Last week President Barack Obama announced his support for a ban on what a White House statement referred to as “conversion therapy” for minors. That catch-all phrase is often used by gay rights activists to describe any therapy designed to help an individual change sexual orientation or unwanted same-sex attraction.
The president’s statement left some people feeling abandoned by the leader of their country. David Pickup and Christopher Doyle, both therapists who practice sexual orientation change therapies and identify themselves as people who have changed their own same-sex attractions, told me they had clients distraught over the president’s comments.
“When the president came out with this, I had a client sobbing in my office asking, ‘How can the president turn his back on people like me? Does he only care about his liberal agenda?’” Doyle said.
Proponents of the ban claim therapies aimed at changing sexual orientation can be harmful. “The overwhelming scientific evidence demonstrates that conversion therapy, especially when it is practiced on young people, is neither medically nor ethically appropriate and can cause substantial harm,” Valerie Jarrett, senior advisor to the president, wrote on the White House blog.
But there is no evidence of any harm caused by sexual orientation change therapy, according to Pickup. “In the past 30-40 years, there has not been one complaint of harm filed with a state licensing board,” he said.
The therapy that both Pickup and Doyle practice strictly involves talking. Neither have knowledge of any therapists who practice aversive tactics often cited by ban proponents. Gay activists say people have been shocked or forced to vomit or tortured in some way, but Doyle said when those claims are investigated they are found to be fraudulent: “The alleged victim never reveals any details or identifies the therapist who supposedly did such things."
No reputable therapist would ever attempt to force an unwilling adolescent to change, Doyle said. It is unethical to try to force people, adults or adolescents, to change anything against their will.
“If a therapist tried something like that, the client could file a complaint with the state licensing board and they would act on it,” Doyle said. “There is no need to ban ethical therapy.”
A ban on sexual orientation change therapy would take away the rights of both minors and parents, said Regina Griggs, executive director of Parents and Friends of Ex-Gays & Gays.
“The White House’s position on banning talk therapy would take away the legal rights of minors and make it illegal for parents to support their child if he or she seeks mental and spiritual care to overcome unwanted same-sex attraction or gender confusion,” she said.
The issue has become so politicized it isn’t even about protecting clients, according to Doyle. “It’s about gay activists who want to take away religious freedom and take away the rights of adolescents with same-sex attraction who want to change,” he said.
But the therapy does not have universal support in the Christian community. Alan Chambers, former president of Exodus International, came out in support of the president’s position. “For too long, same-sex attraction has been categorized as sinful and in need of repairing,” he said. “Such stigma has caused LGBTQ people crippling shame and fear.” Chambers, once a strong advocate for the ability to change same-sex attraction, based at least in part on his own experience, disbanded Exodus International in 2013 after apologizing to the gay community.
Despite pressure from gay activists, many states are stepping up to protect minors’ rights, Doyle said. So far, 21 states have rejected bans on this type of talk therapy and “several additional states, such as Ohio and Pennsylvania, where harmful bans have been introduced, are choosing to protect the rights of minors by not moving the bills forward,” he said.
Although there are currently no outcome-based studies to prove the effectiveness of sexual orientation change therapy, both Doyle and Pickup assert many of their clients have successfully changed unwanted same-sex attraction. Even the therapists are living testaments to the fact that same-gender attractions can be changed.
“The president knows nothing about this type of talk therapy and he needs to get out of the counseling office,” Pickup said.
Courtesy: WORLD News Service
Photo: President Barack Obama
Photo courtesy: Wikipedia
Publication date: April 21, 2015