“All Of Us” is an education pack about homosexuality and transexuality for teachers of Australian children in Years 7 and 8. Launched last month, it is supposed to help students be aware of bullying and discrimination and to affirm the identities of their LGBT classmates.
It is a comprehensive resource, with videos, posters, student hand-outs, and a unit guide for teachers – all painting a positive, if not glowing, view of the LGBT minority.
However, the statistics on the size of that minority – the crucial figures which justify the very existence of the program, are wrong.
First of all, what proportion of the population is same-sex attracted?
On page 8 of the booklet for teachers, it states very clearly that “10% of people are same-sex attracted”. This is supported by Footnote 9, which refers the reader to a monograph, the 5th national survey of Australian secondary students and sexual health, published by the Australian Research Centre in Sex Health and Society at La Trobe University.
However, nowhere does the 10% statistic appear in the reference. So what is its source? On page 23, the La Trobe University survey states that “a proportion (6% overall: 8% boys, 4% girls) reported being attracted exclusively to people of the same sex”. In addition, 4% (4% boys and 5% girls), were unsure about their sexual attraction. It appears that the 10% figure may have been reached by adding those who were exclusively attracted to those who were unsure.
Similarly, on page 8 of the booklet for teachers, it is stated emphatically that “around 4% are gender diverse or transgender”. This is supported by Footnote 4, which refers the reader to a publication called The health and wellbeing of New Zealand secondary school students in 2012. This statistic does not appear in this publication. In fact, on page 25, the reference states that “About 1% of students reported that they were transgender” and “approximately 3% were not sure”. Once again, the target statistic appears to have been reached by adding the percentage of those with a clear idea about their sexuality to those who were questioning.
If this is correct, what does it imply about the aim of the “All Of Us” program? That all children who are puzzled about their sexual identity will choose to live as homosexuals or transgender? That the alluring images of the LGBT lifestyle in “All Of Us” will be a kind of reverse conversion therapy?
The Safe Schools Coalition needs to explain how it got its figures so wrong.
One explanation may be its highly unprofessional research methods. The “All Of Us” study guide says that the figures are based on “Australian and international research”. This is nonsense. The two footnotes are just reports based on rough-and-ready surveys, not peer-reviewed journals.
The authors of the Australian study done at La Trobe University even acknowledged that they had significant difficulty in recruiting enough students in Years 10, 11 and 12. “Obtaining the necessary sample of students has been more difficult to achieve with each iteration of this research project,” they wrote. To increase student participation, they resorted to an online survey through networks which had an interest in student sexuality and through Facebook. Online surveys are notoriously inaccurate.
Figures about the LGBT population are always going to be controversial. The Safe Schools Coalition could have used figures provided by the best-known LGBT think tank, the Williams Institute at UCLA Law School in California. It is “dedicated to conducting rigorous, independent research on sexual orientation and gender identity law and public policy”. Its fact sheet, “How many people are lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender?” is freely available. The author, Gary J. Gates, is a well-known American demographer specialising in LGBT issues whose work has been used in US Supreme Court cases.
Surprisingly, Gates’ figures are far, far lower than those cited in the “All Of Us” program: “An estimated 3.5% of adults in the United States identify as lesbian, gay, or bisexual and an estimated 0.3% of adults are transgender,” he writes.
If Gates is correct, the “All Of Us” figure for same-sex attracted people are about 180% too high and for transgender people about 1200% too high.
The teen years are a turbulent time for children. What they need to survive and thrive is the truth, not the propaganda in the “All Of Us” program.
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LATE ADDITION: In response to queries from MercatorNet, a Safe Schools Coalition spokesperson explained how the statistics had been calculated:
In relation to your query about 10% of people being same sex attracted. The research referenced for this figure showed 6% overall reported an exclusive attraction to people of the opposite sex. A proportion of respondents also reported attraction to both sexes. 10% may actually be a conservative guide based on this research and has been used in consultation with authors of the research.
In relation to your query about 4% of people being gender diverse or transgender. This figure includes both gender diverse and transgender people. This research referenced in this section found that about 96% of respondents reported that they were not transgender. The remainder reported that they were either transgender or not sure of their gender.
Michael Cook is editor of MercatorNet.