Don't impose on us, says group that calls homosexuality dangerous to America's national health
While the new APA report on "ex-gay" efforts absolutely encourages respect for people of faith and for conservative faith views in general, it's bottom, inarguable line is that (a) faith is not science, and (b) the science surrounding "gay change" does not give any credence to religious-based "ex-gay" initiatives. The gist of the report can be summed up like so:
The task force recommended that licensed mental health care providers treating such clients help them "explore possible life paths that address the reality of their sexual orientation, reduce the stigma associated with homosexuality, respect the client's religious beliefs, and consider possibilities for a religiously and spiritually meaningful and rewarding life."
"In other words," Glassgold said, "we recommend that psychologists be completely honest about the likelihood of sexual orientation change, and that they help clients explore their assumptions and goals with respect to both religion and sexuality."
Respect faith, but don't lie about the concrete evidence about sexual orientation. We're totally okay with that. It's the same way we respect creationism, just as long as it isn't imposed on our kids in a public school's science class.
But how do the folks at Exodus International, America's largest purveyor of faith-based "ex-gay truth," spin these new findings? Like this:
Orlando, FL- The American Psychological Association has released a new report today at its annual convention in Toronto acknowledging that an individual's faith is an important variable when it comes to dealing with conflicts between religious beliefs and same-sex attraction. Exodus International, the largest worldwide ministry to those in conflict with their sexuality and faith, says this report acknowledges religious diversity and hopes to see more efforts to ensure this in the future.
While Exodus does not fully agree with the APA's crticisms of clinical techniques such as reparative therapy and its view of sexual orientation change, the report does recognize that some choose to live their lives in congruence with religious values. The report also encourages therapists to avoid imposing a specific outcome on clients.
"The role of religion and the importance of faith cannot be understated when it comes to the ongoing dialogue over sexual and gender identity," said [Exodus president Alan Chambers]. "It is an essential element of many people's lives and creates great moral conflict and tension for those who struggle with unwanted same-sex attraction. We are grateful that the APA has acknowledged this and hope to see more done to ensure that religious diversity and personal autonomy are respected in the future."
APA Releases Report on Sexuality Debate [Exodus]
And you know what? Exodus' statements would be fair enough. Fair enough if not for the fact that they are the ones who work day and night to "impose specific outcomes" on EVERYONE!!!!!!!!!!! Basically, this organization wants us to respect their personal faith and their work with their own flock, yet they want the world to respect that their version of scientifically un-supported truth is factual! They preach about the "ongoing dialogue," but the reality is that want EVERYONE to buy into their factually inaccurate monologue!
Consider the followings statements, all of which appear in Exodus International's FAQ:
"Homosexuality is dangerous to the well being of the family and America."
"America’s national health is predicated on the health of her families. Families who embrace, accept, or try to ignore homosexual sin issues are never healthy"
These are not statements that respect the actual, credible science that is out there. These are not statements that acknowledge that they're nothing more than faith-based, personally-held, scientifically-challenged opinions. These are not words that are meant to respect those of us who prefer to employ actual data. These are activist statements, meant to not only "change" gay people as a whole, but also to change the entire course of the LGBT debate in a way that denies a community of its natural role within the spectrum of normalcy! And these are comments that are used to support the political endeavors of the "pro-family" community as a whole, with the leaders of their side routinely employing "it's a choice" logic (with Exodus members often used as "proof") to justify their discrimination in areas like marriage, hate crimes, and employment non-discirmination!
This double standard is the core problem, and it is time for us to FORCE groups like Exodus to address it. If we are expected to respect those individuals who choose to shun the prevailing opinions of the credible mental health community in favor of their own spiritual faith (and we totally do!), then their organized movement must -- MUST! -- acknowledge that every last statement that they make about the LGBT community is (a) a religiously-informed opinion, (b) the true choice at play in this debate, and (c) information that is unsupported by fair-minded research. Until they do, we will never, ever be able to respect the "ex-gay" community's work. We would have to do so at our own peril, both on a personal and a socio-political level.
Once again, they choose to cherry-pick certain statements and blow it up into an entire theologically-supported belief. It drives me crazy how they insist they are entitled to take specific statements and build an analysis, whether from the Bible or the APA report, yet we are blasted and ridiculed about taking statements out of context any time we do the same with their writings or speeches!
Posted by: Ken | Aug 6, 2009 10:44:30 AM
According to the AP story:
"The APA task force took as a starting point the belief that homosexuality is a normal variant of human sexuality, not a disorder, and that it nonetheless remains stigmatized in ways that can have negative consequences."
Well with such a presupposition, their findings aren't findings at all. They are just natural conclusions from this presupposition. Any behavior that they determine is a normal variant would find the same conclusions. The study is a joke and has very little to do with "science."
Posted by: Ernie | Aug 6, 2009 11:50:25 AM
They are not winning any battles and losing the war. And they know it. They reek of desperation.
Posted by: John Ozed | Aug 6, 2009 11:53:23 AM
Slightly OT, but since you mentioned it, my pastor said that the prospect of "intelligent design" being taught in science class was once again to be discussed at the Methodist annual conference. He sighed and said, "I thought we were past this."
Posted by: Bonnie_Half-Elven | Aug 6, 2009 12:12:35 PM
Ernie: rather than read what the AP, today's incredibly skewed Wall Street Journal piece, or anyone else (including this site) tells you, I would encourage you to first and foremost go read the report for yourself. This 138 page report cannot and should not be summarized with one sentence talking points.
Posted by: G-A-Y | Aug 6, 2009 12:17:56 PM
Bullsh*t. I cannot believe Exodus would make these outrageous statements.
"Families who embrace, accept, or try to ignore homosexual sin issues are never healthy"
Where did they find this statistic? This is a slap in the face to all families that have embraced their gay children.
I clicked on one of the statement links and found this tid bit:
"Abuse or feelings of rejection or alienation often create strife between parent and child at an early age sometimes, resulting in gender confusion. The gender confused child seeks to correct the growing distance between him/her and his/her same gendered parent by actions that range from total obedience to total disobedience."
Posted by: KZ | Aug 6, 2009 12:21:06 PM
Exactly my point, KZ. They want to have their personal faith views, but also lie about science. There is no comparison between the way our two sides operate. In fact, their side should not even be a "side" in any factual debate on orientation!!!!!
Posted by: G-A-Y | Aug 6, 2009 12:26:50 PM
"Well with such a presupposition, their findings aren't findings at all. They are just natural conclusions from this presupposition. Any behavior that they determine is a normal variant would find the same conclusions. The study is a joke and has very little to do with "science."
Yeah I'm sure you get your science from respectable institutions like NARTH. They determined homosexuality was normal in the 70s when they took it off the big list of mental disorders.
But you keep ignoring science and common sense that says gays cant change. Might as well become a creationist if your gonna ignore science for bullshit reasons.
Posted by: penguinsaur | Aug 6, 2009 12:27:11 PM
Sadly, some people cannot even have a decent discussion on this. I will read the entire study - not a problem. I did not know the AP was a "right wing organization" but I will take that under advisement.
I know for some of you anecdotal is not evidence but why is it dismissed? What do you do with people who have come out of one lifestyle and enter into another? Why is it when it's from hetero to homo, it is embraced but the other way it is ridiculed?
I've worked in studies with men who were HIV positive and spoke with them often and honestly. There was quite a split between those who thought they were born homosexual and others who said they chose the life. Should I ignore this?
Anyone who has ever worked in research knows that you can skew a study very easily. Read with discernment all...
Posted by: Ernie | Aug 6, 2009 12:40:53 PM
Ernie: Who said the AP was a right-wing organization? That's not written anywhere on this site, either in the post or comments.
Posted by: G-A-Y | Aug 6, 2009 12:51:03 PM
Calling being gay 'a lifestyle'? check.
Objecting to the idea of gays being considered normal when it hasnt been considered a disorder by anyone but bigots since the 70s? check.
Implying that the single most respected mental health organization in America skewed the results for no tangible reason? Check
Keep posting, give us your honest opinion on gays. Lets fill up this checklist.
Posted by: penguinsaur | Aug 6, 2009 1:03:20 PM
Sorry to not clarify - I assumed that the WSJ fell under the category of "bias" and probably "right wing". I also assume that this site comes with its own bias. Therefore the AP must have some agenda as well. Overall, it was a failed attempt at humor. I will read the report but let us all realize that the APA also has their agenda & people behind the scenes pushing certain views. If you don't read with discernment then you might as well not read at all.
Posted by: Ernie | Aug 6, 2009 1:25:58 PM
"Anyone who has ever worked in research knows that you can skew a study very easily. Read with discernment all..."
Ernie, I think the "read with discernment all..." is really an admonition that you should be giving (equally) to those on the other side of this debate. There is no science that supports the Exodus claims, and Exodus, nonetheless, has little problem with interjecting their own scientifically baseless opinion in an attempt to trick readers into believing that there is scientific evidence.
And, as for your claim that you have spoken to actual gay men who told you that they "chose" to become gay .. that's a lie. And, that is why "anecdotal" evidence (as you call it) is incredibly dangerous. Because third and fourth hand information is untrustworthy - especially when it's being repeated by someone who has a personal stake in the veracity of the claim.
Posted by: Dick Mills | Aug 6, 2009 1:32:14 PM
Well since everyone has become so friendly to the contrarian view...it's sad to say you are no different than the people you condemn.
Nonetheless a couple comments are in order.
First, Mr. Mills - am I a liar for writing something you don't like or do you know I made it up? Fact - I worked for 5 years in research at a major hospital. Fact - my first study was on HIV positive men. Fact - I spoke to them just as I said. Fact - you don't like what I said.
Another Fact - personally spoke with a major gay activist 6 years ago. He left the movement and was demonized because he said that a signficant number of people who were homosexual had experienced some kind of sexual abuse as children. Fact - I spoke with him at a Denny's just weeks before he died of AIDS.
To others - all the people on the Task Force are openly against "treatment" and very pro-homosexual. They are no less biased going in than the people at Exodus.
I will continue to read it but don't you find it amazing that now that psychologists have changed their tune (30+ years ago very different view), you now love them. Do you remember 30+ years ago the science community warned us of another Ice Age? I do. Don't believe everything they say. It seems the "facts" are ever-changing...
Posted by: Ernie | Aug 6, 2009 2:00:21 PM
Final questions since I have to leave. I am sure they will cause a stir but I have never heard them answered:
If a person is born homosexual as it seems you are saying, what other things that some categorize as "behaviors" should be viewed similarly - How about an attraction to young boys or girls? How about bestiality? How about rape? What do we say about people who are bi-sexual - have they just been born liking sex with anyone? Without any known gene, when do we as humans take responsibility for our actions and when are we left with - I was just born this way (even though science cannot prove this)?
Thank you to all who respond without malice but honestly try to respond to these questions.
For those who cannot, why do you get so angry at someone who does not agree with you? What kind of "tolerance" is that anyway?
Posted by: Ernie | Aug 6, 2009 2:23:00 PM
Yeah yeah we've heard your bull before. You have all kinds of anecdotes, you have purposely unnamed 'gay leaders' agreeing with you and you know for a fact every scientist who thinks NARTH is full of crap is 'pro-homosexual' just like scientists who accept evolution are 'anti-christian'.
Why dont you tell us EXACTLY what you think about gay people and how they should be treated. Lets stop pretending you refuse to accept a report about homosexuality being normal and unchangeable because of 'scientific curiosity'
Posted by: penguinsaur | Aug 6, 2009 3:22:09 PM
We are not arguing here whether homosexuality is inborn or not. The issue is that there is no evidence to support conversion therapy. Even IF people aren't born gay, that does not necessarily mean homosexuality is a choice or that it can be "cured." Many things happen to some people that leave them in that way for the rest of their lives (like accidents or traumas). I don't see movements claiming to make paraplegics walk again pushing propaganda and legislation against people in wheelchairs.
Posted by: ---- | Aug 6, 2009 5:10:57 PM
Ernie, you can claim all you want that the APA's report has little to do with science, but that doens't change the fact that conversion therapies are nothing more than snake oil to lure in vulnerable individuals shamed by their religious communities.
I can claim firsthand experience with Dr. Nicolosi's intern, whom I was forced to see because my parents were in a period of frightened temporary insanity. NARTH's claims are based on outdated, Freudian psychobabble which plays out beautifully onstage, but does not apply to reality. Contrary to their 'mommy makes you a sissy and daddy doesn't make you a man' rhetoric, I had a wonderful relationship with my parents until I was forced to fly to the other side of California every other week to see a quack doctor with an agenda to make me hate myself.
Luckily, I knew enough about Freud and his legacy to ignore the efforts of my charlatan 'therapist' and continue to love my parents, despite their huge lapse in judgment.
I am not trying to argue one way or the other in regards to whether or not sexualities are determined by genetics or by environment (I believe it's a blend of both). What I am saying is that the supposed 'lack of a male identity' Nicolosi and his ilk profess I have is nothing more than a scheme created to cheat frightened parents out of their money. Now if you'll excuse me, I'm going to go call both of my parents and enjoy their unconditional love.
Posted by: Marcus | Aug 6, 2009 10:28:16 PM
Of course there is a distinction between orientation and behavior. I don't think anyone is denying that. The issue is whether either the orientation or the behavior in itself brings any measurable harm, and the APA cannot see that it does.
If a behavior does not in fact bring harm to anyone, but instead increases the joy, happiness, and stability to the participants involved, then it's really damn hard to see how there's any sort of moral prohibition against it. In fact, it's much easier to see how this sort of action would be good.
However, the issue of this particular post is supposed to be about how the APA *overwhelmingly* doesn't recommend reparative therapy because of how high the risks are to mental stability, not when people have to start taking "responsibility" for their behavior.
Posted by: Jonathan | Aug 7, 2009 6:29:31 AM
Final Comments to address all of the random thoughts (some kind and some not so kind) that were posted after I left for meetings.
To Penguinsaur: You insinuate what Mr. Mills stated emphatically - you think I am lying. Unfortunately, you would be wrong. I am sorry that I do not remember names from 10 years ago and 6-7 years ago or even longer than that when I went to Carnegie Mellon and homosexual friends. I was not keeping track in order to write on this site. I have other accounts but neither will they be of any use to you.
Secondly, I never mentioned NARTH and don't believe in Freudian psychobabble either (agreeing with Marcus here). All I said was that the people on the Task Force have built their careers on a pro-homosexual view. You don't have to have a PhD to see that. You just don't want to see any bias on your side yet you rage against bias on the other.
Finally you want to know what I think about gay people and how I think gay people should be treated. Fair enough - I believe that homosexual behavior is a sin to God just like I think lying, cheating, stealing, and a host of other actions/thoughts are. I do not believe it is natural as in our purposed design. Homosexual thoughts and behavior just happen to be sins I have not committed personally but I am familiar enough with sin. I believe gay people should be treated with the same respect as all other people. I am a Christian. That's who I am. I am appalled by some Christians who have said & written horrible things about homosexuals. I do believe that Jesus died on the Cross as a substitute for sin and that whoever believes in Him, their sins are forgiven and a whole bunch of other amazing things. I could go on but you probably have shut down already.
To others - the whole nature/nurture question is intriguing and the answer is not certain. I am inclined to believe both. To the person who used a paraplegic as an example - I could use an alcoholic as a counter. I hope you see the similarity yet very different conclusions.
To say the debate is over just because one side got the verdict they wanted is absurd. It's a similar argument the pro-abortion people use. Before the 1970's the other side could have said the same thing - you would have been upset and ignored it.
Marcus - as I said above, NARTH is not my guide to any of this. Enjoy the unconditional love of your parents - praise God for it. As a parent, I love my children unconditionally but I also discipline/instruct them when they do wrong. Love is other focused and is not about "me."
To all - I am not convinced by any means that leading your current lifestyle does not bring measurable harm. I don't know how anyone can even say that it does not. You argue that therapy leads to harm but it seems more appropriate and accurate to say that both may lead to harm.
Some complained that I went off the topic but I disagree. This all encompasses the study, the conclusions, and the possible biases brought by both sides. I do not believe my questions were addressed and I am okay with that.
Posted by: Ernie | Aug 7, 2009 12:19:24 PM
The APA report makes the essential point that aversion/conversion therapy is not capable of achieving its goal, being that of “curing” the homosexual of what some consider to be an illness. The very concept behind such efforts to change sexual orientation is simply ludicrous. It makes no sense physiologically and is misguided morally. The fact that there are persons who believe it should be undertaken serves as yet another reminder that a large segment of society still regards gay men and women as second-class citizens – or worse. That is the salient point of my recently released biographical novel, Broken Saint. It is based on my forty-year friendship with a gay Mormon man, and chronicles his internal and exxternal struggles as he battles for acceptance (of himself and by others). The story includes an episode in which the Church convinces the main character to undergo the type of therapy discussed here and, of course, it fails miserably. More information about the book is available at http://www.eloquentbooks.com/BrokenSaint.html.
Mark Zamen, author
Posted by: Mark Zamen | Aug 13, 2009 12:55:24 PMcomments powered by Disqus