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LGBTQ group criticizes Johns Hopkins over views of two psychiatrists

The country's largest advocacy group for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people has criticized Johns Hopkins Medicine in its latest health index for not taking a tough stance on the controversial views of two of its psychiatrists who believe there is virtually no scientific evidence that people are born gay or transgender.

The Human Rights Campaign deducted 25 points from the medical institution's final score under the "responsible citizenship" clause. The clause focuses on activity that would undermine the care or equality of LGBTQ patients.

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The advocacy group said it made the deduction because Johns Hopkins won't say the views of Dr. Paul McHugh and Dr. Lawrence Mayer do not represent the views of the hospital and that the hospital operates in accordance with the medical consensus and appropriate standards of care.

McHugh is a university distinguished service professor of psychiatry and a professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences. Mayer divides his time as a scholar in residence at Johns Hopkins and a professor at Arizona State University. He mostly conducts research at Johns Hopkins and no longer teaches. Their views have been controversial in medical and gay rights circles.

"Our goal is to get them to make an affirmative statement," Tari Hanneman, director of the health equality project at the Human Rights Campaign said about Johns Hopkins. "We want them to say they support affirming care for LGBTQ people."

Hopkins said in a statement that last year it was awarded leadership status as part of the Human Rights Campaign Healthcare Equality Index and has expanded its commitment to provide the best possible care to all patients. Among the initiatives was creating a Center for Transgender Health, which is focused on supporting the needs of the LGBTQ community.

"As one of the world's leading research institutions, we value scientific integrity and academic freedom," they said in second statement released Wednesday. "While members of our faculty are free to share their views and opinions, it is important to understand that those do not necessarily represent the views and opinions of our institution."

The Human Rights Campaign said that McHugh and Mayer use their Hopkins affiliation for credibility and to promote unproven views, such as sexual orientation may be caused by sexual abuse during childhood. The organization argues the doctors have no expertise on the issue and have not published original research on sexual orientation or gender identity.

McHugh said he and Mayer have a right to academic expression.

"The Human Rights Campaign has its own agenda and it is true they don't think I fit their agenda," McHugh said.

Said Mayer: "They are fighting a battle and I understand when people are fighting they don't want to hear when other people disagree with them."

The Human Rights Campaign said they met with Hopkins officials over the last year to try and get them to issue a statement over LGBTQ care and that the institution was aware the new report would criticize them for not taking a stance.

It is not the first time Hopkins has gotten flak over the issue. In October Hopkin's administrators sent a letter to staff outlining the efforts it had taken regarding the care of LBGTQ patients.

Some of the efforts include adopting nondiscrimination policies that encompass gender identity, gender expression and sexual orientation, training staff on providing culturally competent care, and expanding health care benefits to cover transgender health services, including surgical procedures, with no lifetime maximum benefit.

Johns Hopkins Children's Center physicians also helped lead an American Academy of Pediatrics committee that wrote a policy statement that supports access to clinically and culturally competent health care for LGBT and gender-questioning youth.

There are also two Johns Hopkins Medicine task forces looking at how to better approach the care of LGBT patients, and the medical system plans to soon provide gender-affirming surgery.

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