Being gay is not a disease
My colleague and friend Regina Hechanova, the president of the Psychological Association of the Philippines (PAP), alerted me to an article on “Being Gay” that came out in another newspaper.
At first I was thankful that homosexuality was being discussed openly by a public personality I like and respect.
However, based on interviews with psychologist Camille Garcia, the article contained several misconceptions about homosexuality, untruths that had been debunked by science.
Homosexuality is not a disorder. It is not included in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (the most comprehensive arbiter of mental health, used by psychiatrists, psychologists and so on).
“Like other national organizations, such as the American Psychological Association, the British Psychological Society and the Hong Kong Psychological Society, among many others, the PAP recognizes that there is no inherent illness or pathology behind same-gender sexual orientations,” says the official statement.
Equal human beings
It continues: “The PAP enjoins Filipino psychologists to stand by their professional and ethical commitments to affirm the rights and well-being of all individuals… Anti-lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender prejudice and discrimination tend to be based on a rhetoric of moral condemnation and are fueled by ignorance or unfounded beliefs associating these gender expressions and sexual orientations with psychopathology or maladjustment.”
“Our best scientific knowledge has shown that sexual orientation is not a choice,” says developmental psychologist Liane Alampay. “Parents cannot control whom we are attracted to.
“What parents can control is whether and how they will show their unconditional regard and acceptance of their child,” Alampay continues. “Whether the child is gay or straight, the ingredients of good parenting are the same. Parents who are warm and affectionate, sensitive to their children’s needs and respond to these appropriately have children who are well-adjusted and confident, have positive social relationships, are competent in school and are at low risk for behavioral and emotional problems. For gay children, who will undoubtedly experience confusion, isolation, even rejection from others at some point in their lives, the positive regard of their parents is all the more important and can even protect them.”
Alampay says it is natural for parents to feel disappointment, hurt or shock when a child is gay. She urges these parents to examine their own prejudices and, together with their child, learn how to deal with the reality of having a gay family member.
“As yet, we do not have clear answers as to why some people are gay or, for that matter, why some people are straight,” Alampay says. “But what matters is we do our best to treat each other, especially our children, with the dignity, respect and care we all deserve as equal human beings.”
“The most curious question I got was, ‘You are straight—why are you pro-gay?’” Hechanova says. “I’ve never thought of myself as pro-gay. What I am is pro-person. The world is difficult enough—we live with poverty in our midst, our environment is slowly being destroyed, we hear about corruption, violence and crime… almost daily. Why should we make it harder for people just because they have a different skin color, god or gender preference?
“True, psychology teaches us that prejudice and discrimination are human tendencies,” Hechanova continues. “We are affirmed by being with people like us. We shape our identity by differentiating ourselves from others. Research tells us that members of minorities are easy targets for discrimination simply because they are different from most.
“Then again, the beauty of being human is the capacity to change and evolve,” she concludes. “If the prejudice is coming from ignorance, we can inform. Bias-based stereotypes can be changed by contact. Fear can be diminished through interaction and dialogue. But perhaps the [most] difficult aspect of prejudice is one’s heart. The challenge is to make people really look beyond differences and see that we are the same where it counts—we are all human beings who simply want to love and be loved.”
For more information about homosexuality and other psychological issues, visit the PAP website www.pap.org.ph. The PAP also “encourages media practitioners who wish to get professional psychological advice to see the list of certified psychologists in the PAP website.”
Ateneo de Manila’s Ricardo Leong Center for Chinese Studies invites junior and senior high school students, college students and elementary and high school teachers to experience Chinese culture for two weeks.
Participants will be exposed to Chinese sports medicine, Chinese movies and traditional dance. They will also go on a field trip. The center will subsidize tuition fees for the 30 who will be accepted. Participants will only pay P1,800 for snacks and materials.
Classes run from April 22 to May 6, Monday-Friday, 2-5 p.m., at Leong Hall Room 206. Deadline for enrollment is on April 20. Call Manilyn Camus at 4266001 local 5280 or 84 or e-mail [email protected]
Jesuit Communications Foundation, Inc. invites children aged 10-14 to its Basic Adobe Flash Animation Workshop. Kids can learn to create their own animated characters. Under instructor Mikey Melendres, classes run for three afternoons, April 15, 17 and 19, 1-5 p.m.
E-mail the author at [email protected]