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Petitioning USA Today Heidi Zimmerman and 1 other

USA Today: Apologize & Retract Anti-Gay Robert Knight's Attack on Gay Community


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Supporters

The USA Today has published an op-ed by noted anti-gay activist Robert Knight about the Boy Scouts, in which he falsely and dangerously links being gay with being a pedophile.

Knight claims in his piece that allowing some local troops to stop discriminating against gay scouts and volunteers would "be a real and present danger to the boys, as vividly illustrated by the still-simmering molestation scandal involving priests." Knight continues:

"A 1994 book, Scout's Honor by investigative reporter Patrick Boyle, revealed 1,800 cases in which Scout leaders had been dismissed for abusing boys. In 2010, a jury awarded $18.5 million to a man abused by a pedophilic Scoutmaster. Given all this, it's unfathomable for the Scouts to flirt with the idea of opening their ranks to males attracted to other males. Some of the perpetrators were married, but they obviously had same-sex inclinations."

GLAAD asked if USA Today stood by giving a platform for an anti-gay activist to make these false claims, but they have been silent. We also asked if the editorial board agreed that "putting openly gay men and boys into Scout troops would be a direct violation of that oath" to be "morally straight."

Sign this petition today and ask USA Today  to apologize for sharing factually inaccurate information and retract the column.

Experts agree that being attracted to children, no matter what gender, cannot ever be correctly classified as being a "same-sex inclination." Experts on this matter generally classify sex abusers into one of two categories; neither of which can even remotely be described as “gay.” Research by A. Nicholas Groth, a psychologist and pioneer in the study of sexual abuse of children, shows that most sex abusers largely either a) find all adult sex repulsive, or b) are heterosexual in their adult relationships.

Medical and psychological experts agree that there is no link whatsoever between sexual orientation and the abuse of children. According to the American Psychological Association, gay men “are not more likely to sexually abuse children than heterosexual men are."

Anti-gay activists who attempt to make connections between these stories and the LGBT community are being fraudulent. The APA says claims like the one made by Knight are “generally grounded in prejudice against, and stereotypes about, gay people.”

The USA Today's editorial policies should have caught these claims in Knight's op-ed, run them through any reasonable fact-checking procedure, and thrown the op-ed out for containing false and harmful information. Instead, the USA Today lent its own credibility to Knight's lies and stereotypes.

When anti-gay columnist Cal Thomas made these same claims in the wake of the Jerry Sandusky story in a piece he wrote for Tribune Media, Tribune Media retraced the column and published this apology:

A column distributed by Tribune Media Services, Inc., by Cal Thomas, for release Nov. 15, 2011, headlined "Penn State's Shame and Ours," contained questionable analogies between the Penn State child-sexual abuse scandal and the lives of gays and lesbians. TMS in no way sees a connection between the two and regrets that the column could be interpreted in this fashion. Society's evolving and enlightened view of gay men and lesbians has no connection with any potential trend in attitudes toward child sexual abuse; nor should any suggestion be made that homosexuals are likely to be pedophiles, which is refuted by research. The rigorous checks and balances at TMS normally in place to review the accuracy and suitability of column material did not work in this case. TMS apologizes for the error.

We have reached out to the USA Today and asked that they do the same.

Letter to
USA Today Heidi Zimmerman
USA Today David Mastio
Dear USA Today,

Recently you allowed noted anti-gay activist Robert Knight to draw false and dangerous connections between the gay community and the sexual abuse of minors in an op-ed, despite the fact that experts have rejected these connections for years. Please retract this column and apologize to your readers who are gay, or who have gay loved ones, for not having caught these harmful stereotypes in Knight’s column.

When anti-gay writer Cal Thomas made similar claims in a column about Jerry Sandusky, Tribune Media said:

A column distributed by Tribune Media Services, Inc., by Cal Thomas, for release Nov. 15, 2011, headlined "Penn State's Shame and Ours," contained questionable analogies between the Penn State child-sexual abuse scandal and the lives of gays and lesbians. TMS in no way sees a connection between the two and regrets that the column could be interpreted in this fashion. Society's evolving and enlightened view of gay men and lesbians has no connection with any potential trend in attitudes toward child sexual abuse; nor should any suggestion be made that homosexuals are likely to be pedophiles, which is refuted by research. The rigorous checks and balances at TMS normally in place to review the accuracy and suitability of column material did not work in this case. TMS apologizes for the error.

I ask that you do something similar in this case.