In 2011, the Special Investigations Task Force of the Penn State University Board of Trustees asked former FBI director Louis Freeh and his law firm to investigate of Penn State's response to former assistant coach Jerry Sandusky's child abuse. On July 12th, Louis Freeh introduced their findings at a press conference, during which Freeh lamented the "total disregard for the safety and welfare of Sandusky's child victims" by leaders at Penn State University, according to Pennlive. The Freeh report alleges that President Spanier, coach Joe Paterno, and other Penn State leaders hid facts related to Jerry Sandusky's child sexual abuse from the public, the authorities, and the Penn State Board of Trustees.
These claims should make all of us angry. Not only did Jerry Sandusky sexually abuse multiple boys, but powerful men in his institution concealed his wrongdoing and failed to hold him accountable. The Freeh report is an opportunity to talk about the role of institutions in child sexual abuse and demand greater accountability from leaders. At times like this, some Religious Right voices prefer to take swipes at gays, unfortunately.
Republic of Gilead has discussed how Religious Right figures have used the Sandusky scandal as an excuse to promote homophobia (see here and here). This pattern of homophobia continues. In a One News Now article on the Freeh report, Dianne Gramley of the American Family Association of Pennsylvania stated "Through all this we cannot ignore the fact that Jerry Sandusky's victims were all young boys. We can't ignore the homosexual aspect of this." She insisted that during Spanier's time as president, "he has brought more and more homosexual-oriented programming and events to the campus than ever before."
The article also quotes Matt Barber, vice president of Liberty Counsel Action. Barber rightly criticized Penn State leaders for ignoring abuse in the name of protecting the football program. Unfortunately, he also promoted homophobia when he told One News Now "Anytime homosexuality is involved -- even though in this case it's a homosexual predator preying on children -- people seem to have this innate fear that they are going to be crushed by the sexual anarchist lobby if they speak out against it."
How many times do we need to say it? Homosexuality and child abuse are two different things. There is a HUGE difference between sex between consenting adults, and the intrinsically destructive abuse of children. This was a child sexual abuse scandal, not a homosexuality scandal. Until the Religious Right grasps this simple concept, they will continue to demonize LGBTQ people, ignore the real roots of sexual abuse, and exploit the suffering of sexual abuse victims.
Would you excuse me? I need to scream now.
To read additional commentary, visit the following links.
Holy Bullies and Headless Monsters: Religious right exploiting Sandusky's crime to hurt gay community
Truth Wins Out: Beyond the Pale: Bigot Leaders Blaming Gays For Jerry Sandusky’s Crimes