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Walmart Stocks Ex-Gay Parenting Book

Walmart Stocks Ex-Gay Parenting Book

It has emerged that around 104 Walmart stores in the Intermountain West will be stocking a book entitled Chased by an Elephant, the Gospel Truth about Today’s Stampeding Sexuality by Janice Barrett Graham, wife of Stephen Graham, President of the anti-gay organization Standard of Liberty. According to the author, the book is to help parents steer children away from homosexuality and other perceived sexual improprieties.

The book, sometimes titled Wild Elephant, is also available at Amazon.com and Barnes & Noble.com as well as tidalwavebooks.com. From the book’s description:

Overgrown jungles? Stampeding elephants? Tarzan and Jane? That’s what Christian families will find in this book to help shed the bright light of truth on today’s dark and tangled ideas about male and female, proper gender roles, the law of chastity, and the God-given sexual appetite. Even more important is this book’s emphasis on youth knowing their relationship to God and the basic principles of Christ’s gospel, the application of which will counteract misinformation, prevent sexual sin, and open up much-needed spiritual resources like nothing else.

The book contains a foreward from Janice’s son who claims he was lured into the “gay lifestyle” by older men at college but is now a reformed, heterosexual married man.

More From ABC 4:

Janice Graham is a writer who created a book she titled Wild Elephant, a book that’s geared towards young readers, but it is one that’s meant to be a guide for parents.

“I’m concerned about the rising generation, and young people are being fed a lot of distorted information about their growing sexuality, and I think we are failing as parents and as leaders to counteract those lies they are hearing.”

As a mother, Graham struggled with her son’s homosexuality.

“It was a very difficult time for our family.”

She began writing a book other parents could use to help shape their young children’s sexuality.  Chapters titled, “Me Tarzan, You Jane”, are written to be read by parents to their children ages 10 and older.  It’s an approach Dr. Douglas Goldsmith, a child’s psychologist, does not agree with.

“If a child grows up and makes the decision for an alternative lifestyle, they have kind of slammed the door, because the child knows how they feel.  It’s going to [be] tough for that child to communicate with them and have a harmonious relationship.”

As many readers will be aware, Walmart continues to be boycotted for several reasons including its treatment of female staff, and this will do little to improve the chain’s reputation.

Needless to say, it is incredibly concerning that the book might be taken as a legitimate source of information that one can “shape” a child’s sexual orientation.

The book has been widely decried throughout the blogosphere, so I feel there’s not much more to say on that, but as a point of interest I’d like to take a quick glance at who is recommending this book, as I feel it is quite revealing. 

On the tidalwavebooks site, the book is endorsed by a number of people with professional sounding titles. One is Dr. A. Dean Byrd, and he says:

“This book is a thought-provoking and alarming commentary on what is happening in our sex-saturated culture. It deserves careful attention and has the potential to make an elephant-sized difference.”

Dr. A. Dean Byrd is a former president of the National Association for Research and Therapy of Homosexuality (NARTH) an organization that peddles ex-gay therapy and the idea that homosexuality is a dangerous choice and that people can change if they should so choose.

The organization has been repudiated on several occasions for its misleading use of research papers to try and substantiate its claims. Byrd himself has also been slammed for being highly selective in how he quotes research materials so as to support his own anti-gay view point. More on that here.

Another endorsement from Michelle A. Cretella, MD, Chair of the Committee on Adolescent Sexuality, American College of Pediatricians, says: 

“Teen pregnancy, STIs, and emotional heartache due to extra-marital sexual activity do not strike those who embrace chastity. In a straightforward and light-hearted way, this book successfully guides parents in imparting this virtue to their children in the context of the Christian tradition.”

Cretella also appears to be affiliated with NARTH as demonstrated by her pressence on their website under their “officers” section.

And turning our attention to the American College of Pediatricians (ACP) there’s another NARTH connection. Not to be confused with the American Academy of Pediatricians, the group has yet again been taken to task for its misinformation.

It’s core tenets hinge on adherence to Judeo-Christian standpoints on matters of sexuality and the so-called traditional family unit,  and even though it pretends to be a neutral resource, it is anything but.

For instance, on the ACP’s “Facts About Youth” homosexuality page,  the very first two references on the possibility of so-called “re-orientation” come from NARTH. Not only that, but it references the following:

However, in 2001 psychiatrist Dr. Robert Spitzer, who in 1973 originally led the team to normalize homosexuality in the diagnostic manual, conceded that “reorientation therapy” (a patient/client’s efforts to diminish unwanted homosexual attractions and behaviors and/or develop one’s heterosexual potential through professional and/or religiously-mediated change efforts) can be effective.

You can read more about the dubious referencing the site uses here.

NARTH and other conservative groups have got a lot of mileage out of that research but they have also been condemned for misrepresenting Spitzer’s findings, chiefly by Spitzer himself.

While Spitzer’s limited study did indeed conclude that creating a change in a person’s sexual orientation may be possible, the study had severe limitations. Spitzer has gone on record to clarify that, at best, the study showed that success of such therapy would be extremely rare if it is possible, and could be extremely damaging if it failed.

A couple of statements from Dr. Spitzer via Truth Wins Out:

“In advance of NARTH’ press conference in New Orleans, I want to express hope that my research will not be exaggerated or used as a wedge to deny gay people equal rights. My research shows that some homosexuals can change their orientation but I believe that such change is rare. In many cases, attempts to change sexual orientation can be harmful. In the spirit of research and solid science I hope that all sides in this debate stick to the facts.” (In August 2006, NARTH was preparing to picket the American Psychological Association’ annual meeting in New Orleans. Dr. Spitzer, aware that the group had misused his work in the past to support its political agenda, sent NARTH a letter August 10, 2006.)

“I did anticipate, and in my presentation warn, that it would be a mistake to interpret the study as implying that any highly motivated homosexual could change if they were really motivated to do so. I suspect that the vast majority of gay people — even if they wanted to — would be unable to make substantial changes in sexual attraction and fantasy and enjoyment of heterosexual functioning that many of my subjects reported.” (Anything But Straight; Wayne Besen; Haworth Press, 2003; pg. 240.)

You can also watch a video of Doctor Spitzer talking about how his research has been misrepresented by anti-gay groups by heading over to Truth Wins Out.

There are several other endorsements of Chased by an Elephant floating around, mostly all from certain members of the LDS community or other social conservative groups. I’ve chosen to tackle just a couple above, but praise for Graham’s book is coming from a very particular and tightly woven network of religious conservatives all of whom have a vested interest in its promotion and dissemination as a way of spreading their ex-gay message.

If Janice Graham’s son says he has changed his sexuality and is now living a happy life as a heterosexual, I am prepared to accept that at face value.

But for decades now the wider medical community has held that homosexuality is not an illness and in 1997, the American Psychological Association passed a resolution condemning the widely discredited practice of conversion therapy. They echoed that sentiment in a more recent resolution that affirms that no solid or even partially substantiated evidence exists that supports conversion therapy as a viable means of treatment for depression related to homosexuality. Indeed, other groups across the globe have followed this stance, with the British Medical Association this year moving to condemn reparative therapy as a discredited and harmful practice. Read more on that here.

Therefore, Graham using her son’s conversion as the basis of a book promoting  to parents ex-gay therapy – in whatever form – and sampling endorsements from discredited affiliated organizations to support that without the caveat of how the wider medical community has concluded that conversion is both extremely unlikely (if possible at all) and also potentially very dangerous, is a disingenuous way to further an agenda, and one that should not go by without appropriate challenge.

As such, I am pleased to say the book is being challenged. On the book’s Amazon.com page, reviewers have already started offering their opinion, many of which term the book dangerous and decry it as deceitful, and I’ve no doubt that others will follow and voice their opinions on other websites stocking the book, such as Barnes & Nobel.com.

To be clear, I do not advocate censorship, but for Walmart and other stockists to carry the book, even in just a handful of stores, without a health warning of some kind seems deeply irresponsible.

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Photo used under the Creative Commons Attribution License, with thanks to Monochrome.

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76 comments

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11:00AM PDT on Sep 30, 2011

A lot of people, much like with the bible, have missed the damn point.

This book is filth. Pure unadulterated claptrap, arsenic in baby food, something to get your son if he won't stop playing with his sister's bedazzler. The author wasn't looking for a ban I believe, but a DISCLAIMER. That's fair. If I accidentally started reading my child an anti-gay propaghanda book, (cuz honestly I didn't expect to find that outside a christian bookstore), I'd be pissed. Especially if little Bobby wouldn't stop asking me about Tarzan and his non-sexual purely platonic life-mate Jane. We'd have to watch the Jungle Book to shut him up, despite it's insiduous insinuation of man-bear love.

To Tom Y, your arguments in favor of gay rehabilitation are flat out wrong. Neuroplasticity refers to the capacity of the brain to reshape and regrow in response to the environment and also following trauma, whether from impact, toxicity, stroke or other factors. Your argument would be sound if sexuality were purely cerebral but it's not. Sexuality is much more imbedded in hormonal reactions than cerebral processing. Hormone response is much less susceptible to concerted manipulation, and therefore not as well within the realm of plasticity as you suggest.

Anti-gay therapy is unnecessary and dangerous.
1 Corinthians 6:12“I have the right to do anything,” you say—but not everything is beneficial.

Denigrating a lifestyle based on 2 verses in the bible, at the exclusion of

2:52PM PST on Feb 8, 2011

Dawn W.: Read April Schneider's comment and follow her advice.
You have no idea what it means to be gay. You probably believe every word in your posting but it's full of faulty conclusions on what constitute a gay relationship.

And finally, what you obviously don't get is that by being gay, and born gay, is a statement in itself that includes a step away from traditional gender perceptions. I can be who I want and how I want. I don't have to stereotype myself into a feminine or masculine gender role because I'm a female or a male. I can do whatever I like because I have already stepped out from the normality of society by being gay. Get this, Dawn, no one has to attach themselves into the opposite gender roles while being in a gay relationship. There's no need to copy the heterosexuals and their stereotypical gender prison. I am who I am, born gay and proud to be!

3:15PM PDT on Oct 20, 2010

This is one of those curses in living in a democracy. Who says you have to buy the danm thing?

11:54PM PDT on Oct 19, 2010

What if this was a book trying to steer kids away from Christianity? You wouldnt be saying anything?

11:52PM PDT on Oct 19, 2010

Why are kids studying sexuality at young ages? There are other things that need ot be banned. It is the parents to raise a child as they see fit. If you dont like the book dont buy it. No one has a right telling anyone else what they can buy in America.

11:22AM PDT on Oct 17, 2010

For every issue contronted by society, there will be people sharing their beliefs on their side. In the US, we are lucky to have the right to freedom of speech. Sometimes we don't like to hear what the "other side" shares but it is their right. If we don't like it, don't buy it. Walmart and the other stores have the right to sell the book. If it doesn't sell, then it won't stay on the shelves. Boycotting an item or a store is our way have voting on either side of these types of debates. In a way, by the media focusing on this book, people from both sides of the issue will buy it to either agree with it or to pick it apart in a negative way. In a way, by focusing attention on it, it has a bigger likihood of actually succeeding. Sometimes people on one side of an issue spend so much time pointing fingers at the other side that they actually hurt themselves (I am not picking side...I have seen it on both sides of this issue). I believe in letting people believe and life their life as they choose. The greatest gift in life is that ability to choose as long as we don't break the laws of our land. I don't believe in pointing fingers at others who believe differently than I do...they have the right. There are three truths in any debate, one side or the other side or the real truth. I enjoy listening ande learning from those around me to get closer to the real truth. Attacking others for their beliefs only shuts down compassion, empathy and learning.

1:37PM PDT on Oct 14, 2010

Freedom of speech means that Walmart has the right to sell such a book, even if it's highly unscientific and illogical. But, if Walmart wants to be considered non-prejudiced and display any kind of integrity and fairness, they should sell and display equally prominently LGBT books.

10:46AM PDT on Oct 14, 2010

This IS an "incredibly concerning" development -- to anyone trying to force us into a false orthodoxy. Something we could call a Gay Myth: "born that way, can't change, give us whatever we demand." The fact is, the presence/depth of connection to a same-sex parent hugely determines the sexual attraction in some individuals. For them, the unmet need for homo-emotional connection becomes sexualized in adolescence, when sex drive and emotional romanticism both heighten. It's still primarily an emotional need, and needs to be met emotionally rather than sexually.

More damaging for false orthodoxy is the heightening profile of neuroplasticity, the understanding that the brain can be reshaped by relearning/retraining. Neuroplasticity makes ex-gay therapy feasible. Despite the politics of activist-driven condemnation from institutions, the therapy is still ongoing, and there are people seeking it.

9:56AM PDT on Oct 14, 2010

Get educated and don't read/buy crap. The answer is not censorship. That is a slippery slope we don't ever want to go down!

9:46AM PDT on Oct 14, 2010

I'm not against homosexuals but a more 'pragmatic' approach is needed in this heated debate.

There are 'three' kinds of homosexuals - the ones who want a sexual thrill and 'will do it with anyone', the ones who are confused (sometimes just want a sexual thrill), and the ones seeking a 'committed' relationship.

Some studies (that were later muzzled) suggested the reason why many people chose homosexuality is rooted in 'a failure to thrive emotionally'. We humans are complex. Homosexuals have trouble 'trusting' the 'opposite' sex but on a 'subconcious' level, seek a relationship with them.

It's obvious that in many people, homosexuality satisfies deep emotional and physical 'needs'. In the longer more committed relationships, it's more emotional.

The idea behind 'homosexuality' is that a person is attracted to the 'same' sex. However, it's evident that one partner is the 'male' persona, the other the 'female'. This holds true in both male/male and female/female relationships.

A good example is Ellen DeGeneres and her partner - it's clear that Ellen is the 'male' in the relationship.

Therefore, homosexuals are not really attracted to the 'same' sex - but the 'opposite' sex. A female finds her 'male' in another 'female' body, a male homosexual finds his female in a another male.

Homosexuality for many people is a psychological safety net where their needs are being met in a 'safe (for them)' way.

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