he’s gay, we’d be sending him where he wants to go’ by sentencing Rhines to life in an all-male prison. Juror Harry Keeney said in a sworn statement, ‘We also knew he was a homosexual and thought he shouldn’t be able to spend his life with men in prison.’”

The disgust experienced by those jurors cannot be ignored because it is the emotion associated with perceptions of immorality and which protects us from our perceived threat of being poisoned physically and socially. The immorality associated with disgust pertains to a person’s character. Nothing the individual achieves in their life can ever overcome the perception that they are immoral, an abomination, moral decay, and the like.

In her book “Atlas of the Heart,” social science researcher Brene’ Brown says the following about disgust:

“We’ve taken an emotion that keeps us safe from the stuff that can make us sick and turned it into an emotion that can be weaponized against people who make us sick, simply because we either disagree with them or they are different from us. One example of this is the dangerous relationship between disgust and dehumanization. Researchers Maria Miceli and Cristiano Castelfranchi found that reactions of disgust can rapidly lead to dehumanizing, othering, and marginalizing individuals or groups of people….

“They go on to explain how ‘moral disgust is even more dangerous because of its dehumanizing implications. Disgusting people, if no longer viewed as persons, can suffer much more than ‘othering’ and marginalization.’ Once we dehumanize people, violence and cruelty toward them become easier to perpetuate because the parts of us that are hardwired to not hurt other people turn off – in our minds, we’ve stripped them of their humanity.

“Another difference that makes disgust more dangerous is that once a target is viewed with disgust, this judgment seems to be permanent; evaluations of disgust seem to indicate a reprehensible moral character that is immutable and unforgivable.”

If someone is not biased against homosexuals, why does it make a difference to them whether someone is gay, bisexual, or straight, which also means not fearing that if they do not raise their children properly, something they or someone else may do could cause their child or any child to “live an LGBTQ+ lifestyle?”

Then, there are those individuals who claim to “love the sinner, hate the sin.” Absent bias, why separate the normal and unchangeable characteristic sexual orientation with acting on it? Using myself as an example because I cannot attest to anyone else’s sexuality, it is a physical impossibility for me to perform sexually with any female. So, when someone says such a thing, they are saying that they “love” me provided I live my entire life celibate and alone. With such “love,” who needs hate? What harm am I causing anyone by not being celibate, when it is consensual with another legally competent adult male? The bias has to do with disgust and/or fear, as reflected in the following beliefs held by our current Speaker of the House, Mike Johnson:

● Sex between men “poses a distinct public health problem.”

● “Decriminalizing gay sex could lead to legalization of prostitution and illicit drug use.”

● “Your race, creed, and sex are what you are, while homosexuality and cross-dressing are things you do. This is a free country, but we don’t give special protections for every person’s bizarre choices.”

● “Homosexuality is an ‘inherently unnatural and dangerous lifestyle’ that would end up in the legalization of pedophilia and even potentially destroying the ‘entire democratic system.’”

How exactly? My husband and I have been together since May of 2009. We could not marry until after the Supreme Court granted us that right on June 28, 2013, which was the year before the marriage equality decision. We have been completely monogamous from the outset, unlike many straight couples. We do not use illicit drugs. How does the non-criminalization of our having sex with each other lead to the legalization of prostitution? How is it a “bizarre,” “inherently unnatural and dangerous lifestyle,” considering that it is and always has been in accordance with our innate, unchangeable, and normal (for us) sexual orientation? How would it end up in the legalization of pedophilia? Adults marrying children is legal in most U.S. states, including California. Such legalized pedophilia typically involves adult males marrying underage girls with parental and/or court consent. I can almost guarantee that such consent is not given when it involves adult men and underage boys. This example of pedophilia is already legal in this country and tends to be engaged in by cisgender straight adult males, typically those from conservative religious backgrounds. How homosexuality could potentially destroy the “entire democratic system” is a stretch for me; however, people excel at rationalizing pretty much anything they want themselves and others to believe.

If people sincerely believe that it is a sin for sexual relations to occur outside of the context of a marriage and with anyone other than one’s spouse, isn’t opposing same-sex marriage making it impossible for homosexuals to have sex in a non-sinful manner? I have long believed that the religious-based opposition to same-sex marriage involves making it impossible for gays and lesbians to engage in sex with anyone of their same gender without it being a sin.

Some gays and lesbians can and do engage in sex that goes against their innate, unchangeable, and normal sexual orientation. It depends upon where they fall on the spectrum of human sexuality. Straight people can and do similar such things; although, not due to judgment, shame, and shunning. To the extent they engage in sex that runs counter to their innate, unchangeable, and normal sexual orientation, it is due to a lack of availability, such as prison populations. When the issue of lack of availability is resolved upon release from prison, for instance, engaging in sex that runs counter to their innate, unchangeable, and normal sexual orientation ends.

Along those lines, many years ago I learned something that shocked even myself. The states with the highest percentage of LGBTQ+ people raising children (not as same-sex couples) are currently Idaho and Utah. The states with the next highest percentages are currently Nebraska, Kansas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Mississippi, Indiana, Ohio, West Virginia, South Carolina, New Hampshire, and Delaware. Generally, the reason for this is not that those LGBTQ+ people are more likely to adopt children in those states; rather, it is because LGBTQ+ people procreated (typically with cisgender straight people) within and outside of marriages to try and “fit in” and not experience judgment, shame, shunning, and other such things. They did what my mother wanted me to do, and which led to our estrangement when I refused. This has long been a reality caused by sexual prejudice against LGBTQ+ people. For what it is worth, House Speaker Mike Johnson said the following about same-sex marriage:

“Homosexual marriage is the dark harbinger of chaos and sexual anarchy that could doom even the strongest republic.”

Johnson is by no means alone in such beliefs.

People often insist not to be biased against LGBTQ+ people, while contending that we should just keep it to ourselves and “stop shoving it in [their] faces.” That is “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” which is a conflict avoidance technique. I did that by pretending to be straight, until I started coming out when I was 28 years old, and have continued thereafter, depending upon the circumstances involved. My screen saver on my cell phone has been a wedding picture of me and my husband since we married in 2014. I would have to remove that picture to pretend to be straight. When socializing, I would have to go without my spouse and with a pretend wife or girlfriend, unless I wanted to pretend that I was single or that I was married to a woman who was unavailable for some reason. When speaking about my husband or significant other before we married, I would have to change his name and gender. These are only a few examples of the code-switching required for LGBTQ+ people to keep the fact that they are not cisgender and straight to themselves. It is not easy, and it is incredibly unfair and harmful to the LGBTQ+ person. Arguably even worse, by pretending to be cisgender and straight, we never would have gained any civil and human rights, and we would likely lose those rights even faster than is already occurring in this country. If those making such requests and demands are not biased against us, what is it with their wanting us to keep it to ourselves?

On Dec. 11, 2023, the Daily Journal published an article by Erwin Chemerinsky titled “A new McCarthy Era” because of governmental efforts to ban antisemitism at schools and universities in this country. The McCarthy Era was a time in our country’s history known as the Red Scare. The Lavender Scare was a moral panic about LGBTQ+ people which contributed to and paralleled McCarthyism. It centered around the same stereotypes against LGBTQ+ people mentioned above. Back then, homosexuality was criminalized here, and it was considered a mental disorder. That is no longer the case, which makes “Don’t Say Gay” laws, efforts to ban drag shows, and banning of books that even mention the existence of people and any other species not being completely cisgender and heterosexual, and other such things far more terrifying today.

According to social science researcher Brene’ Brown, empathy is incompatible with shame and judgment. Empathy involves understanding. The reason why empathy is incompatible with shame and judgment is because empathy involves an understanding that is not feasible due to unchecked biases, which cause people to constrict and distort the information they are able and willing to receive, try to understand, and consider in a fair manner. The more constricted and distorted the information people receive, understand, and fairly consider, the more impaired is the thinking involved.

The title of this column, Balanced Scale, refers to the scale of justice, which is described on the Supreme Court’s website as “symbolizing the impartial deliberation, or ‘weighing’ of two sides in a legal dispute.” Some synonyms for “impartial” are fair, just, objective, and unbiased.


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