Johns Hopkins: Authors of Homosexuality Study ‘Don’t Speak on Behalf of Institution’

Johns Hopkins University distanced itself from the two scientists who wrote a study saying there’s no scientific evidence that people are born gay.
A LGBT rights activist takes part in a transgender pride parade which was banned by the governorship, in central Istanbul, Turkey.

Reuters/Osman Orsal

Johns Hopkins University distanced itself from the two scientists who wrote a study saying there’s no scientific evidence that people are born gay.

In an email sent to its community, the university clarified its stand regarding the said study, reinforcing its “unequivocal and profound commitment to the LGBTQ community.” The university likewise stated its support for academic freedom.

“In recent months, some have questioned our position, both inside and outside the institution, not because of any change in our practice or policy, but because of the varied individual opinions expressed publicly by members of the Johns Hopkins Medicine community. We have taken these concerns seriously. We want to reiterate our institutional support for LGBT individuals and update you on the work we are doing to further that commitment,” the statement said.

The statement further said that as a research institution, the university encourages academic freedom, which is “essential” in conducting scientific investigations. However, it emphasized that individuals connected with the university who enjoy this freedom are not necessarily representing the university's views.

“When individuals associated with Johns Hopkins exercise the right of expression, they do not speak on behalf of the institution,” the email said.

Johns Hopkins found itself at the center of a controversy when two of its scientists, Lawrence S. Mayer and Paul R. McHugh, released the results of a literature review on sexuality and gender last month.

The study, entitled “Sexuality and Gender: Findings from the Biological, Psychological and Social Sciences” and published by the peer-reviewed journal The New Atlantis, concluded that there is no scientific evidence that people are born homosexual.

“The understanding of sexual orientation as an innate, biologically fixed property of human beings—the idea that people are “born that way”—is not supported by scientific evidence,” the study authors wrote. They reviewed at least 200 papers on the subject.

The authors further said that, based on their review, members of the homosexual community suffered from higher rates of depression and suicide.

Their findings were immediately challenged by the LGBTQ community.

“While the New Atlantis article mostly describes legitimate research, the claims it makes based on that research are not backed by experts in the field,” Human Rights Campaign said in a statement.

The LGBTQ rights advocacy group also accused the two scientists of resorting to “dishonest spins of valid studies.” In addition, it threatened to change its Health Equity ranking for Johns Hopkins if it refuses to disavow the study.

Editors from The New Atlantis issued a statement against HRC's "bullying" and refuted several of its accusations against the study’s authors and results. The editors said HRC “repeatedly distorts” the report published by the journal. They also said HRC’s threat to Johns Hopkins was a “disturbing strategy.”

“The HRC’s claim that its efforts ‘pose no threat to academic freedom’ is nonsense; intimidation tactics of this sort undermine the atmosphere of free and open inquiry that universities are meant to foster,” the editors said.

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