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Statistics in 'Gay Agenda' Questioned : Videotape: Critics say figures on sex practices cited by doctor are not reliable.

February 22, 1993|DAVID COLKER | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Santa Cruz physician Stanley Monteith plays a prominent role in "The Gay Agenda" videotape.

In one segment, the doctor, who once headed the Santa Cruz County chapter of the John Birch Society, recites a list of sex practices--almost all exotic, including one that is sadomasochistic.

He graphically describes each one and recites statistics to show that a high percentage of homosexuals engage in each practice.

The video does not say where Monteith, who ran unsuccessfully for Congress in 1988 on the Republican ticket, got these statistics. But according to the researcher who did the study they came from, they where based on a sampling of only 41 gay men.

The 1989 study, "Effect of Homosexuality Upon Public Health and Social Order," was sponsored by the Family Research Institute of Washington, a group that describes itself as "scientists defending traditional family values." The head of the group, psychologist Paul Cameron, has been widely criticized by national scientific organizations and many sex researchers.

"Whatever he does, it is not science," said Gregory Herek, a researcher at UC Davis who has long followed Cameron's work. "You just can't take data from 41 individuals and call it a national study."

Cameron defended the statistics, saying that they were derived from a five-city, door-to-door survey conducted on straight and gay sex practices. "Ordinarily, I would say the small sample group of gay males was questionable," Cameron said. "But if you compare the results to other studies, the figures we got are very close."

Cameron cited a study done by the prestigious Kinsey Institute. But the co-author of the 1978 Kinsey study, Alan Bell, said a comparison is not valid because the institute did not undertake a wide-ranging survey of gay sex practices.

A study of gay male sex practices is under way at UC San Francisco's Center for AIDS Prevention Studies. "The figures we are getting are much less than is what is in the video," said researcher Joe Catania, referring to some sadomasochistic practices.

Cameron said his critics are biased: "They could never admit I am right because it goes against what they believe."

His critics include the American Psychological Assn., which dropped him from membership in 1983, and the American Sociological Assn., which adopted a resolution that charged that he "has consistently misinterpreted and misrepresented sociological research."

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