Newspaper Coverage Shows Anti-Homosexual Bias, Study Alleges

Lawrence Morahan | Senior Staff Writer | Tuesday, September 16, 2003

Newspaper Coverage Shows Anti-Homosexual Bias, Study Alleges

( - An examination of more than 1,300 newspaper reports on the sexual abuse scandal in the Catholic Church has revealed the coverage reinforced inaccurate and misleading stereotypes of homosexual men as child abusers, a new study by a homosexual advocacy group says.

The linking of homosexuality and child sexual abuse in stories by Boston Globe reporters during 2002 was not necessarily intentional, said psychologists Dr. Glenda Russell and Nancy Kelly, authors of "Subtle Stereotyping: The Media, Homosexuality and the Priest Sexual Abuse Scandal."

However, "Linkages don't have to be intentional to be harmful. The stereotype of gay-man-as-pedophile gets used in many policy contexts to justify discrimination and violence against gay people," Russell, a senior researcher with the Institute for Gay and Lesbian Strategic Studies (IGLSS), said in a release.

Independent social science research is quite clear that male homosexuals are not more likely to commit child sexual abuse than non-homosexual men, Russell asserted.

Russell's findings, however, are sharply at odds with the views of Robert Knight, director of the Culture and Family Institute with Concerned Women for America.

"Since one-third to one-half of all child molestations are committed by men against boys, and homosexual men comprise less than 2 percent of the population. This means that the ratio of child molesters among homosexuals is far, far higher than among the rest of the population," Knight said.

"This doesn't mean all homosexuals molest children, but it means that the problem is far greater within the homosexual community, and the Catholic scandal only underlines that point. More than 80 percent of the victims were teenage boys molested by homosexual priests," Knight added.

The IGLSS report also criticized the news media's placement of stories related to the priest sex abuse scandal alongside descriptions of other inappropriate behaviors. The frequent emphasis of the victim's gender also helped create a misleading association between homosexuality and abuse, the report stated.

The IGLSS did not return calls seeking comment. In their report, however, the authors urged journalists to exercise greater vigilance to eliminate stereotyping and to consult with communication specialists when appropriate.

Knight also disputed the authors' findings of media bias in reporting on homosexuals and crime as "an example of wishing something would go away that is glaringly obvious.

"They're heavily into damage control because they know that the dark underside of the Catholic sex scandal is the uncovering of the network of gay priests in the seminaries and in the churches.

"As the Church cleans up its act, we hope people will realize this was a homosexual problem, not a pedophile problem. After all, most of the victims were teenagers, not small children," Knight said.

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