"Ex-Gay" Ministries and “Reparative Therapy”
Ex-gay ministries use out-of-date and scientifically disproved medical theories to justify trying to “cure” lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) peoples' natural sexual orientation or gender identity.
Originally, these ministries were a small group of religious people who were virtually unknown. However, because of high-profile ad campaigns and conferences sponsored by the religious right these ministries have become a political tool in the ongoing fight to deny LGBT civil rights.
Ex-gay ministries believe three main things:
- They are called to love LGBT people who are "struggling with sexual orientation and gender identity"
- Homosexual orientation and transgender identity are chosen or are the result of bad childhood experiences
- They cannot condone this "sinful" behavior and are therefore called on to change the sexual orientation of LGBT people.
PFLAG’s Position On "Reparative Therapy"
Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG) joins the American Psychiatric Association, the American Psychological Association, the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Counseling Association and the American Medical Association in rejecting efforts by professional and religious groups to change anyone's sexual orientation. We believe such efforts are harmful to the emotional and mental health of the targeted individuals. These attempts originate from cultural bias based on myth, misperception and misunderstanding. We encourage all professional, educational and religious organizations to work toward changing these cultural biases rather than embarking on futile and damaging efforts to change an individual's sexual orientation or gender identity.
(Adopted by the Board of Directors, January 17, 2000 and revised November 4, 2011.)
Facts Regarding "Reparative Therapy"
The record shows that “reparative therapy” has no support from the major medical and mental health professional organizations.
In 1973, the American Psychiatric Association removed the term "homosexuality" from the list of mental and emotional disorders. Sexual orientation is not a disorder; therefore, it does not need to be cured.
In 1990, the American Psychological Association stated that scientific evidence shows that reparative therapy does not work and that it can do more harm than good.
In 1998, the American Psychiatric Association stated it was opposed to reparative therapy, stating "psychiatric literature strongly demonstrates that treatment attempts to change sexual orientation are ineffective. However, the potential risks are great, including depression, anxiety and self-destructive [suicidal] behavior..."
The American Medical Association, states in its policy number H-160.991, that it “opposes, the use of ‘reparative’ or ‘conversion’ therapy that is based upon the assumption that homosexuality per se is a mental disorder or based upon the a priori assumption that the patient should change his/her homosexual orientation”.
In 2001, The U.S. Surgeon General's Call to Action to Promote Sexual Health and Responsible Sexual Behavior asserted that homosexuality is not "a reversible lifestyle choice”.
Richard Cohen, one of the main reparative therapists, is permanently excluded from the American Counseling Association (ACA).
“Reparative therapy” is unethical. It does not work and it is dangerous and destructive. The damage that can be done by this practice is real. It can destroy someone's self esteem and faith and may lead to self-destructive and suicidal behavior.
Resources on Reparative Therapy and the Ex-Gay Movement
Professional Organization Statements on Reparative Therapy
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