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External Articles | Posted: September 5, 2010

Kinsey Institute Controversy

Federal Relations Update, May 1996

By Christopher Simpson

Last fall's flap over 50-year-old research by Alfred Kinsey continues to percolate. As you recall, Representative Steve Stockman, a first-term conservative House member from southeast Texas, has introduced legislation calling for an investigation into an aspect of Kinsey's research that Stockman contends was federally funded and involved children. Neither of the two charges are true, but despite that fact, Stockman's legislation lingers. Conservative Women of America, an arch-conservative grassroots organization, has seized on the issue in its fund-raising and communications efforts. Partially as a result, Kinsey Institute Director Dr. John Bancroft sent the following letter to the 40 co-sponsors of the legislation, one of whom is Indiana Representative Mark Souder:

"April 30, 1996
As a co-sponsor to HR 2749, you have recently received much information about the Kinsey Institute and the work of Alfred Kinsey. I would like the opportunity to clarify some misperceptions that have been widely disseminated.

Opponents of the Kinsey Institute have incorrectly stated that Alfred Kinsey carried out sexual experiments on children, received federal funds for his research, and was fraudulent in his reporting of results. Nothing could be further from the truth, and, as director of the Kinsey Institute, I have made these points repeatedly in the last 18 months. Our detractors have ignored these corrections.

Kinsey did speak to a number of men who had committed sexual crimes against children, and he reported information he obtained from such men in his first male volume published in 1948. However, in the book, he made clear how he obtained the information. Whereas you are entitled to question the validity or scientific value of such information obtained from such sources, it is important to point out that Kinsey was not involved in any criminal activity himself, he did not carry out or promote any sexual experiments on children, and did not present any information about children or adults in a fraudulent manner.

Claims have been made that the information he obtained from sexual criminals about children's sexual responses forms the basis of modern sex education. There is simply no truth in these claims. If the whole chapter on children's sexuality (which contained much more information than that obtained from criminals) had been omitted from the book it would have made absolutely no difference to the evolution of sex education in the United States.

In general, Kinsey's work clearly influenced much thinking about sexuality in the U.S. and elsewhere, but his specific research findings have not influenced sex education in the U.S. In more recent times, there have been many other sources of information which have been far more important in setting the agenda for modern sex education.

We have tried in vain to relay this information to Representative Stockman--in person, in writing and by telephone. He has adamantly refused our attempts to clarify and set the record straight. The Kinsey Institute today has an international reputation as a leader in interdisciplinary research in sexuality, and is among the nation's leaders in providing clinical treatment for a variety of medical problems related to sex and reproductive health. Our work and our reputation is being attacked by this preoccupation with a small portion of research performed nearly a half-century ago. I would be delighted to meet with you or discuss this in more detail if it would be helpful.

John Bancroft, M.D.
Director, Kinsey Institute"