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Gender and Sexuality News Roundup (01/30/20)

January 30, 2020

One mission of CBMW is to help Christians think through secular and ecclesial trends on gender and sexuality. Through this work, we pore over a lot of different news reports and articles as we attempt to wade through the ceaseless flow of information on the web. In our weekly Gender and Sexuality News Roundups, we aim to distill some of the more pertinent information for you.

The articles below are from a wide variety of sectors and publications, organized generally into three categories. They are presented in aggregate, not necessarily endorsed.

If you see an article that you think should be featured in future CBMW News Roundups, you can send it to [email protected] with the subject “News Roundup.”


Ecclesial Trends on Gender and Sexuality

Willow Creek Confirms Abuse Allegations Against Gilbert Bilezikian, Christianity Today (Emily McFarlan Miller)

“Willow Creek Community Church—still grappling with former senior pastor Bill Hybels’ history of alleged sexual harassment and abuse of power—now is dealing with allegations of misconduct against the man who mentored Hybels. A longtime church member shared in a public Facebook post Saturday that Gilbert Bilezikian—known widely as ‘Dr. B.’—kissed, fondled, and pressured her to have sex with him between 1984 and 1988. ‘We believe that Dr. B engaged in inappropriate behavior, and the harm he caused was inexcusable,’ Willow Creek’s acting lead pastor Steve Gillen wrote Monday in an email to church staff obtained by Religion News Service.”

Sex is for married heterosexual couples only, says Church of England, The Guardian (Harriet Sherwood)

“Bishops have issued pastoral guidance in response to the recent introduction to mixed-sex civil partnerships, which says: ‘For Christians, marriage – that is, the lifelong union between a man and a woman, contracted with the making of vows – remains the proper context for sexual activity. ‘The church ‘seeks to uphold that standard’ in its approach to civil partnerships, and ‘to affirm the value of committed, sexually abstinent friendships’ within such partnerships. It adds: ‘Sexual relationships outside heterosexual marriage are regarded as falling short of God’s purpose for human beings.’ The affirmation of traditional teaching at a time when the church is undergoing a major review of sexuality and marriage will delight conservatives.”

SBC president cautions churches about hosting disgraced leader Paige Patterson, Houston Chronicle (Robert Downen)

“President J.D. Greear’s remarks in response to Chronicle questions are the most forceful to be issued by SBC leadership regarding Patterson, who was ousted as the leader of a Fort Worth seminary in 2018 for his handling of multiple students’ abuse claims. Greear noted Patterson’s dismissal from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in his remarks. ‘Trustees terminated Paige Patterson for cause, publicly disclosing that his conduct was ‘antithetical to the core values of our faith,’ Greear told the Chronicle. ‘I advise any Southern Baptist church to consider this severe action before having Dr. Patterson preach or speak and to contact trustee officers if additional information is necessary.'”


Secular Trends on Gender and Sexuality

Arizona could ban transgender women, girls from sports teams aligning with their identity, NBC News (Associated Press)

“The Arizona legislation allows only biological women or girls to play on female teams, and requires a doctor’s note to prove a person is female if their birth sex is disputed. It allows lawsuits by students who believe they’ve missed opportunities because a transgender person is on a school team. The measure is intended to prevent female athletes from being forced to compete against biological males, Barto said in a statement. It would apply to K-12 schools, community colleges and state universities but only to female teams.”

Doctors Could Face Criminal Charges for Treating Transgender Teens, The New York Times (Julie Bosman and Mitch Smith)

“A ‘bathroom bill’ to regulate the restroom choice of transgender people has failed in South Dakota. So has a bill that would have required high school athletes to play on a sports team according to their sex at birth, not their gender identity….The proposed law, which is expected to go up for a vote in the state’s House of Representatives on Monday, would bar doctors from prescribing hormones or puberty-blocking medication or performing transgender surgeries on anyone under the age of 16. The bill has strong support from social conservatives in the Republican-controlled Legislature, who believe it would enforce a common-sense view: that transgender youths under 16 are too young to begin taking medication or hormones.”

Is Supressing Puberty the Right Course When a Child Questions Their Gender?, U.S. News & World Report (Dennis Thompson)

“Suppressing puberty in a child who’s questioning their gender identity might seem extreme, but the therapy is relatively safe and could significantly lower their risk of suicide, a new study reports. Adolescents who wanted and received puberty suppression were 60% less likely to have considered suicide within the past year and 30% less likely to consider suicide throughout life, according to findings published in the February issue of Pediatrics. ‘This study is the first to show that access to pubertal suppression for transgender youth is associated with lower odds of suicidality,’ said lead researcher Dr. Jack Turban, a resident psychiatrist at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston and McLean Hospital in Belmont, Mass.”

CEO of the Hallmark Channel’s Parent to Depart, The Wall Street Journal (Patience Haggin)

“Mr. Abbott in November had said the Hallmark Channel would be open to LGBTQ-friendly programming, prompting some viewers to call the network to criticize the idea. Then in early December, when the network began airing ads from wedding-planning firm Zola Inc. featuring a wedding of two brides, complaints flooded in. On Dec. 10, the company learned that One Million Moms, a division of the conservative American Family Association, published a petition urging Hallmark to ‘reconsider airing commercials with same-sex couples.’ Mr. Abbott and other network executives decided to pull the plug on the Zola ad on Dec. 12. A swift backlash ensued.”

Sexism and gender divide ingrained in UK theatre, study claims, The Guardian (Lanre Bakare)

“British theatre has an institutional problem with sexism and gender inequality, according to the authors of a study who say Arts Council England(ACE) is ignoring the issue and failing to help redress the balance. The research – conducted by the playwright Jennifer Tuckett and the Sphinx Theatre Company – paints a bleak picture of British theatre, with a bigger gender gap in certain areas compared with eight years ago, when the Guardian conducted an in-depth study of the issue. The research in 2012 – in collaboration with Elizabeth Freestone, then artistic director of Pentabus theatre – revealed that women were vastly underrepresented, with a persistent 2:1 male-to-female ratio in British theatre roles. Tuckett’s latest research has found that in some cases the situation has worsened.”

Finland’s total fertility rate drops to levels of late 1830s, shows preliminary data, Helsinki Times (Aleski Teivainen)

“The population of Finland increased by 9,654 to 5,527,573 during the course of last year, according to preliminary data released yesterday by Statistics Finland. The population growth was driven exclusively by immigration: the number of people who immigrated to the country exceed that of people who emigrated from the country by 17,903, whereas the number of births was exceeded by that of deaths by 7,962.”


Gender and Sexuality Miscellany

The Talented Victim Is Not the Point, The Atlantic (Conor Friedersdorf)

“Recently, Clarkesworld, a monthly science-fiction and fantasy magazine, published a short story by Isabel Fall titled ‘I Sexually Identify as an Attack Helicopter,’ an allusion to a viral meme from 2014 that sought to mock and parody claims about transgender identities. The story attempts to subvert that critique, reclaim the phrase, and explore trans identities….The controversy over ‘Attack Helicopter’ is another case study suggesting that rejecting ‘art’s for art’s sake’ in favor of “art for justice’s sake” doesn’t necessarily yield more justice.”

Has the ‘Global War Against Baby Girls’ Come to America?, Institute for Family Studies (Nicholas Eberstadt)

“As we begin the 2020s, this may be a good time to revisit the issue of unnatural [sex ratios at birth (SRBs)] and the question of whether America has become a battlefield in ‘the global war against baby girls.’ Such an inquiry is all the more timely thanks to revisions in U.S. official vital statistics protocols, which now offer more detailed natality data than were available for the aforementioned study. These new data are worrisome, if not alarming—for they demonstrate that large-scale female feticide has been taking place among certain U.S. sub-populations over the past decade. Yet we may also see some measure of reassurance in these numbers, for the problem of unnaturally elevated SRBs appears to be peculiar to particular immigrant groups and circumstances, with no indications that it carries over to second generation parents born in our country.”

How Dads Affect Their Daughters into Adulthood, Institute for Family Studies (Linda Nielsen)

“Conversations about the importance of fathers usually revolve around sons: how boys benefit from having a positive male role model, a consistent disciplinarian, and a high-energy roughhousing partner on their way to pursuing career and family success in adulthood. But as recent research shows, fathers also affect the lives of their young adult daughters in intriguing and occasionally surprising ways.”

Marrying Despite Marriage Penalties, Institute for Family Studies (Amber Lapp)

“Ashley and Ryan are one such engaged couple, living in southwestern Ohio. They are getting married this month, but they worry about losing Medicaid coverage and SNAP benefits, as well as rent increases in Ashley’s public housing. Ashley’s work delivering pizzas combined with Ryan’s job at a local recycling plant puts them in the income range that is particularly vulnerable to a marriage penalty.”

Protect Children from Irreversible Harm, The Kelsey Coalition

“Children who identify as transgender deserve compassionate support. Their discomfort with their sex is real. But the causes are complicated, poorly understood, and under-researched. These children deserve evidence-based care, not experimental medical interventions. Their parents deserve to know the truth: that puberty-blocking drugs, hormones, and surgeries are not supported by a single long-term study and are not the answer to their child’s emotional pain. In fact, these interventions are likely to cause serious and irreversible harm.”

The idea of paid family leave is finally gaining steam in Congress, Yahoo Finance (Jessica Smith)

“The idea of paid family leave is gaining steam on Capitol Hill among both Republicans and Democrats — though lawmakers don’t necessarily agree on how to turn that idea into a reality. The House Ways and Means Committee held a hearing on Tuesday examining proposals for paid family leave and medical leave. Republicans are considering several ideas, including allowing people to borrow from their future Social Security benefits, to pay for family leave. Democratic lawmakers are advocating for the Family Act — which would create a new national leave program, funded by payroll contributions.”

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