Monday, July 18, 2005

Ex-Gay Letter

This morning I opened up my inbox and found an email from an ex-gay advocate. The email is in response to my recent column in the Washington Blade:
I read your essay in the Blade.

It's quite distorted.

Same-sex attraction and transgender feelings are psychopathological, preventable, and treatable. The present culture immerses the public in falsehoods.

See www.narth.com, www.gaytostraight.org, and www.peoplecanchange.com.

--Sharon Kass, Washington, D.C.

I did some research on Ms. Kass and found that she does or has worked at the American Psychological Association, writing for their magazine. I also found she frequents websites posting right-wing comments. Here is my response to her:
Dear Sharon-

Thank you for your message. Unfortunately, what you advocate for is warped and disturbing. In fact, ex-gay "therapy" is nothing more than child abuse. Requesting a child to change an unchangeable desire is a vicious form of "treatment."

As someone who has worked for or currently works for the APA (www.apa.org), you should know better than to spew fiction about homosexuality like you have been. This is not a subjective issue, and many objective and peer-reviewed studies have been done to disprove your points. Perhaps you should check out the facts on the APA's website

Reparative Therapy

The term "reparative therapy" refers to psychotherapy aimed at eliminating homosexual desires and is used by people who do not think homosexuality is one variation within human sexual orientation, but rather still believe homosexuality is a mental disorder. The most important fact about "reparative therapy," also sometimes known as "conversion" therapy, is that it is based on an understanding of homosexuality that has been rejected by all the major health and mental health professions. The American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Counseling Association, the American Psychiatric Association, the American Psychological Association, the National Association of School Psychologists, and the National Association of Social Workers, together representing more than 477,000 health and mental health professionals, have all taken the position that homosexuality is not a mental disorder and thus there is no need for a "cure."

The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, published by the American Psychiatric Association and defining the standard of the field, does not include homosexuality as a mental disorder. All other major health professional organizations have supported the American Psychiatric Association in its declassification of homosexuality as a mental disorder in 1973. Thus, the idea that homosexuality is a mental disorder or that the emergence of same-gender sexual desires among some adolescents is in any way abnormal or mentally unhealthy has no support among health and mental health professional organizations.

Despite the unanimity of the health and mental health professions on the normality of homosexuality, the idea of "reparative therapy" has recently been adopted by conservative organizations and aggressively promoted in the media. Because of this aggressive promotion of "reparative therapy," a number of the health and mental health professional organizations have recently issued public statements about "reparative therapy" as well.

The American Academy of Pediatrics in its policy statement on Homosexuality and Adolescence states: Confusion about sexual orientation is not unusual during adolescence. Counseling may be helpful for young people who are uncertain about their sexual orientation or for those who are uncertain about how to express their sexuality and might profit from an attempt at clarification through a counseling or psychotherapeutic initiative. Therapy directed specifically at changing sexual orientation is contraindicated, since it can provoke guilt and anxiety while having little or no potential for achieving changes in orientation.6

The American Counseling Association has adopted a resolution that states that it: opposes portrayals of lesbian, gay, and bisexual youth and adults as mentally ill due to their sexual orientation; and supports the dissemination of accurate information about sexual orientation, mental health, and appropriate interventions in order to counteract bias that is based on ignorance or unfounded beliefs about same-gender sexual orientation.7 Further, at its 1999 World Conference, ACA adopted a position opposing the promotion of "reparative therapy" as a "cure" for individuals who are homosexual.8

The American Psychiatric Association in its position statement on Psychiatric Treatment and Sexual Orientation states: The potential risks of "reparative therapy" are great, including depression, anxiety and self-destructive behavior, since therapist alignment with societal prejudices against homosexuality may reinforce self-hatred already experienced by the patient. Many patients who have undergone "reparative therapy" relate that they were inaccurately told that homosexuals are lonely, unhappy individuals who never achieve acceptance or satisfaction. The possibility that the person might achieve happiness and satisfying interpersonal relationships as a gay man or lesbian is not presented, nor are alternative approaches to dealing with the effects of societal stigmatization discussed.9

The American Psychological Association in its Resolution on Appropriate Therapeutic Responses to Sexual Orientation, which is also endorsed by the National Association of School Psychologists, states: That the American Psychological Association opposes portrayals of lesbian, gay, and bisexual youth and adults as mentally ill due to their sexual orientation and supports the dissemination of accurate information about sexual orientation, and mental health, and appropriate interventions in order to counteract bias that is based in ignorance or unfounded beliefs about sexual orientation.10

The National Association of Social Workers in its Policy Statement on Lesbian, Gay and Bisexual Issues: endorses policies in both the public and private sectors that ensure nondiscrimination; that are sensitive to the health and mental health needs of lesbian, gay, and bisexual people; and that promote an understanding of lesbian, gay, and bisexual cultures. Social stigmatization of lesbian, gay, and bisexual people is widespread and is a primary motivating factor in leading some people to seek sexual orientation changes.11 Sexual orientation conversion therapies assume that homosexual orientation is both pathological and freely chosen. No data demonstrate that reparative or conversion therapies are effective, and in fact they may be harmful.12 NASW believes social workers have the responsibility to clients to explain the prevailing knowledge concerning sexual orientation and the lack of data reporting positive outcomes with reparative therapy. NASW discourages social workers from providing treatments designed to change sexual orientation or from referring practitioners or programs that claim to do so.13

As these statements make clear, health and mental health professional organizations do not support efforts to change young people's sexual orientation through "reparative therapy" and have raised serious concerns about its potential to do harm. Many of the professional associations listed in the Resources section at the end of this factsheet are able to provide helpful information and local contacts to assist school administrators, health and mental health professionals, educators, teachers, and parents in dealing with school controversies in their communities.

Transformational Ministries

Transformational ministry" is a term used to describe the use of religion to eliminate homosexual desires. While "reparative therapy" relies on secular approaches, "transformational ministry" takes the approach that "freedom from homosexuality is possible through repentance and faith in Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord."14 While there is some diversity within the movement, most "transformational ministries" adhere to a belief that "upholds heterosexuality as God's creative intent for humanity, and subsequently views homosexual _expression as outside God's will."15 The "transformational ministry" movement, which began in the early 1970s, has gained more visibility in the media recently through the efforts of Christian publishers and conservative political organizations.

The most important fact about "transformational ministry" is that its view of homosexuality is not representative of the views of all people of faith. Many deeply religious people and a number of religious congregations and denominations are supportive and accepting of lesbian, gay, and bisexual people and their right to be protected from the discriminatory acts of others. For example, the following organizations have endorsed passage of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, which would prohibit employment discrimination based on sexual orientation:

American Ethical Union, American Friends Service Committee, American Jewish Committee, American Jewish Congress, Church of the Brethren, Church Women United, Dignity/USA, Episcopal Church, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, Hadassah, WZOA, The Interfaith Alliance, Jewish Women International, National Council of Churches of Christ, USA, National Council of Jewish Women, North Georgia United Methodists, Presbyterian Church (USA), Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, Unitarian Universalist Association, United Church of Christ, United Methodist Church, Women of Reform Judaism, Young Women's Christian Association

Although "transformational ministry" promotes the message that religious faith and acceptance of gay, lesbian, and bisexual sexuality are incompatible, that message is countered by the large number of outspoken clergy and people of faith who promote love and acceptance.
***
If you are an "ex-gay" yourself, I am sorry for the sad life you choose to lead or the sad life you lure other innocent souls into leading. Perhaps you and followers of ex-gay ministries would do good to check out this site.

Sincerely,

Graham N. Murphy

Check out the Ex-Gay Watch blog

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I think you doth protest too much Miss Kass. How dare you belittle people for just loving another person. Get out of the closet honey. You'll be much happier.