When 'good intentions' go bad: LGBT+ teen fiction and the Church
Leading LGBT teen fiction author, Simon James Green, was invited to promote his Noah series to lads aged 12 to 14 (school years 8 and 9) at the John Fisher School, London, in conjunction with LGBTQ History Month and World Book Day.
Speaking on 'Owning the Awkward', navigating teen years, writing and publishing, Green was also to autograph his Noah books for young fans.
However, the visit was subsequently cancelled by Archbishop John Wilson, who has since been roundly condemned.
Between the covers
Reading the misfortunes of (apparently) 'gay' Noah is painful. His trauma and angst, and - apart from his grandmother - family dysfunctionality, rightly elicit our deepest sympathy.
However, in my view, Green's ideologically-driven 'solutions' provide scant real help.
In Noah Could Never, Green celebrates a teen world drenched in the flippantly, ironically erotic.
For example, in Chapter One, we get the blow-by-blow description of an orgasm:
'Uh, uh, uh, uh...' 'Come on, come on... that's it...' ... 'Harder! Harder!' 'Ah, ah, ah, ah...' 'YEAH' ...'OH YES! OH YES!' ...
For Noah, 'Yes, they were sounds of pain. But a sort of pleasure-pain. Almost like ... like the person making the noises wanted to be in searing agony. Like they were enjoying it.'
Similarly, in Noah Can't Even, the Lord's Prayer becomes blasphemy:
'Our Father, who art the gay boy? Noah be his name ... He makes Harry come. He gives him one. On earth as it is in heaven ... And lead him straight into temptation. Right into a gay bar. For Noah is a gay boy. Who likes to suck cock. For ever and ever. He's gay.'
Is such content appropriate 'literature' for 12-year-old lads to read, and Christian schools to promote?
Trans issues are complex, but it's important to note a 2017 US study reporting serious liabilities in assessing risk by children under 14. Given this and other data, why are youngsters deemed competent to make potentially life-altering decisions about their gender?
Overt and subliminal sexualisation
For psychologist Dr Kate Godfrey-Fausset, this type of material 'will [ultimately and] inevitably awaken, sexualize, and/or promote sexual curiosity and experimentation'.
'The fact that much of the sexual content and messaging is implied or subliminal makes it no less harmful,' she says.
Flat earth science and playing with fire
To make wise decisions, adolescents must know facts, not fiction. Does Green understand the neuroscience of sex? [See Hooked, by Freda McKissic Bush and Joe McIlhaney, for more on this topic.] Is he aware of the serious public health concerns for sexually active children and MSMs [Men who have Sex with Men].
Data from within the MSM community reveal the serious risks inherent in anal sex, with its associated diseases and damage. In general, STIs and STDs are overrepresented in the MSM community, amounting to 2.9% of the population according to 2019 figures from the Office for National Statistics. Other figures show that they account for 41% of new HIV infections (Terrence Higgins Trust 2019), 67% increasingly-hard-to-treat new gonorrhoea cases and 83% of new syphilis cases (PHE 2020).
Is he aware of how immature teen anatomy and physiology places them at risk? Teen developmental challenges include: the immature prefrontal cortex
(PFC) - the judgement and inhibition centre which regulates emotion and moderates behaviour; high levels of sex hormones which can lead to increased and dangerous thrill-seeking and risk-taking; and increased vulnerability to addictions.
For adolescent psychiatrist Dr Miriam Grossman, young people are taught they can safely play with fire, while the offices of doctors and therapists are filled with those who have been burned, inside and out.
'Once gay' good news
The good news is that there is a thriving emerging 'once gay' community. They have been there, done that, and yet have discovered a much better life outside LGBT world. X Out-Loud leads the way here.
Archbishop John made the right call on Green's school visit. Green's ideology is highly problematic and youngsters deserve better. Hopefully the Archbishop can platform the 'once gay' voice to offer the best possible help and understanding for all youngsters.
Dr Lisa Nolland is CEO of the Marriage Sex and Culture Group, London.