New Study By NY Researchers on ‘Conversion Therapy’ Contradicts NARTH

May 09, 2001

So-called conversion therapy has a dramatically high failure rate, results in long-term damage to many clients and often is conducted in ways that violate the ethical principle of informed consent. Those are among the findings of a long-term study on conversion therapy conducted by Michael Schroeder and Ariel Shidlo.

Preliminary findings were presented today at the American Psychiatric Association's annual conference in New Orleans and stand in stark contrast to another study released by Robert Spitzer, who is associated with the anti-gay group National Association for Research and Therapy of Homosexuality. NARTH views homosexuality as a developmental disorder.

In the study conducted by Schroeder and Shidlo, 88 percent of those interviewed were unable to "convert" their sexual orientation. Another 9 percent reported that they were struggling or celibate. And just 3 percent reported being successful and living contently as heterosexuals.

"Just imagine a drug company putting a product on the market that had a 88 percent failure rate and only a 3 percent 'success' rate," said Tim McFeeley, political director of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force. "That product would be taken off the market immediately and lawsuits likely would follow. Yet proponents of conversion therapy are willing to subject clients to a so-called treatment that has been rejected by every major medical and mental health association."

McFeeley commented that the Spitzer study being publicized by the anti-gay group NARTH is based on profoundly unscientific, biased data. Of the 200 people interviewed by Spitzer, 43 percent were referred to him by ex-gay ministries and another 23 percent were referred by NARTH itself. "It is snake oil posing as science," McFeeley said. "Anti-gay groups like NARTH will grasp at any straw in their effort to ostracize and attack the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender community. Fortunately, in increasing numbers, the public is rejecting their bigoted attacks."

To read the report Calculated Compassion, please visit The report documents the links between the ex-gay movement and the religious right's retooled assault on gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender people. It was published by NGLTF, Political Research Associates, and Equal Partners in Faith in 1998.

Statement of American Psychiatric Association on "conversion" therapies:

American Psychological Association guidelines for lesbian, gay, and bisexual clients:


The mission of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force is to build the political power of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community from the ground up. We do this by training activists, organizing broad-based campaigns to defeat anti-LGBT referenda and advance pro-LGBT legislation, and by building the organizational capacity of our movement. Our Policy Institute, the movement’s premier think tank, provides research and policy analysis to support the struggle for complete equality and to counter right-wing lies. As part of a broader social justice movement, we work to create a nation that respects the diversity of human expression and identity and creates opportunity for all. Headquartered in Washington, D.C., we also have offices in New York City, Los Angeles, Miami, Minneapolis and Cambridge.