Debunking Childhood Sexual Abuse Myths & LGBTQ+ Community
By: Maria Barcelos, MA, Executive Director & Registered Psychotherapist (Qualifying)
There are many myths surrounding childhood sexual abuse, including myths involving gender expression, sexual orientation, and potential offending behaviours. It is important to note that myths about CSA trauma further perpetuate survivors’ silence, shame, and guilt. Myths have the power to silence and further re-victimize survivors of childhood sexual abuse. It is imperative that as a healing community, we debunk myths by educating the public on the facts and truth regarding CSA survivors from many different communities, cultures, and faiths, including the LGBTQ+ community.
The myths contained in this article are not an exhaustive list of myths pertaining to the LGBTQ+ community. As an LGBTQ+ ally, it is important to educate yourself on the various experiences of LGBTQ+ survivors. A more comprehensive list is included in both sources for this article.
MYTH # 1: Gay men molest children at far higher rates than heterosexuals.
FACT: According to the American Psychological Association, children are not more likely to be molested by LGBT parents or their LGBT friends or acquaintances. Gregory Herek, a professor at the University of California, Davis, who is one of the nation’s leading researchers on prejudice against sexual minorities, reviewed a series of studies and found no evidence that gay men molest children at higher rates than heterosexual men (Southern Poverty Law Center, 2021).
MYTH # 2: Same-sex parents harm children.
FACT: No legitimate research has demonstrated that same-sex couples are any more or any less harmful to children than heterosexual couples.
MYTH# 3: Being raised by gay parents will cause kids to be gay.
- People do not choose who they are attracted to. Likewise, no one else can dictate our attractions—not even our parents. We certainly learn things about sexuality and relationships from observing our parents and other couples in society, but our own sexuality isn’t something we learned or have much if any, control over.
- Not much is known about why people are gay or not, but children’s sexual orientation is not determined by the sexuality of their parents. In fact, most gay people were raised by straight parents, and many children of gay parents grow up to be straight (Adoptions From The Heart, 2019).
MYTH # 4: People become homosexual because they were sexually abused as children or there was a deficiency in sex-role modeling by their parents.
FACT: No scientifically sound study has definitively linked sexual orientation or identity with parental role-modeling or childhood sexual abuse (Southern Poverty Law Center, 2021). The American Psychiatric Association noted in a 2000 fact sheet available on the Association of Gay and Lesbian Psychiatrists, that dealing with gay, lesbian, and bisexual issues, that sexual abuse does not appear to be any more prevalent among children who grow up and identify as gay, lesbian, or bisexual than in children who grow up and identify as heterosexual (Southern Poverty Law Center, 2021).
Adoptions From The Heart. (2019). Debunking myths about LGBTQ parents. Retrieved from https://afth.org/debunking-myths-about-lgbtq-parents/
The Southern Poverty Law Center. (2021). 10 Anti-Gay myths debunked. Retrieved from https://www.splcenter.org/fighting-hate/intelligence-report/2011/10-anti-gay-myths-debunked