Commentary

In 'Sun' op-ed, Johns Hopkins faculty members disavow report on gender, sexuality

Several Johns Hopkins University faculty members authored a Baltimore Sun op-ed in which they express concerns about a recent report that they say mischaracterizes the current state of science on gender and sexuality.

They note that the report, "Sexuality and Gender: Findings from the Biological and Psychological and Social Sciences," was "not published in the scientific literature, where it would have been subject to rigorous peer review prior to publication. It purports to detail the science of this area, but it falls short of being a comprehensive review."

The report, published last month by The New Atlantis, was co-authored by Paul R. McHugh, a professor of psychiatry at Johns Hopkins University's School of Medicine; and Lawrence S. Mayer, an Arizona State statistician who formerly held faculty appointments at JHU.

Among its more controversial assertions: That there is no scientific evidence to support the idea that sexual orientation is a biologically fixed property; that is, homosexual people are not "born that way." With regards to transgender people, McHugh and Mayer suggest "a skeptical view toward the claim that sex-reassignment procedures provide the hoped-for benefits."

In their op-ed, Chris Beyrer, Robert W. Blum, and Tonia C. Poteat—all faculty members at JHU's Bloomberg School of Public Health—dispute those and other conclusions in the report. Six other JHU faculty members also contributed to the op-ed, The Sun notes.

From The Sun:

Science, and particularly the fields of psychiatry and psychology, has made major advances in our understanding of the complex issues of sexual orientation and gender identity. For instance, accumulating data support the concept that gender identity is not strictly a binary phenomenon. And scientific evidence clearly documents that sexual and romantic attractions to people of the same and/or different sexes are normal variations of the diversity of human sexuality.

The authors add that though they support academic freedom, a commitment to scientific debate "means we must engage the dialogue in a circumstance such as this, and not stand silently by."

We wish to make clear that there are many people at Hopkins who hold a profound and long-standing commitment to the health, wellness, well-being, and fair and non-stigmatizing treatment of LGBTQ people and communities. We do not believe that the "Sexuality and Gender" report cited above is a comprehensive portrayal of the current science, and we respectfully disassociate ourselves from its findings.

Read more from The Baltimore Sun

Posted in Voices+Opinion

Tagged lgbtq life

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