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Tony Perkins Says Being Gay Makes Kids Mentally Diseased. Science Calls Big Fat Bullshit On Him

In the Washington Post, Family Research Council head Tony Perkins argued that it’s because gay children are being told they cannot change their sexuality that they are killing themselves — and not because of institutional homophobia aimed at them by adults, churches, politicians, and school administrators. We always knew Perkins was an outrageous liar. Now here’s the irrefutable evidence.

“There is an abundance of evidence that homosexuals experience higher rates of mental health problems in general, including depression,” Perkins wrote (failing to mention the study he cites also says “discrimination may help fuel these higher rates,” the very point he says is impossible). “However, there is no empirical evidence to link this with society’s general disapproval of homosexual conduct. In fact, evidence from the Netherlands [Ed: A country whose healthy experience with openly gay servicemembers Mr. Perkins refuses to acknowledge] would seem to suggest the opposite, because even in that most ‘gay-friendly’ country on earth, research has shown homosexuals to have much higher mental health problems. Within the homosexual population, such mental health problems are higher among those who ‘come out of the closet’ at an earlier age. Yet GLSEN’s approach is to encourage teens to ‘come out’ when younger and younger–thus likely exacerbating the very problem they claim they want to solve.”

Perkins is right: LGBT teens do have higher instances of depression. But not mental health illness. And not problems caused by their sexuality.

Researchers at the University of Illinois at Chicago conducted a study that’s billed as “the first to report the frequency of mental disorders in LGBT youth using the criteria of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fourth Edition (DSM-IV). Previous studies have relied on questionnaire-type surveys which, the authors suggest, may overestimate mental disorders in certain groups.”

And what did they find? That while a full one-third of LGBT youth attempt suicide, they are not mentally diseased. The conclusions, published in December’s American Journal of Public Health, point-by-point refute the bloviation of Perkins and his ilk.

Insists Perkins: “Some homosexuals may recognize intuitively that their same-sex attractions are abnormal–yet they have been told by the homosexual movement, and their allies in the media and the educational establishment, that they are ‘born gay’ and can never change. This–and not society’s disapproval–may create a sense of despair that can lead to suicide. … Since homosexual conduct is associated with higher rates of sexual promiscuity, sexually transmitted diseases, mental illness, substance abuse, and domestic violence, it too qualifies as a behavior that is harmful to the people who engage in it and to society at large. It is not loving to encourage someone to indulge in such activities, no matter how much sensual pleasure they may derive from them. It is more loving to help them overcome them. This is why, in the public policy arena, we will continue to oppose any policy or action that would celebrate or affirm homosexual conduct.”

Funny, because these researchers found that among their 246 “ethnically diverse” 16- to 20-year-old LGBT sampling in Chicago, 70 percent met no criteria of mental disorder. “One of the most important findings from our work is that most of these youth are doing very well and are not experiencing mental health problems,” says Dr. Brian Mustanski, a clinical psychologist and the study’s author, as well as a UIC psychiatry assistant professor.

The data did show some six percent had attempted suicide in the past year; 10 percent showed symptoms of PTSD; and 15 percent could be diagnosed as clinically depressed.

But does them being queer make them more susceptible to being fucked in the head? Hell to the no, says Mustanski. “The big question is, are these youth more likely to have mental disorders relative to other kids? And the answer to that is that it really depends on who you’re comparing them to.” (Newswire notes: “LGBT youths in the study had a higher prevalence of mental disorders than youths in national samples, but were similar to other samples of urban, racial and ethnic minority youths,” which throws cold water on the “it’s because they’re gay” theory. And: “The researchers also looked at differences between sub-groups of LGBT youth to determine if bisexual youth tend to have more mental health problems than gay and lesbian youth, or if racial-minority youth experience more mental health problems than white youth. Contrary to previous research that suggested that bisexual youth are more likely to have mental disorders than other groups, Mustanski found just the opposite. Bisexual youths had a lower prevalence of mental disorders compared with others in the study.”)

Will this data put a damper on Perkins running his mouth about how simply being LGBT makes a young person more likely to have a mental disease? Of course not. But we never expected rational thinking out of this guy. Nor do we expect him to consider that preaching to children they were born monsters might have just a little something to do with how their mental states develop.

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  • ewe

    Tony Perkins has a smelly crusty asshole.

  • tavdy79

    The above article, in short form:

    Being gay doesn’t make you mentally ill. Being gay and from the same planet as Tony Perkins is a far more likely explanation.

  • P:CE

    The only thing that’s damaged is the heart when incidents like this happen. . .everything starts from feelings, and then your mind adjusts to them. . .if only people could agree to disagree with this whole topic of homosexuals. . .in other words, hardcore conservative “straight” people will never understand the inner workings of how same sex attraction works, so there is no point in arguing. . .it’s up to those close-minded people to change their thinking for the greater good.

  • mike85

    If what Perkins is saying were true, why didn’t he succeed in killing himself then?

    Just a thought.

  • P:CE

    @P:CE: just wanted to add, it’s never good to say never considering that a lot of gay issues are being handled today with a lot more logic than back in the day. . .so there is progress being made :)

  • Mr. Enemabag Jones

    Since so many readers bitch about Queerty’s content, I just want to say this is one of the best articles posted on Queerty this year. Good research, and great writing. Excellent work.

  • Mike

    Let’s just wait for Chris Matthews to invite Perkins on “Hardball” to defend his comments since Matthews said to Perkins on his last visit “You’re always welcome on this show”. (After he gave him time to defend his org from the hate group designation of the SPLC).

  • Cam

    Oh, I’m sorry, is this supposedly straight man still obsession and talking exclusively about gays, gay sex, gay gay gay?

    Gee, Tony, you think about “Gay” more than we do…..what exactly are you hiding?

  • Michael

    This is a tough one. What is depression? A mental illness, a disease, a disorder? We now define alcoholism a disease, yet, nobody would be an alcoholic in the absence of alcohol. So, I guess alcoholism is a self-inflicted disease? Queerty says; “Perkins is right: LGBT teens do have higher instances of depression.” My question is, why is this? Whatever depression is, or is not, is it safe to conclude that people make what might be considered to be bad decisions while under the influence of depression? Or maybe not. Tell me.

  • Kev C

    Tony Perkins never studied psychology while at Liberty University (haha), but he did stay at a Holiday Inn.

  • McMike

    If anyone deserves to be shot it’s Mr. Perkins.

  • Mack Robertson

    Why is Ms. Perkins so obsessed with gays? There is something very strange going on in his mind. Maybe mental illness?

  • Ken S

    Is it just me or does every picture of Tony Perkins look like his face is missing something… like a hammer, embedded in it?

    Goddamn, I hate this morally vacuous man-ferret.

  • Mack Robertson

    @Ken S: I see him as an emaciated, ugly drag queen.@Ken S:

  • Dan

    Press has been giving this Tony Jerkin too much of attention.

  • prohomo

    @Michael: I don’t get what you’re trying to say.making bad decisions when depressed? As in choosing homosexuality when feeling down?! Huh?
    The answer is obvious, MICHAEL. Society’s homophobia causes great unrest amongst bisexual/gay youth. That in turn causes great discord within, etc. Nonetheless, there’s still a hesitant, cynical uncomfortable part of me that thinks that though most of our suffering comes from a world that hates same sex anything, being exclusively homo is suffocatingly narrow and limiting, unlike bisexual, which I would love to be more like.

  • jason

    I have to say that I partly agree with Tony Perkins. The gay community is very stuck on the straight or gay paradigm, something that is complete bullshit. Human sexuality is a spectrum in which people are distributed onto points along the the spectrum line.

    Thus, it is completely possible for some people – and I stress “some” – to decide that one direction is their preferred option. This doesn’t mean that their sexual orientation is a choice, it simply means that they have made a choice regarding their sexual behavior. Their sexual orientation doesn’t change, however.

    Where I disagree with Tony is with his notion that those who are oriented in an exclusively homosexual direction – or a predominantly homosexual direction – must completely change their orientation or their behavior in order to be considered worthwhile members of society. This is where I call Tony out on his bullshit.

  • jason

    Another thing, what Tony Perkins fails – deliberately or otherwise – to understand is that attitudes like his contribute to the difficulties that gay youth face. You wouldn’t want to have him for a father, would you?

  • Franklin

    The poster boy for the modern day terrorist. And the leader of a hate group.


    God, When the fuck are the skeletons going to come tumbling out of this vile scumbags closet?

    He has been obsessing over all things Gay for years. I personally am disgusted by vile hate filled bigots who spew disgusting rhetoric. I try my best not to think about them, do not obsess about them as this scumbag does about all things Gay……………

  • chimmy

    I think that Psychologists, and Psychiatrists many years ago, deemed that being gay was not a mental disorder or a psychological distressor. This guy is absolutely a nincompoop, (msp?)He should be playing with play doh and eating crayons. Stupidity runs deep in his family.

  • meego

    Earth to Tony : This is 2010. Not 1910!

  • JusticeontheRocks

    He’s not in 1910, more like 2010 B.C.

  • Kenny

    With folks like Tony Perkins running around spreading this nonsense, it’s a shame no organization in the gay community has worked to re-release or tour the documentary (Changing our Minds) about Dr. Evelyn Hooker. Her research had a positive impact on the life of every gay person in America.

  • Joe

    We’re depressed because of assholes like you that put us down. Duh…

  • demonyc

    Truly mentally ill are not restricted from marrying and have rights against bigotry and even get special programs to help them. By our rules or yours, there’s still no reason to discriminate against us except for your Christianist horror movie.

  • prohomo

    @chimmy: You “think”?! Thata fact. Homosexuality was declassified as a mental illness in 1968, I believe. Tha’s very important because Psychologits and Psychiatrists demonized homosexual;ity as much as Judaeo-Christians. I t bothers me that as of the early eighties, many therapsts still saw homo/bisexuality as a disorder. Shame on them.

  • Brentinpdx

    Perkins… do humanity a favor.. Check the fuck out!

  • Duh

    Ummm depression is a mental illness.

  • Don

    The homosexual problem is not much different than a pathological liar, looking the at the main point from the positive result to go back as a straight gender. The other side is supported by science and psychology. If the person born with biological deficiencies, there is no discuss about the course of their feelings toward a male partner.

    The results of some of the research made by psychologists, they suggest that people psychologically can change their same-sex attractions. The results of scientific researches are from easy proof to theoretical explanations.

    If the person born with biological deficiencies, such as low-testosterone production, and reduced brain’s testosterone absorption, then, it is up to science to find the answer to correct and prevent the problem.

    There is a particular social problem with the rule of supply and demand in the gay community. The more gays are in the community, it is common to meet the crown. Some gay are excellent motivator to attract more members and partners. By the way, lesbians had developed a better technic to convince others females to join them.

    There is always a person asking for negative topic, the porpuse is to find out their emotional status. Most of us found a person at the school asking us about a horrible teacher and class. If the answer is positive, then he found a potential member for the team. The combination of emotional status and self-esteem is the main reason to join the gay members.

    An individual can be found himself in some situations, such as economical problems, drug consumption, and verbally and/or physically harassed by parents or relatives. If the individual is in any or a combination of those situations, then he will be an easy prey for to be carry in the team and begin the brain wash.

    Gays offer support to potential members with the purporse to acquire more members for their personal use or to join the team.

    This is how psychologically a person can turn into homosexual. Now, how a person can override those effects?

    It a difficult task taking in account the economical resources, mental status, determination, and support available.

    If the person does not have enough economical resources to pay for the professional help, he will likely get an unqualified help, which it might get worse the condition or at least he will be confused. This is the symbol of going back to the gay community and possibly harming himself.

    If his mental status is positive, that is an indication of finding himself with the wrong crowd. The next step will be to find the right help to get his mind right.

    If his determination is to get out of the gay community, that is a better signal to find himself out of the confusion.

    The most significant factor to help homosexuals, it is the perfect professional doctor and psychologist. The doctor will examine for any biological problem and the psychologist will examine the mental information to find the source of the problem.

    The time invested to change the mind in the gay adventure, it is directly proportional to time in changing the mind to the original status. Which it means that the longer and deeper the person take his adventure in the gay community, it is the longer that the person will need to cure his mental instability.

  • Jeffree

    Please try using clearer English in your posts. The Google translator you used makes many mistakes.

    Your knowlege of academic research is similarly dated and weak. The biologists and psychologists whose work you appear to cite do not publish their work in peer-reviewed journals, nor do they follow accepted scientific methods.

    You should try to get more up to date in your studies before trying to argue with people who know so much more than you.

  • prohomo

    DON, you’re full of erroneous shit.

  • don

    The gay problem looking it from the mental point of view, it is accepted as any other choice in our society. People became radical in religion and politics, as examples to explain the radical point. There is not much of the difference between a Christian and a Muslim, by looking of the history of them. At the beginning of these religions, it was mandatory for people to follow it or find dead. Now, people find spiritual peace base in their believes. Some of the followers become radical and start acting different that the average of them. To be clear, the radical adjective is just another choice available for people to choose.

    Science is trying hard to find the answer of the problem. I understand that some people do not like hear the word “problem”, in the next lines it should be cleared it.
    Science was trying to find the solution for homosexuality since long time ago. If science is interested in the finding, it is because the subject has answers. The methods used in the past might not be the best to try, but the important part is that some people believe and are trying to bring the answers base in science. If people in general and scientists are interested in find the answer to head homosexuals to original status, it is because there are solutions behind science. The most important material is that the homosexual turn himself voluntarily for the trial.

    The gay problem is not a problem from the gay community point of view. Once the person accepts his sexual orientation, automatically his mind will find the basis to support the change. Plus, he will find many volunteers around ready to offer their “help” and the brain washing begins helped by his inability to cope with what is ahead.

    The percentage of dead homosexuals is: 60% of them commit suicide and 40% are killed by homosexual-haters. This fact is a clear problem. People commit suicide when loosing their money in the stock-market, that is a problem. In general, loosing a life is a problem.

    I do not see the homosexual case as a problem, but as an inconsistency in the society. People have the choice to be Christian, Muslin, Mormon, gay, or lesbian, just to name some of them. The gay community is focused in accept and help the mental change in homosexuals, that is good. How about some help to find the answers and make some people happy?
    Is not just accepting their resignation and tell that is OK to be homosexual, but to offer the choices that lead them to a happy life.

  • don

    “If homosexual attraction were an untreatable, unchangeable condition, then treating internalized homophobia would be the only remedy; but given the evidence that homosexual attraction may be preventable, and that homosexuality can in many cases (though certainly not all) be successfully treated in adulthood–then given the risks associated with homosexual attraction, shouldn’t the public be fully informed of the options?”

  • prohomo

    DON, NARTH is pure religious bullshit propaganda under the guise of “science”- stop brainwashing yourself.

  • Don

    “Mrs Pilkington says her method of therapy – Sexual Orientation Change Efforts (SOCE) – is legitimate and effective. The therapy is practised by a handful of psychotherapists in Britain.”

    Lets say that you are right, for a moment.
    There are enough professional people charged with enough knowledge to start a legally, economically, and scientifically supported research.
    Those professionals need the support to continue what already others started. There are not enough evidences to fail the psychological treatment. It is true about the negative sides effects. You tell me what research comes all clean once is in practice.

    I think that a fundraising for this research is a good start. The fact that some people are trying to find help, it is a good indication to support their feelings.
    If the case of someone else like to stay as homosexual, there is no reason to push them to try it. It is a choice in their mind for some, for others, it is the way of living as anybody else.

    Why not giving the opportunity to someone to try it? Lets move the negativity to the side and make a positive step in helping someone.

  • prohomo

    @Don: Because it doesn’t work. Ever.

  • DJ

    Absurd! Gay teens are more susceptible to mental issues because of the unaccepting society around them. I have no problem with being gay, I just don’t like the fact that I have to hide it. If gays could live happily in an open environment, I’d assure you there would be no more gay suicides.

  • Don

    “The Homosexual Who WANTS to Change Can”

    Too good to be true?

    As you can see, there are some people still working with people that like see life from different point of view. Some like to follow democrats others like to follow republicans, and as a choice others like to be independent. Is just matter of CHOICE. I said before that is nothing wrong in choosing any side. If some fellows are committing suicide because homosexuality, then reversal is part of the solution. What is worse, most of homosexuals are killed by hands of other homosexuals.
    It is matter of choice. Some of homosexuals said that reversal does not work. Of course, if they do not want to change, obviously it will not work. As a choice, it is OK to live with it, but is not fair to encourage others to join the team, or what is worse, stop the efforts of good intentions of good researchers.

  • Jeffree

    @Don: Your research is out-dated. So is your theology. Try looking at studies done after 1975 to see that “reparative therapy” doesn’t work. Just because a guy stops having sex with men doesn’t mean he wants to have sex with women. He can have sex with women if he is fantasizing about men.

    Please focus on reducing adultery and divorce among straight couples. That’s your best chance of preserving the sanctity of marriage and creating stronger families. We gay men are not your enemy, we’re not breaking up your marriages. People like you are.

  • MattGMD

    These overzealous religionists are worried there won’t be any single gay men for them to hook-up with while their wives aren’t looking.

  • prohomo

    DON, your “research” is false: NARTH is run by a Catholic leader (hmmm, what a surprise) who believes in biased, anti-gay “psychology” of the past. Stop lying and believing your own lies. Homosexual orientation is impossible to change. There is absolute proof both in secular and christian circles that some gays/bi simply become celibate. No homosexual becomes heterosexual. That’s simply believing the lie that other deluded, religious people claim. When pressed, such people still admit to “struggling”. call it what it is: BULLSHIT. And offensive. Why doesn’t Jesus “cure” us if we need to be?! Answer: No cure, probably no god as we know it.

  • prohomo

    Oh, @Don: Oh, and don’t tell me that many didn’t want to change but failed. I’m living proof ex-gay therapy DOES NOT WORK. I tried both secular and christian therapy. Zero. Enough of this offensive nonsense.

  • Oprah

    Guys guys Perkins is speaking from experience. Can you all see this? He is basically telling us– hey–he changed his bisexual status to straight status. He is saying by sheer denial and deep will, you are able to admit to yourself you cant be gay. Look at me–i have a wife, a family–if i was steak, i can do it secretly. Lets tell our children- you can have both. You can get a wife and also do things ‘down low’. Dont kill yourself kids— i did not. LOL

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