I don’t know what they are proclaiming the truth to be — they like to claim that all the medical organizations are against reparative therapy and that it’s harmful, but the reality is that that isn’t what the organizations have said,” he said. “Instead, they have said that homosexuality is multi-causal and there’s proof-positive over the years that men and women have changed.

This the response Focus on the Family’s Mike Haley gave to Wayne Besen’s new Truth Wins Out organization.

But how does Haley’s claim hold up? Are “the medical organizations” against reparative therapy? Or is Haley right?

A look on the website of the American Psychological Association brings us to a factsheet called Just the Facts About Sexual Orientation & Youth: A Primer for Principals, Educators and School Personnel, a joint effort of:

  • American Academy of Pediatrics
  • American Counseling Association
  • American Association of School Administrators
  • American Federation of Teachers
  • American Psychological Association
  • American School Health Association
  • Interfaith Alliance Foundation
  • National Association of School Psychologists
  • National Association of Social Workers
  • National Education Association

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 factsheet goes further by identifying specific positions of certain organizations:

The American Academy of Pediatrics

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.

The American Counseling Association

…at its 1999 World Conference, ACA adopted a position opposing the promotion of “reparative therapy” as a “cure” for individuals who are homosexual.

The American Psychiatric Association

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.

The American Psychological Association

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.

The National Association of Social Workers

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. 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.

And finally in a separate statement of position from the AMA:

Official Statement Concerning Homosexuality from the American Medical Association

Our AMA: … (3) 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.

Well, Mike, let’s see how your version of “the truth” holds up: “contraindicated”, “opposing the promotion of”, “potential risks of reparative therapy are great”, “discourages social workers from providing or referring”, “bias that is based in ignorance”, “opposes the use of reparative or conversion therapy”. It sure sound to me like the “medical organizations” are against reparative therapy and have said that it’s harmful.

And that is what Wayne is proclaiming the truth to be.

For a good chronological listing of “the medical organizations” positions see religioustolerance.org.

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