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Karen Franklin

Karen Franklin is a forensic psychologist who published research on the psychosocial motivations of antigay violence perpetrators for her dissertation.[1] She received a fellowship to fund her dissertation from the Harry Frank Guggenheim Foundation and received recognition from the Monette/Horwitz Trust which "acknowledges the accomplishments of organizations and persons working in arenas ranging from academic research and creative expression to activism and community organizing." She is adjunct faculty at the California School of Professional Psychology, Alliant International University. She has also written against including hebephilia (the sexual preference for 11-14 year old pubescents) as a pathology, especially in the case of girls.


Franklin earned her Bachelor of Arts degree in journalism from San Francisco State University in 1982, and worked as a daily newspaper journalist and a criminal investigator before entering the field of psychology. She earned her Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology from the California School of Professional Psychology in Alameda, California, and went on to obtain a postdoctoral fellowship in forensic psychology through the University of Washington.

After working in Washington at a state prison and a mental hospital, she returned to California and started a private forensic psychology practice specializing in the evaluation of criminal and juvenile offenders.

She teaches forensic psychology courses at Alliant International University, and has taught a course on sexual violence in the Sexuality Studies Program at San Francisco State University. Her peer-reviewed publications have appeared in the American Behavioral Scientist, the Journal of Interpersonal Violence, the Journal of Forensic Psychology Practice, and other academic publications. She is a frequent media commentator,[2] and also hosts forensic psychology news blog In the News.


Hate crimes research

During the 1990s, a hate crimes lobby in the United States resulted in the passage of federal and state laws that increased punishment for crimes in which bias played a role. Much of the extant research on hate crimes relied on victim accounts of perpetrators and their motivations. Thus, Franklin set about to determine the self-described motivations of hate crime offenders themselves through a combination of in-depth interviews and a population survey.

Her finding that many assailants held little animosity toward homosexuals challenged the dominant notions of hate crime motivations. "Although the term hate crime conjures up images of swastikas, burning crosses, bigoted zealots, and a right-wing fringe far removed from America’s more socially tolerant center, … so-called ‘gay-bashings’ by young males suggests that it is a type of transient offense committed primarily as a result of environmental rather than internal psychological factors."[3]

In her 1995 survey of 500 young adults,[4] Franklin found that antigay behaviors were commonplace among a noncriminal population. One-third of her sample, and about half of the young men, admitted to physical violence or namecalling directed at perceived homosexuals. Franklin proposed dividing hate crimes assailants based on the symbolic themes that motivated their assaults. She conceptualized "value expressive assailants" as social norms enforcers who were punishing sexual minorities for perceived moral transgressions, whereas "social expressive assailants" are motivated by social and environmental factors.

Franklin’s study received extensive media coverage, including in the The New York Times,[5] the Los Angeles Times,[6] The Boston Globe,[7] and elsewhere.[8] She was also featured in a 1995 Public Broadcasting Services documentary, "Assault on Gay America."[9]

Theory of multiple-offender rape

She proposed that group rape of women and violence against homosexuals were “parallel forms of cultural theater, with the victims serving as interchangeable dramatic props.” [10] She argued that the social functions of both types of group violence included social bonding, the celebration of power, and the public display of heterosexual masculinity.


She is a critic of what she calls "pretextual" uses of psychiatric diagnosis in the forensic arena.[11] She has expressed that hebephilia (the sexual preference for 11-14 year old pubescents) should not be deemed a disorder in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) of the American Psychiatric Association, arguing that "large proportions of heterosexual men are sexually attracted to young pubescent girls."[12]


  • Franklin, K. (1997). “Unassuming Motivations: Contextualizing the Narratives of Antigay Assailants.” In: G. Herek (Ed.) Stigma and Sexual Orientation. Sage Publications
  • Franklin, K. (2000). “Antigay Behaviors by Young Adults: Prevalence, Patterns and Motivators in a Noncriminal Population.” Journal of Interpersonal Violence, Vol. 15 No. 4
  • Franklin, K. (2002). "Good Intentions: the Enforcement of Hate Crime Penalty-Enhancement Statutes". American Behavioral Scientist 46: 154. doi:10.1177/0002764202046001010. edit
  • Franklin, K. (2004). "Enacting Masculinity: Antigay Violence and Group Rape as Participatory Theater". Sexuality Research and Social Policy: Journal of NSRC 1: 25–20. doi:10.1525/srsp.2004.1.2.25. edit
  • Franklin, K. (2008). “Malingering as a Dichotomous Variable: Case Report on an Insanity Defendant,” Journal of Forensic Psychology Practice. Vol. 8 No. 1, pp. 95-107.
  • Franklin, K. (2010). "Hebephilia: Quintessence of Diagnostic Pretextuality," Behavioral Sciences and the Law. Published online in Wiley InterScience( DOI: 10.1002/bsl.934


  1. Franklin, K. (2000). “Antigay Behaviors by Young Adults: Prevalence, Patterns and Motivators in a Noncriminal Population.” Journal of Interpersonal Violence, Vol. 15 No. 4
  2. Franklin, K. (2009, Aug. 29). Jaycee Dugard, transfixed by a monster, Guardian of UK
  3. Franklin, K. and Herek, G. (2008) “Sexual minorities, violence against,” Encyclopedia of Violence, Peace and Conflict, 2nd Edition, Oxford: Elsevier
  4. Franklin, K. (2000). "Antigay Behaviors by Young Adults: Prevalence, Patterns and Motivators in a Noncriminal Population." Journal of Interpersonal Violence, Vol. 15 No. 4
  5. Brooke, James (1998, October 14), "Homophobia Often Found In Schools, Data Show," New York Times, Page A-19
  6. Bettina Boxall and Duane Noriyuki (1999, May 28), "Abuse of gay students brings increase in lawsuits," Los Angeles Times.
  7. Graff, E. J. (1999, April 11) “Beyond Matthew Shepard case,” Boston Globe
  8. Smith, Carol (1998, August 20, "Study finds extensive anti-gay behavior," Seattle Post-Intelligencer.
  9. Public Broadcasting Service (February 15, 2000), Assault on Gay America
  10. “Enacting Masculinity: Antigay Violence and Group Rape as Participatory Theater.” Sexuality Research & Social Policy. Vol. 1 No. 2, pp. 25-40
  11. Diagnostic controversies in forensic psychology practice,” California Psychologist (January/February), pp. 14-16
  12. Franklin, K. (2009). The public policy implications of 'Hebephilia': A response to Blanchard et al. Archives of Sexual Behavior, 38, 319-320. doi: 10.1007/s10508-008-9425-y

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