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American College of Pediatricians Defames Gays and Lesbians in the Name of Protecting Children

Along with NARTH, a deceptively named pediatricians’ group is a second primary source used vilify gay people.

The National Association for Research and Therapy of Homosexuality (NARTH) is not the only game in town when it comes to providing “scientific” support for anti-gay groups. The American College of Pediatricians (ACPeds) has done as much to defame gays and lesbians, all in the name of protecting children.

A professional organization for socially conservative pediatricians and healthcare professionals, the group has taken a number of hard-line positions when it comes to LGBT rights, advocating for a prohibition against adoption rights for same-sex couples and also offering high praise for reparative therapy.

Like NARTH, ACPeds was born from an ideological split within a profession. It was founded in 2002 as a protest against the much larger American Academy of Pediatrics’ support for LGBT adoption rights — and that opposition remains central to the group’s identity.

ACPeds is believed to have no more than 200 members, a tiny fraction of the nearly 60,000 professionals who belong to the American Academy of Pediatrics.

But thanks to its deceptive name — which makes it sound as if it is the mainstream professional organization for pediatricians — ACPeds often serves as a supposedly scientific source for groups pushing utter falsehoods about LGBT people.

A prime example of that came on Nov. 29, 2010, when Family Research Council President Tony Perkins cited it on MSNBC’s “Hardball With Chris Matthews” to “prove” that “the research is overwhelming that homosexuality poses a danger to children.” Perkins, who was debating Intelligence Report Editor Mark Potok at the time, was referring to bogus claims that gay men molest children at far higher rates than others. The truth, as the American Psychological Association says in an official statement, is that “homosexual men are not more likely to sexually abuse children than heterosexual men are.”

Dr. Joseph Zanga, who heads ACPeds, described what he hoped his group would become: “essentially a Judeo-Christian, traditional-values organization ... open to membership for pediatric medical professionals of all religions who hold our core beliefs ... that life begins at conception and that the traditional family unit, headed by an opposite-sex couple, poses far fewer risk factors.”

With that mission statement to guide its work, ACPeds has worked closely with a number of groups pushing an anti-gay agenda, including Mat Staver’s Liberty Counsel and NARTH, which teamed up with ACPeds in 2008 to oppose an American Psychological Association (APA) pamphlet titled “Just the Facts About Sexual Orientation and Youth.”

In a statement about the pamphlet, ACPeds said the APA was a “gay-affirming program” that “devalues self-restraint,” promotes a “denial of biologically rooted gender differences,” and supports “a child’s autonomy from the authority of both family and religion, and from the limits and norms these institutions place on children.” ACPeds printed its own version of the pamphlet, “Facts About Youth” in 2010. Both the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Psychological Association described the booklet as non-factual.

In fact, several individual researchers — including Francis Collins, the director of the National Institutes of Health — said the handbook misrepresented their findings. “It is disturbing to me to see special interest groups distort my scientific observations to make a point against homosexuality,” Collins said. “The information they present is misleading and incorrect.”