Press

Task Force lauds psychologists' repudiation of so-called 'reparative' therapy

Date: 
August 06, 2009

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"It is time that the 'reparative' practitioners cease and desist their dishonest claims of 'curing' homosexuality. As a society, we must cure homophobia and embrace those among us, especially young people, who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender. We will all be healthier when each of us can bring our full selves to work, to school, to houses of worship and to our communities."
— Rea Carey, Executive Director, National Gay and Lesbian Task Force

WASHINGTON, Aug. 6 — The National Gay and Lesbian Task Force applauds the American Psychological Association's (APA) resolution, adopted at the organization's annual convention, that states that mental health professionals should avoid telling clients that they can change sexual orientation through therapy or other treatments.

Statement by Rea Carey, Executive Director
National Gay and Lesbian Task Force

"We're thrilled to finally put this debate to bed. We have long known that 'reparative therapies' and 'ex-gay ministries' are harmful to individuals, to society and to families. The American Psychological Association, through its careful review of research, has now stated without hesitation that the 'reparative' practitioners, whether therapeutic or religious, cannot credibly claim success and may in fact be harming individuals who seek help and support. It is time that the 'reparative' practitioners cease and desist their dishonest claims of 'curing' homosexuality. As a society, we must cure homophobia and embrace those among us, especially young people, who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender. We will all be healthier when each of us can bring our full selves to work, to school, to houses of worship and to our communities."

More about the APA resolution & the Task Force's longtime work
on depathologizing homosexuality and bisexuality

The "Resolution on Appropriate Affirmative Responses to Sexual Orientation Distress and Change Efforts" strongly advises that parents, guardians, young people and their families avoid treatments and practitioners that portray homosexuality as a mental illness or developmental disorder. The APA advises that people experiencing conflict about their sexual orientation seek psychotherapy, social support and educational services that provide "accurate information on sexual orientation and sexuality, increase family and school support and reduce rejection of sexual minority youth."

"Reparative therapies" and so-called "ex-gay ministries" have long offered snake oil "cures" for homosexuality to vulnerable families and youth. The National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, beginning in 1998, has issued research reports to expose the charlatans for what they are: right-wing political ideologues manipulating and exploiting the conflicted feelings and experiences of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people, primarily caused by anti-LGBT views, sentiments, public policies and theology. The notion that sexual orientation can be "cured" or "changed" through "reparative therapies" and "ex-gay ministries" forms a foundational right-wing ideology that sexual orientation is a mistaken "choice" to be changed, rather than a deeply held understanding of one's own sexual identity that all should be free to express and live out to its fullest.

The APA acknowledges that many LGBT people experience conflicts about their sexual orientation because of their or their families' religious beliefs. To that point, the APA resolution advises mental health professionals to both "reduce the stigma associated with homosexuality" and "respect the client's religious beliefs" while considering "possibilities for a religiously and spiritually meaningful and rewarding life."

The Institute for Welcoming Resources, a program of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, works to expand the number of congregations that welcome and affirm LGBT people. These congregations create religious environments that do not condemn LGBT people, but rather offer acceptance, nurturance and an experience of affirmational worship.

The Task Force's long history on this issue began in 1973, when the Task Force worked to change the American Psychiatric Association's classification of homosexuality as a mental disorder, and worked with psychiatrist allies to defeat a proposed association-wide referendum to stop the declassification. In addition:

To learn more about the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, follow us on Twitter: @TheTaskForce.

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The mission of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force is to build the grassroots power of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community. We do this by training activists, equipping state and local organizations with the skills needed to organize broad-based campaigns to defeat anti-LGBT referenda and advance pro-LGBT legislation, and 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.