Homosexual conversion therapy is a ludicrously counterproductive so-called treatment with harmful side effects. After recognizing the dan- gers, California recently banned the practice from being performed on minors.
However, the ban is being challenged in federal court. Opponents claim the ban violates First Amendment rights, such as freedom of speech, privacy and religion. Such a claim from conservatives is hypocritical considering they fought to uphold a ban on partial birth abortion from the same freedom of privacy charges. Similar to partial-birth abortion, to outlaw conversion therapy is to ban an immoral, unethical and disproven practice. Other practices proven to be harmful, including electro convulsive therapy and psychosurgery have been banned on children in California. By this interpretation of the First Amendment, virtually all regulations regarding malpractice and unsafe treatment would be unconstitutional.
The opposition to this ban is nothing more than a religiously motivated anti-gay ploy. The opponents who filed the lawsuit are Christian law firms, including Pacific Justice Institute and the Florida based Liberty Counsel.
No offense to anyone who may be religious, but religious lawyers are not qualified professionals who can determine what is or is not proper therapeutic treatment for homo- sexual teenagers. Religious views against homosexuality are not valid facts for scientific research. Supporters of conversion therapy cite a 2003 study by Robert Spitzer, which claimed 66 percent of homosexual males and 44 percent of homosexual females obtained “good heterosexual functioning,” defined as “being in a sustained, loving heterosexual relationship within the past year.”
Yet Spitzer disregarded statistical biases in his study: 93 percent of his participants were very or extremely religious, and 78 percent had spoken in favor of conversion therapy, frequently at church. In fact, Spitzer denounced his own work earlier this year, stating, “the study does not provide evidence, really, that gays can change.”
Authentic scientific research has debunked conversion therapy. Conversion therapy’s fatal flaw is it treats homosexuality as a mental disorder. This theory was disprov- en nearly 40 years ago. Extensive research in the 1950s and 1960s led psychologists, such as Evelyn Hooker to determine homosexuals were just as mentally functional and adaptable as heterosexuals. More scientific research proved homosexuality to be a natural behavior present in many different species and cultures. The overwhelming evidence has led major mental health organizations, such as the American Psychiatric Association in 1973 to remove homosexuality from its Diagnostic and Statistical Manual.
Other studies have shown laughably inconclusive results for conversion therapy. In a 2002 study by psychologists Ariel Shidlo and Michael Schroeder, a whopping 88 percent of the 202 reparative therapy patients surveyed failed to “change” their sexual orientation. Nine percent were classified as “successful and struggling” patients who were still engaging in homosexual behavior from time to time. Three percent were classified as “successful and not struggling,” and three percent were classified as a “successful heterosexual shift.”
Conversion therapy doesn’t just fail to “cure” homosexuality; it puts lives at risk. Symptoms associated with the treatment include depression, loss of self-esteem, self-guilt and attempted suicide. The study by Shidlo and Schroeder found 17 percent of the patients surveyed reported attempting suicide either during or after the therapy, more than double the number of the patients who were “successful without struggle” or had a “successful heterosexual shift.” These reports do not include the patients who were successful at their suicide attempts and couldn’t participate in the post-therapy survey.
The ethics of reparative therapy psychologists are also question- able. The American Psychological Association code of ethics forbids psychologists from making false or misleading statements about the scientific or clinical basis of their services.
Yet another study by Shidlo and Schroeder found reparative therapists incorrectly informed their patients that ho- mosexuality was a psychological disorder or did not exist altogether, or how homosexuals are inherently unhappy. Such claims are scientifi- cally inaccurate and violate the APA’s code of ethics.
Such a reckless treatment with such a high potential for dan- gerous side effects shouldn’t be allowed on kids. This issue isn’t about promoting a pro-gay agenda. It’s about the safety of children. We shouldn’t promote practices that have been scientifically proven to be ineffective and psychologi- cally harmful.