The American College of Pediatricians, a small, right-wing extremist group of physicians who for two decades has struggled to gain traction finds itself for the first time with more power than it has ever had as the far-right takes greater hold on America.
But along with their new-found power comes a deep dive into at least 15 years worth of their internal documents, the result of the group reportedly publishing a link to its own unsecured Google drive in April, which WIRED uncovered and reported on back in May.
The Washington Post combed through 10,000 of the group’s documents, and on Thursday publishing its exposé on the American College of Pediatricians, which the Southern Poverty Law Center lists as an anti-LGBTQ hate group.
“The American College of Pediatricians (ACPeds) is a fringe anti-LGBTQ hate group that masquerades as the premier U.S. association of pediatricians to push anti-LGBTQ junk science, primarily via far-right conservative media and filing amicus briefs in cases related to gay adoption and marriage equality,” SPLC writes in its extensive report.
According to The Washington Post, the American College of Pediatricians is a “small group of conservative doctors” that “has sought to shape the nation’s most contentious policies on abortion and transgender rights by promoting views rejected by the medical establishment as scientific fact.”
The American College of Pediatricians promotes the discredited practice of “conversion therapy,” which has been called “torture” by some who have been subjected to it. Conversion therapy, which purports to change a human being’s sexual orientation or gender identity, is outlawed in several states, while most credible medical organizations have denounced it.
The group’s success comes at the expense of transgender youth.
“The organization’s quest to ban the use of puberty blockers and hormone therapy for transgender minors has culminated in a string of recent legislative wins following lobbying in at least eight states, internal documents show,” The Post reports. “Arkansas first enacted such a law in 2021, after Michelle Cretella, then executive director of the American College of Pediatricians, described such care as ‘experimental and dangerous‘ to legislators. A federal appeals court temporarily blocked it.”
“Versions of the law have since passed at least 20 other state legislatures, including Florida, Idaho, Indiana, West Virginia, Oklahoma, Missouri, Montana, Texas, North Dakota and Louisiana this spring alone; some face court challenges and one was vetoed by a governor. Similar bills are making their way through legislatures in North Carolina and Ohio.”
In other words, lawmakers in about half the country are working to harm transgender children, with the help of the American College of Pediatricians.
Also among the American College of Pediatricians’ more dangerous efforts over the years have been its attacks on homosexuality.
“Internal records from 2010 show how the group tied homosexuality to health risks — even death — in a letter campaignto educators, citing a 1991 study to demonstrate that for each year adolescents delay ‘self-labeling as ‘gay’,’ the risk of suicide decreases by 20 percent.”
That claim we know today is false.
“According to more recent research, suicide risk rises with therapy directed at changing sexual orientation. Lesbian, gay and bisexual people who experienced conversion therapy were almost twice as likely to think about suicide and to attempt suicide compared with peers who had not experienced conversion therapy, according to the Williams Institute at the UCLA School of Law,” The Post adds.
2010 may seem like light years ago, but LGBTQ rights were very much a large part of the national conversation back then.
In 2010, President Barack Obama directed the federal government to extend spousal benefits to same-sex couples. A critical portion of the anti-LGBTQ federal law, the Defense of Marriage Act, was ruled unconstitutional by a federal court. President Obama also signed into law the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” that year. And a federal judge ruled California’s infamous Prop 8 was unconstitutional.
But also in 2010, just as LGBTQ people were starting to be able to access the rights and recognition they had always been denied, the American College of Pediatricians sent a letter, The Post reports, “to 14,800 public school superintendents [that] urged school officials not to affirm any student expressing homosexuality. It directed them to a website operated by the group that pushed ‘sexual reorientation therapy’ for those with ‘unwanted homosexual attractions.’”
The Heritage Foundation, a once-vaunted right-wing think tank that has succumbed to pro-Trump MAGA far-right extremism, is a big fan of the American College of Pediatricians.
“They have had the courage to take stands in court and to speak as medical professionals in relating their experience when it comes to questions of human dignity in unborn life, freedom of conscience, and the protection of children,” Roger Severino, Heritage’s vice president of domestic policy, told The Post.
Severino, a far-right religious extremist, served in the Trumpadministration as the head of the Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Civil Rights.
In 2020 Severino, as The New York Times reported, “finalized a regulation that will erase protections for transgender patients against discrimination by doctors, hospitals and health insurance companies, a move announced on the four-year anniversary of the massacre at a gay nightclub in Orlando and in the middle of Pride Month.”
In its report on Thursday, The Washington Post adds that Severino “said [he] relies on the American College of Pediatricians for scientific expertise.”
Amplifying far-right wing anger that the LGBTQ Pride flag was hanging from the White House during President Joe Biden’s historic Pride celebration over the weekend, the Heritage Foundation lashed out, attacking the entire LGBTQ community and the Biden administration.
On Wednesday the Heritage Foundation declared that the LGBTQ Pride flag “does not represent anything good and it certainly does not represent America.”