Tenured California professor says study labeling 'homophobia' a disease is 'garbage'

by Kelly Ledbetter |

ROME (Christian Examiner) – An Italian research group of social psychologists recently published a paper in The Journal of Sexual Medicine claiming "homophobia" is a disease and homophobic attitudes are strong indicators of mental disorders.

"Garbage," says Robert Oscar Lopez, a professor at California State University-Northridge.

I think the field of social psychology, but more broadly, almost all of the academic disciplines have so thoroughly excluded anybody who is conservative or religious – and particularly religious conservatives – that they can't really see their own flaws.
- Robert Oscar Lopez

Lopez, reportedly a member of a church affiliated with the Southern Baptist Convention and frequent writer in conservative publications, explained the study was done mostly by homosexuals and their supporters in the social psychology field, an academic discipline notably lacking in social conservatives.

"It's almost impossible for the research teams to critique their own methodologies or to improve or to see their own biases," Lopez told OneNewsNow.

The paper, "Psychoticism, Immature Defense Mechanisms and a Fearful Attachment Style are Associated with a Higher Homophobic Attitude," details the psychometric evaluation of 551 university students on a "Homophobia Scale," used to identify symptoms of mental disease.

Lopez argues the study was fundamentally flawed by its biased worldview. "[T]his study is just part of that whole way of social psychology research that is just complete garbage at this point," he said, calling for conservatives to voice dissent in the liberal field.

"After discussing for centuries if homosexuality is to be considered a disease, for the first time we demonstrated that the real disease to be cured is homophobia, associated with potentially severe psychopathologies," lead researcher Emmanuele A. Jannini told Medical Daily.

"Homophobic behavior and a negative attitude toward homosexuals are prevalent among the population. Despite this, few researches [sic] have investigated the psychologic aspects associated with homophobia, as psychopathologic symptoms, the defensive system, and attachment styles," the study says.

The paper represents a "modest study with a lot of ambiguities," Gregory M. Herek, professor of psychology and an expert in prejudice and sexual orientation at the University of California, Davis, is quoted in The Daily Beast.

Herek points out the study's methodological flaws and unhelpful definition of "psychoticism" before concluding the same as Lopez.

Lopez is not afraid to be the dissenting voice in an academic culture opposed to critique. "I think the field of social psychology, but more broadly, almost all of the academic disciplines have so thoroughly excluded anybody who is conservative or religious – and particularly religious conservatives – that they can't really see their own flaws."

"There are no empirical data that suggests homophobia is some sort of mental illness, and that includes this study," Herek said.

Professor Lopez has been targeted by GLAAD, a transgender watchdog group, as well as his university, for his outspokenness in children's rights. He was raised by his mother and her same-sex partner but is against homosexual marriage.

He is currently under investigation by his university for student complaints about a conference on parenting and children's rights, which could cost him tenure, OneNewsNow reported. Lopez is working on a collection of essays about writers who were raised by gay parents and another about literature pedagogy.