Tuesday, August 11, 2009

APA Says Reparative Therapy Unlike to Work, Anti-Gays Fail to Care

The American Psychological Association (APA), recently issued a report entitled "Appropriate Therapeutic Responses to Sexual Orientation," (PDF) which is a "systematic review of the peer-reviewed journal literature on sexual orientation change efforts." This review "concluded that efforts to change sexual orientation are unlikely to be successful and involve some risk of harm."

Last week, we saw that the American Bar Association came out in opposition to part of the Defense of Marriage Act. Within that article, I noted "what professional organizations say about marriage equality and LGBT rights holds little sway in the minds of those whose minds are already turned against the Gay Agenda." Some people are so convinced that experts are "politically motivated" or unduly influenced by the "homosexual lobby," that no amount of expert testimony will convince them that homosexuality is anything other than wrong, immoral, unhealthy, dangerous, and all-around evil.

This meme of the Incredible Power of the Gay is one that professional "marriage defenders" perpetuate in order to justify the continued mistreatment and oppression of LGBT people. LGBT people cannot be truly oppressed, they argue, because the "homosexual lobby" is rich, powerful, and able to exert disproportionate amounts of influence on society.

For instance, Christian "news" source LifeSiteNews ran an article a few years ago about some Dr.* who wrote a book outlining "the influence of gay organizations on the American Psychiatric Association, the American Psychological Association, and the National Association of Social Workers, which has lead [sic] them to abandon scientific accuracy and authentic research in order to support the political goals of the homosexual community." (*Educated folk with graduate degrees are acceptable to anti-gays as long as they hold anti-gay views. Pro-gay educated folk, however, are obviously "Elitists" who are tainted by the radical, leftist, Marxist ideology that permeates the universities.)

However, in response to the APA's new document regarding sexual orientation "therapy," the National Association for Therapy and Research of Homosexuality (NARTH)
appears to do exactly what anti-gays accuse the Gay Lobby of doing- namely, to urge professional organizations to abandon scientific accuracy and authentic research in order to support NARTH's political goals. Specifically, NARTH has blasted the APA report for a failure to reflect "ideological diversity."

Those who believe homosexuality to be a mental disorder, you will find, often speak out of both sides of their mouths. Out of one side, they claim to support scientific inquiry yet, when studies don't conform to their political beliefs, they complain that scientific evidence fails to represent their ideology. Within such an argument, I think there is a very real confusion about the concepts of science and truth. Namely, while we are all entitled to our opinions, we are not all entitled to our own facts. Too often, anti-gay ideologues mistake their opinions for fact or worse, they demand the reality-based world to treat their opinions as facts. And, if we don't, they cry religious, political, or ideological persecution.

This NARTH response further accuses the "activist" APA task force of ignoring certain studies that would lead to a different conclusion about sexual orientation change.

On that note, let's back up and take a look at the APA's new document regarding sexual orientation "therapy." For starters, the APA established a Task Force in 2007 to review and update the "Resolution on Appropriate Therapeutic Responses to Sexual Orientation (APA 1998)," to generate a report discussing the appropriate applications of various therapeutic interventions, and to inform APA's response to groups that promote to treatment to change a person's sexual orientation.

To do this, the task force reviewed 83 peer-reviewed journal articles in English from 1960 to 2007 and, importantly, decided which articles to review prior to actually reviewing them. The basis for exclusion was whether a study had "serious methodological problems" that did "not meet the minimal standards for evaluating psychological treatments, including efforts to change sexual orientation, are effective." Furthermore, the task force writes:

"In our review, we considered only peer-reviewed research, in keeping with current standards for conducting scientific reviews (see Khan, Kunz, Kleijnen,
& Antes, 2003), which exclude the grey literature and lay material."

Grey literature is "any publication in any format published outside of peer-reviewed scientific journals." So, it's not so much that the APA task force excluded studies tainted by a certain ideology, but rather because some studies were rejected because they have not been subjected to formal scrutiny by an independent panel of scholarly or scientific peers. In fact, despite reparative therapy advocate Joseph Nicolosi's claim that the APA review "overlooked years of clinical research that shows sexual orientation is changeable through therapy," his own name and research appears in the APA's document a whopping 60 times. If other studies by "reparative therapists" were "overlooked," it is because they were not included in peer-reviewed scientific journals or because they had "serious methodological problems."

In addition, the task force read comments and materials submitted from "the public, professionals, and other organizations" including those who were nominated but not chosen to be on the task force.

So, here again, I think we are seeing a confusion about truth and opinion. Some anti-gay ideologues feel entitled have their views presented as Scientific Truth, not because their views actually are scientific truth, but because their views are different. If their opinions don't meet scientific standards, they feel that those who live more reality-based lives are persecuting them. They feel that the world is conspiring against them.

And, I suppose, in a way the world- or reality anyway- is.

Despite the weight of peer-reviewed journal literature that counters their anti-gay ideology, those whose Oppose-Everything-Gay Lenses are lasered into their eyes will continue insisting that gay people can and should abandon their choice of homosexuality and instead "opt" for the heterosexual lifestyle. They will do so even though a task force of experts has found that "enduring change to one's sexual orientation was unlikely," that "clients perceived a benefit when offered interventions that emphasize acceptance, support, and recognition of important values and concerns," and that "experiences of felt stigma... played a role in creating distress in individuals."


Because even though the anti-gay idealogue accuses LGBT people and allies of sacrificing Truth for a radical political agenda, what they are really doing is offering us yet another Weapon of Mass Projection. It is that same selfish, anti-gay worldview that enables people to insist that children are better of being raised in orphanages than by same-sex couples. It is part of a larger busy-body movement that, despite all of their protestations about supposedly not caring about what we do in our own bedrooms, seeks to nonetheless re-pathologize what we do in our bedrooms.


Because they can.

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