Thursday, July 17, 2014
Less than 3 per cent of US population identifies as gay, lesbian or bisexual, survey finds
Less than 3 per cent of the US population identify themselves as gay, lesbian or bisexual, the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention reported in the first large-scale government survey measuring Americans’ sexual orientation.
The National Health Interview Survey, which is the government’s premier tool for annually assessing Americans’ health and behaviours, found that 1.6 per cent of adults self-identify as gay or lesbian, and 0.7 per cent consider themselves bisexual.
The overwhelming majority of adults, 96.6 per cent, labelled themselves as straight in the 2013 survey. An additional 1.1 per cent declined to answer, responded “I don’t know the answer” or said they were “something else”.
The figures offered a slightly smaller assessment of the size of the gay, lesbian and bisexual population than other surveys, which have pegged the overall proportion at closer to 3.5 or 4 per cent. In particular, the estimate for bisexuals was lower than in some other surveys.
The inclusion of the sexual-orientation question in an influential survey used to guide government funding and research decisions was viewed as a major victory for the gay community, which has struggled with a dearth of data about its special health needs.
“This is a major step forward in trying to remedy some of these gaps in our understanding of the role sexual orientation and gender identity play in people’s health and in their lives,” said Gary Gates, a demographer at the Williams Institute, a research centre at the University of California at Los Angeles that studies the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) population.
Begun in 1957, the US health interview survey comprises a wide range of questions, on topics including medical care, vaccinations and tobacco use. The data is collected for the CDC by the Census Bureau, which conducts interviews with thousands of Americans across the country. It is highly regarded because of its large sample size — it comprised 33,557 adults between the ages of 18 and 64 for the most recent survey — and because of its methods, which include face-to-face interviews and some follow-up telephone queries.
A few other federal surveys ask about sexual orientation but are not large enough to provide data that can be generalised to the country as a whole, government health officials have said.
The information released by the CDC offers an initial analysis through the lens of sexual orientation on measures critical to public health, such as smoking, drinking and health insurance status.
It did not find a broad pattern suggesting that one group was less healthy overall than any other group, said Brian Ward, the researcher for the report. Echoing other studies, it found that, compared with straight people, gays were more likely to smoke and to have consumed five or more drinks in one day at least once in the past year. Straight women were more likely to consider themselves in excellent or very good health than women who identified as lesbian.
But gays were more likely to have received a flu shot than straight people, and gay men were less likely to be overweight than straight men.
In some cases, the more notable disparities were experienced by bisexuals. People who identify as being attracted to both sexes are more likely to have experienced psychological distress in the past 30 days than straight people, the survey showed.
“We just don’t know much about bisexuality right now, and we’re finally starting to do some research in that area,” said Judy Bradford, director of the Centre for Population Research in LGBT Health at the Fenway Institute in Boston. The study may prompt more scrutiny of this understudied population, she said.
In their report, CDC researchers acknowledge that their estimate of the size of the bisexual population differs from those in other studies. A national estimate from the 2008 General Social Survey — which is funded by the National Science Foundation, a federal agency dedicated to the advancement of nonmedical science — estimated that 1.1 per cent of the population identified as bisexual. Other surveys suggest the number of bisexuals roughly matches the number of gays.
“There’s a variety of factors that could come into play, and we don’t have an answer right now,” Ward said. “It’s something we are looking at.”
The survey did not ask about gender identity, which is a more complicated topic than sexual orientation. Previously, officials had discussed including the question in future surveys. But Ward said Monday that there were no immediate plans to add such a question.
The difficulty stems partially from the large sample size needed, experts said. One challenge is that there are more than 200 terms used by people who identify as a different sex than the biological one they were born as, Bradford said.
Some people who have completed gender reassignment surgery may no longer consider themselves transgender but rather a member of their new sex, she said. Others may be offended by terms such as “transsexual,” which was once routinely used but in some circles is now considered pejorative.
The broader 2013 National Health Interview Survey data set was released publicly on June 30. It contains more information for researchers interested in studying other measures of health by sexual orientation, such as cancer rates or disabilities.
BBC plan to promote ethnic minorities is racist, says MP
The BBC’s plan to promote ethnic minority staff is racist, a Tory MP has claimed as he challenged executives to give their own jobs to black candidates if they are so passionate about diversity.
Philip Davies said the BBC’s “politically correct targets” discriminated against the white working class, who are also under-represented at the corporation but are not the subject of diversity quotas.
He confronted Lord Hall, the director-general, and a panel of other BBC executives – all of whom are white – appearing before the House of Commons culture select committee.
After Lord Hall said the BBC must employ “as many people as possible from as many different backgrounds as possible”, Mr Davies rounded on the panel.
“I’m looking at you four – which of you four are prepared to fall on your swords and let a black person have that job?” he asked.
“Show a bit of leadership and vacate your own jobs if you’re so passionate about it. Or does it just apply to everyone else’s jobs apart from yours?”
Lord Hall and his colleagues – director of strategy James Purnell, BBC television controller Danny Cohen and non-executive director Dame Fiona Reynolds – declined to take up the offer.
Mr Davies, MP for Shipley in West Yorkshire, joked that today was “a good day to talk about diversity” – a reference to the Cabinet reshuffle in which a succession of middle-aged white men were shown the door.
Under new quotas announced last month, one in seven BBC presenters and actors will be black or minority ethnic by 2017, along with one in 10 managers.
Mr Davies said: “You are going down what I personally consider to be a racist approach.
“To me, the true racists are people who see everything in terms of race when what we should surely be is colour blind. Just as it is racist to prevent someone from having a job when they are black, it is equally racist to give someone a job just because they are black.
“It is a racist policy to get a certain amount of people from an ethnic minority into jobs.
“If I have a white, working class constituent who wants that opportunity … why should they be deprived because you’ve set these politically correct targets?”
Lord Hall responded: “Look at the data and see what’s happening at the BBC, and there is a kind of ceiling – BAME [black, Asian and ethnic minority] people tend to get to a certain point and don’t rise.
“The theme here is not racism, it is equality of opportunity.”
Young Boy Takes On City Council…and Wins
Call it a victory for common sense. City officials in Leawood, Kan., have reversed course after ordering a 9-year-old boy to tear down the little free library he built in his front yard for Mother’s Day.
Late last Monday night, after Spencer Collins had appeared before the Leawood City Council to advocate for permission to share his love of reading books with his neighbors, the Council unanimously approved a temporary measure that would allow the free little library to stand in his yard.
The Council has proposed a more permanent solution to allow little free libraries in Leawood. It will be taken up in October after a public-comment period.
As we reported earlier, this issue began when the city’s codes enforcement office sent a letter to Spencer and his family warning they would face an official citation if the little library was not removed from their front yard.
The story attracted national attention, and more than 31,000 people expressed support for Spencer on his Facebook page. With media pressure mounting, the city council was forced to address the publicity nightmare it created.
Spencer addressed the city council to explain his position. “I think free little libraries are good for Leawood, and I hope you will change the code,” he said.
Fellow residents joined in. “Reading is a solitary endeavor, but this makes it about the community. It is about neighbors reaching out to neighbors,” said Wyatt Townley, a city resident.
Ultimately, the Council agreed with Spencer and unanimously approved a moratorium that exempts little libraries.
Not everyone was happy, though. “Why do we pay taxes for libraries and have those boxes on the street?” asked one attendee. Another member claimed the little libraries were eyesores and argued, “You will destroy Leawood if you destroy our codes and bylaws.”
Fortunately, cooler heads prevailed, and the city is on course to amend the ordinance to permanently allow small libraries in the front yards of Leawood residents. The moratorium approved last Monday is only a temporary solution, but it is a step in the right direction.
Ray Bradbury famously stated, “There are worse crimes than burning books. One of them is not reading them.” For those interested in encouraging literacy and spreading the joy of reading, this was a victory.
Australia: Black irresponsibility again
Par for the course when Aborigines are given money
Directors of a defunct Western Australian indigenous corporation have not been charged with any offences despite an investigation uncovering 40 suspect transactions involving hundreds of thousands of dollars and 64 missing cars.
A Fairfax Media investigation has found the Office of the Registrar of Indigenous Corporations amassed evidence suggesting criminal and civil offences during a two-year probe into former directors and executives of the organisation.
But it chose not to refer material to the Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions for review after it deemed the evidence might not be sufficient to secure convictions.
Several of those directors who were under investigation now lead the board of the Western Australia's Western Desert Lands Aboriginal Corporation and control the proceeds of its multimillion-dollar mining deals, which include a contentious agreement brokered by a company part-owned by Prime Minister Tony Abbott's top indigenous adviser, Warren Mundine.
Fairfax Media revealed on Saturday how a company part-owned by Mr Mundine was used by listed miner Reward Minerals to change the Western Desert corporation's stance on not allowing mining on a Pilbara sacred site called Lake Disappointment.
A senior Western Desert corporation executive held a secret stake in the negotiating company part-owned by Mr Mundine and lawyers for the corporation described the Reward deal as having "no validy" and mired by potential conflicts of interest.
Federal opposition indigenous affairs spokesman Shane Neumann said Mr Mundine had questions to answer about his business relationships and corporate activities. "There are issues of good governance here to be explored. Mr Mundine is a very public figure and has enormous access to government," Mr Neumann said.
Greens indigenous affairs spokeswoman Rachel Siewert said the revelations were "extremely concerning". "If this is as bad as it looks, it's an example of how Aboriginal organisations are being manipulated and profits ripped off when it's fundamental for their economic development."
Fairfax Media as obtained an email written in 2011 by a senior ORIC investigator showing 40 suspect transactions involving hundreds of thousands of dollars withdrawn by former directors and executives of the defunct Western Desert Puntukurnuparna Aboriginal Corporation had been identified.
The investigator wrote that the transactions would "likely be included in a brief of evidence … so that criminal/civil prosecutions can be considered and commenced accordingly". A separate investigation could only find five of the 69 cars registered to the organisation.
But ORIC eventually decided not to press for charges and instead the organisation was liquidated last year by the tax office. The decision staggered the organisation's former chief executive, Bruce Hill, who asked ORIC to investigate in 2010.
"Bottom line is innocent members have been asset stripped and the guilty not held to account," Mr Hill said.
Those probed by ORIC include the chairman of the Western Desert land corporation’s board, Brian Samson, deputy chair Teddy Biljabu and director Bruce Booth.
Evidence obtained by ORIC during its probe included cheque butts and bank statements showing directors and executives at the defunct body withdrew huge sums without approval and purchased cars without approval.
In his February report, Pitcher Partners liquidator Bryan Hughes stated that the defunct organisation's records were either missing or incomplete. Its former directors have refused to send Mr Hughes their records.
"I consider that poor financial control and poor strategic management were also likely factors, which contributed to the corporation's failure," he wrote.
Mr Hughes also identified a $409,640 transaction "which I consider may constitute a transaction voidable by a liquidator". It is possible the transaction involved "unreasonable director related transactions".
Directors of the defunct organisation used their influence at the Western Desert corporation to convince the Martu people to transfer $730,000 to help fund a bail out.
In a statement, ORIC said its investigation into the defunct organisation was the most extensive it had conducted. But a review of the evidence deemed it insufficient to refer to Commonwealth prosecutors.
"The decision was not a judgment that certain events had not occurred," ORIC's statement said.
Mr Mundine, who has declined to answer questions from Fairfax Media, recently criticised ORIC for its "kid glove" approach to regulating indigenous corporations, saying people had gotten away with "blue murder".
Political correctness is most pervasive in universities and colleges but I rarely report the incidents concerned here as I have a separate blog for educational matters.
American "liberals" often deny being Leftists and say that they are very different from the Communist rulers of other countries. The only real difference, however, is how much power they have. In America, their power is limited by democracy. To see what they WOULD be like with more power, look at where they ARE already very powerful: in America's educational system -- particularly in the universities and colleges. They show there the same respect for free-speech and political diversity that Stalin did: None. So look to the colleges to see what the whole country would be like if "liberals" had their way. It would be a dictatorship.
For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS and DISSECTING LEFTISM. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here.